In Memory of Professor Ralph Lerner

In Memory of Professor Ralph Lerner (1949 – 2011)

Condolence Book

From Steffen Lehmann, Research Professor, Director, University of South Australia at 20110708 14:48:55

Dear Ralph, You were a giant in the field of architectural education. Your leadership was exceptional and your views on the world influenced generations of young architects. We didn’t always agree on issues, for instance when judging a competition in Shanghai; but your ability to convince and your well considered articulated viewpoints, ensured your view point was highly respected. You will be deeply missed.

From alien, staff at 20110624 10:49:08
May you rest in peace, Professor Lerner.

From Kam Louie, Dean, Arts Faculty at 20110621 12:30:44
Ralph’s insights and no-nonsense comments were greatly appreciated by all the Deans. His friendship and collegiality were also highly valued. We will miss him.

From Professor Edward Ng, Chinese University of Hong Kong at 20110620 20:28:18
I cme to know Professor Lerner when I met him forthe first time in HKU talking about Bridge to China ( projects in my capacity as the chairman of the WZQ Charitable foundation. The meeting was not long, but already I could sense his great sense of purpose and vision. He gave us the greatest of his support. It is not for nothing that his vision has paid off and students of Tsinghua U and HKU will build their Joint U Centenary bridge in China this summer. I am sure he will be missed by us all.

From Andrew Tirta & Jennywati, ILATAAJ, Jakarta at 20110613 23:27:31
Our condolences to family members. Ralph left us with the greatest impressions sharing warm chats and good laughs during the AA Shanghai Summer School a couple of years ago.

From Reyan, HKU Architecture Alumni at 20110611 11:20:03
Thank you for all your efforts and contribution to the faculty. It has been an honour and good fortune to have studied under your Deanship. I will always remember what you told us. Thank you and I will miss you. May you rest in peace and my deepest condolences to your family.

From Mark Hemel, Information Based Architecture, Amsterdam at 20110610 22:00:15
My Sincere Condolances, I’m sorry that we never met in person. I wish your dear ones lot’s of strenght.

From Jane Hao, Ryerson University at 20110606 15:46:28
May you rest in peace.

From HKU Alumni-Dept of Architecture , at 20110603 21:42:01
May you rest in peace.

From Nikki, HKU MArch at 20110602 19:52:57
My condolences to the Lerner family. May you rest in peace.
From William Louie, S.O.A (What magazine) at 20110522 23:59:33
Dear Sir, We are so shock , deepest sad and can’t believe that. We are always remember your effort, passion and encouragement to us and architecture. May you rest in peace. Best Regards William Louie on behalf of S.O.A

From Maria Francesch, HKU Alumni-Dept Politics and Public Administration, at 20110522 00:37:01
It is with sadness I read of the passing of Ralph Lerner. I briefly met with when his daughter Esther joined the Soc Sci Summer School of 2008. I recall his keeness in giving Esther an opportunity to do something ‘meaningful in Asia’. To Esther and the family, may you treasure his dedication to you and fulfill his hopes! May Ralph rest in peace.

From Kannex, HKU at 20110519 12:02:17
Your face, your smile still in our mind……we miss you. May you rest in peace.

From Jaenes Bong, HKPDA at 20110518 21:43:33
My deepest condolence. It is a great loss for the architecture academy and professional. May you rest in peace.

From Daniel, staff at 20110518 15:41:10
Idealistic, Energetic, Genuine, a truly respectable spirit.

From David Sadoway, PhD student, University of Hong Kong, Faculty of Architecture, Dept.of Urban Planning & Design at 20110518 10:51:21
My condolences to the Lerner family for their loss. As the former Grad Student Rep to the HKU Arch Faculty Board I witnessed Dean Lerner’s energy and vision first hand. Though we did not always philosophically agree on every issue, Ralph made me feel comfortable expressing my dissenting opinions as a student representative. I think the comfort that I experienced says some thing about a man who respected the notion of academic freedom in the classic sense of learning by inviting diverse: ideas, debate and discourse. The Faculty, under Dean Lerner’s stead always had an extremely lively array of guest scholars, lecturers and speakers. And to cite just one example, which says a lot about Dean Lerner’s respect for diversity and dissent, a recent Faculty guest speaker was artist Ai Wei Wei–the passionate and outspoken artist-designer. I also had a glimpse of Dean Lerner’s more personal legacy when I met his daughter Esther during the HKU Summer Institute. I can attest, as a Mentor in this program that Esther certainly brings Ralph’s critical passion to debate and inquiry in important public interest questions. Once again, please accept my condolences.

From Jamie Yue, HKU Architecture Alumni at 20110517 20:25:38
Thank you for all your efforts and contribution to the faculty. May you rest in peace and my deepest condolences to your family.

