AIA Hong Kong

In Memoriam: Tunney F Lee, Hon AIA (1931-2020)

In Memoriam: Tunney F Lee, Hon AIA (1931-2020)


It is with profound sadness and a heartfelt sense of loss that our Chapter has just learned that Professor Tunney F Lee, Hon AIA (HK), Hon FHKIA, passed away in Cambridge, Massachusetts,
on 2 July 2020 at the age of 88.

Tunney Lee was professor emeritus and former head of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as well as professor emeritus and founding chair of the Department of Architecture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK).

His long-time teaching and research were dedicated to community-based design, including urban design studios on city neighbourhoods in the Boston area and Santiago, Chile, to the rapid urban development of Shanghai and the Pearl River Delta in China.

Born in Taishan, Guangdong Province, Tunney was raised in the US where he received his architectural degree at the University of Michigan, then studied at the University of Rome on a Fulbright Fellowship.  As a young practitioner, he worked with renowned architects Buckminster Fuller, Marcel Breuer and IM Pei.  Later, as an urban planner, he became Chief of Planning and Design at the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

In 1990, Tunney arrived in Hong Kong with his wife, Irene, to embark upon a new adventure and the challenge of starting a Department of Architecture at CUHK.  By the time they returned to the
US in 1998, the fledgling programme was already fully accredited by the HKIA, ARB and CAA, and several of its earliest graduates have become leaders in the local profession today.

In recognition of these outstanding accomplishments and legacy to our architectural community, Tunney was recognized as an Honorary Affiliate Member of AIA Hong Kong in 1998 as well as an Honorary Fellow of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects in 2006.

Despite these accolades, Professor Tunney Lee was undistracted by the shiny objects of formal prestige or position.  Rather, he will be remembered most for his intellectual energy, unfading optimism, personal generosity and humility, and abundance of wisdom in his various roles as architect, urban planner and visionary educator.  He will be greatly missed by us all.