In Remembrance: Constance M. Adams ’90MArch Died on June 25 2018

Constance Marguerite duQuesnay Adams let slip the bonds of gravity and sailed into the stars early on June 25, 2018, in Houston, Texas. Born July 16, 1964, in Boston to Jeremy duQuesnay Adams and Madeleine de Jean, she spent her early years at Yale’s Calhoun College as a darling of Jeremy’s students while embarking on her education. Her family relocated to Dallas at age 10, when her father and stepmother Bonnie Wheeler joined the faculty of Southern Methodist University. 

In Dallas, Constance attended Arch H. McCullough Middle School and Highland Park High School, then went east to enter Harvard with the class of ’86. She graduated cum laude with the class of ’87 after taking time off to join the Catholic Worker community in New York City. At Harvard, Constance lived in–of course–Adams House, in a room adorned with mint-green shower curtains, a theater scrim, and telephone cords. While majoring in social studies, Constance created a signature piece in Harvard’s divestiture movement, designing the Ivory Tower in the shantytown erected in Harvard Yard to protest Harvard’s investments in apartheid-era South Africa. 

After Harvard, Constance studied architecture at Yale where she interned with the firm of Cesar Pelli, graduating in 1990. Constance then worked in Japan and Germany for the firms of Kenzo Tange (Tokyo, 1990–92) and Josef Paul Kleihues (Berlin, 1992–94). These were formative years for Constance, especially Berlin after the Wall, identifying elements she would later use to spearhead the field of sociokinetic research, which quantifies the interactions of individuals with their built environment and with one another in what she called “mothership engineering.” 

She returned to Texas in 1997 and began her pioneering career in space architecture with Lockheed Martin Space Operations in support of the Space Shuttle program and Mars exploration research. Constance embraced the role of a rocket scientist with customary enthusiasm, with projects ranging from the TransHab inflatable transit habitat and BIO-Plex to serving as a liaison between NASA and the Japanese Space Agency on the H-II Transfer Vehicle spacecraft program that resupplies the International Space Station. With her firm Synthesis International, she designed the Virgin Galactic terminal at Spaceport America in New Mexico. More recently she collaborated with IKEA and the Mars Society Desert Research Station, exploring the constraints of the Mars environment with a simulation in the Utah desert. 

Constance taught space architecture and design at Yale, the University of Houston, and the University of Hong Kong. Named an Emerging Explorer by National Geographic in 2005, she collaborated with them on the development of science curricula for elementary and middle school students. She lectured widely, including a TEDx-Houston talk in 2011. Her work has been published in Metropolis,WiredNewsweek, the New York Times,I.D.Popular ScienceArchitectural RecordDer Spiegel, and other journals, and has been exhibited at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Yale School of Architecture. Constance is survived by her daughters Chiara-Mathilde Mirabelle Adams and Valerie Constance Wehring of Houston; brother Charles Scott of Prince George, British Columbia; mother Madeleine de Jean of Santa Fe, New Mexico; stepmother Bonnie Wheeler of Dallas; and cousins Matthew Adams and family of Seattle and Sophie M. Adams of London, along with a worldwide community of friends and colleagues.

—Submitted for the family.

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