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Memorial service for Professor Emeritus Joseph T.A. Lee, 2:00 p.m., October 6, at Kerrytown Concert House

Joseph T.A. Lee, B.S.E.C.E.’42, M.S.(ENG)’43, B.Arch.’55, professor emeritus of Taubman College, where he taught architecture for three decades, died August 15, 2009 at his home in Ann Arbor. He was 91 years old. Born in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada of immigrant Chinese parents, his interest in architecture began as a boy when he built pens for pigeons and rabbits, remodeling his family’s house when he was in high school. In New York he worked in the architectural firms of Eggers and Higgins, William Muschenheim, Sanders -Malsin-Reiman, and also served as Clerk of the Works at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonia planned community in Pleasantville, New York. He also practiced architecture in Ann Arbor, with George Brigham, Don McMullen, and in private practice. He designed residential, commercial, industrial and institutional projects. In 1969, he entered into a partnership aimed to redevelop the area around the Ann Arbor Farmers’ Market, renovating the surrounding warehouse buildings and renting them to small businesses. Successful in spite of the prevailing trend toward shopping malls on the city’s periphery, the resulting shopping area is now known as Kerrytown and is an Ann Arbor landmark. Professor Lee served on the Ann Arbor School Board, as chair of the Ann Arbor Goals Conference in the mid-60’s, which looked critically at the impact of the rapidly changing social, economic and natural environment of Ann Arbor. He also chaired the Huron River Beautification Committee (1966-68) and the Mayor’s Committee on the Design of the Huron Parkway Bridge. He was a member of the first delegation of Chinese-American scholars and scientists invited by the Chinese government to speak at universities in the People’s Republic of China in 1972, immediately after renewal of diplomatic relations between the United States and China. Professor Lee enjoyed the stimulation and interaction of the studio teaching environment and encouraged his studio students to discover design principles through their own exploration. His belief that architecture is best when it acts as a backdrop to enhance human community and living motivated him to create an annual scholarship for a graduate architecture student who “shows the most promise for a career that has a balanced, integrated, and broad approach to the design of human space.” In addition to the scholarship at Taubman College, he and his late wife Elsie set up at the University of Michigan the Elsie Choy Lee Scholarship at the Center for Continuing Education for Women. Memorial donations can be made to either of those scholarship funds.