School of Architecture, CUHK

In Memory of Professor Tunney F. Lee (1931-2020)

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We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of our Founding Chairman, Emeritus Professor Tunney F. Lee (李燦輝榮譽教授) Hon AIA HK, Hon FHKIA, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 2 July 2020, at the age of 88.

An eminent educator, Prof. Lee was professor emeritus and former head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  In 1991, he started a new Department of Architecture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), which became our School of Architecture today.  The curriculum reflected his values and philosophy, with an emphasis on buildings as part of the human habitat, which made the Faculty of Social Science the most appropriate home for the Department.  By the time Prof. Lee retired from CUHK and returned to the US in 1998, the fledgling programme was already fully accredited by the HKIA, ARB and CAA.

Born in Taishan, Guangdong Province, Prof. Lee emigrated as a child to the US, where he attended Boston Latin School and received his architectural degree at the University of Michigan in 1954.  As an aspiring architect, he had worked for late masters Buckminster Fuller, Marcel Breuer and IM Pei.  Later, as an esteemed urban planner, he served as Chief of Planning and Design at the Boston Redevelopment Authority and Deputy Commissioner of the Massachusetts Division of Capital Planning and Operations.

His decades of teaching and research had focused on the process of community-based design, studying from neighbourhoods in Boston and downtown Santiago, Chile, to sustainable residential development in Shanghai and the Pearl River Delta, China.  More recently, his Density Atlas project – an online resource to compare urban forms – was created as a planning tool to understand the implications of population, building footprints and urban design in residential densities across the world.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions and lasting legacy to our architectural community, Prof. Lee was elected as Honorary Affiliate Member of American Institute of Architects Hong Kong and Honorary Fellow of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects.

Truly inspiring and much loved by generations of students and colleagues, Professor Tunney Lee will be remembered most for his pedagogical vision, personal charm and generosity, as well as abundance of wisdom in his various roles as architect, planner, educator and leader.  He will be greatly missed and our heartfelt condolences are with his family in Boston.

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