MIT Professor Tunney Lee, an Architect, Urban Planner, and Historian of Chinatown, Dies at 88Historians in the News
tags: Boston, Chinatown, obituary, New England, Chinese American history
As an MIT professor, an architect, and an urban planner, Tunney Lee could look at buildings — particularly in Chinatown, where he grew up — and see much more than bricks and mortar.
“He could tell you about the history of the building, what organizations had been in the building, the families who lived there,” said Shauna Lo, a former board member of the Chinese Historical Society of New England. “He could tell you the histories of all the people and what they did for a living.”
A historian who was still at work on an extensive project to preserve the heritage of his childhood neighborhood, Mr. Lee died Thursday of complications from cancer treatment. He was 88 and lived in Cambridge.
A professor emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he formerly led the department of urban studies and planning, Mr. Lee had served as chief of planning and design for the Boston Redevelopment Authority.
He also had been deputy commissioner of the state Division of Capital Planning and Operations during the administration of Governor Michael S. Dukakis.
“I loved worked with him. He was a wonderful person,” said Dukakis, who over the years had lunch regularly with Mr. Lee and a small group.
“He was thoughtful, sensitive, committed, hard-working — I could go on and on,” Dukakis added. “He was great public servant.”