From NG Wah-keung Augustine, Central Policy Unit (Former Project Director, WKCDA) at 20110517 11:34:28
It is an honour to have met you and worked with you. May you rest in peace.

From Mary Wong, Former MArch Secretary at 20110517 09:24:07
May you rest in peace, your spirit is always with us.

From SU Chang, HKU BAAS class of 2013 at 20110516 22:05:15
Thank you for bringing us so close to the true architecture education. May you rest in peace.

From Henrik Valeur, Creative Director, UiD at 20110516 20:08:54
May you rest in peace

From Maggie, HKU Architecture Alumni at 20110516 13:20:40
rest in peace

From Stephen Chung, Honorary Assistant Adjunct Professor, HKU Alumni, Faculty of Architecture-Department of Real Estate & Construction at 20110515 02:12:50
I have met Professor Lerner only once or twice via departmental events yet as an alum from the early 1980s, when the faculty was still a closely-knitted school, losing a member was like losing a friend or family member. As such, I would like to express my condolences to his family.

From Claire Fu, HKU Architecture at 20110514 21:06:10
Dear Sir, it is the great honour to have you in our faculty. Thank you for all your positive energy and contribution brought to us as well as our school. May you rest in peace. And my deepest condolences to your family.

From Adeline Peng, HKU March alumni at 20110514 12:35 at 20110514 12:35:03
Dear Professor Lerner, I will never forget the opportunity and encouragement you gave us in the Harvard Joint Studio, and your warm invitation to your home in Princeton.You and Mrs. Lerner are very kind and nice.May you rest in peace.And offer my deepest condolences to Mrs. Lerner.

From Myra, HKU Department of Architecture Alumni at 20110514 12:30:50
It has been an honour and good fortune to have studied under your Deanship. Though the time is short, your passion and wisdom have touched many students and steered our architectural education in a new direction. May you rest in peace.

From Otto Ng, MIT, HKU Architecture Alumni at 20110514 04:57:48
I deeply regret the loss of Dean Lerner, great architect, admired intellect and our friend. Professor Lerner’s dedication had a profound influence not only on hku’s pedagogy but also on my design interests that convinced me and many of my friends to pursue our graduate studies in the states. My teacher, may you rest in peace.

From facutly student, hku at 20110513 21:39:30
kkkkkkkkk….. Miss our dean…… Miss our facutly… Miss our geniue…

From Paul Chow, MLA alumni, HKU at 20110513 18:36:38
We lost a good Dean. Thank you for your contributions to faculty for these years. May you rest in peace.

From Stella Shen, HKU Alumni at 20110513 17:53:41
It is really sad to hear about this. All the progress and improvement he brought to us is remembered. The pioneering education he emphasized benefited us a lot. The Shanghai centre he made efforts for reinforced the exchange of ideas. May you rest in peace.

From sandy putranto, HKU MUD alumni at 20110513 17:00:24
My deepest condolences. It’s really an honour to have you in HKU dear Sir.

From Dan Luo, Columbia University, The University of Hong Kong at 20110513 15:33:49
Really grateful for all the changes and energy he brought along to HKU. And I’d never find my way so smoothly in the world of architecture without his dedication to the reforming of the program and school. Rest in Peace

From Gwyneth , HKU Alumni-Dept of Architecture at 20110513 15:13:13
Dear Sir, May you rest in peace.


Vice Chancellor’s Message

Message from The Vice-Chancellor

Dear colleagues, students and alumni,

It is with great sadness that I am writing to inform you that the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Professor Ralph Lerner, passed away on Saturday morning, May 7, 2011 in Princeton, after a long battle with brain cancer.

Professor Lerner was the University’s first Appointed Dean of Architecture, appointed in February 2006, and joined us from Princeton University, where he was Dean of its School of Architecture from 1989 to 2002.

During his time here as Dean, Professor Lerner always worked with the best interests of the Faculty in mind. He was instrumental in instituting reforms within the Faculty, and brought world-renowned professionals and educators to HKU, to share their expertise and experience with our staff and students.

Professor Lerner also had the vision to establish a Study Centre in Shanghai that would become a hallmark of the Faculty. He saw not only the possibilities that China could offer the Faculty, and ultimately the University, but also the importance of initiating Knowledge Exchange activities throughout the Mainland, and was committed to realising these opportunities.

The University is grateful to Professor Lerner for his dedication and leadership, and the enormous achievements he made during his too short time as our Dean of Architecture. He will always be remembered as being an important member of the University family.

We will miss Professor Lerner’s remarkable strength of character and sense of purpose, and I am sure you will join me in offering my deepest condolences to Professor Lerner’s wife, Lisa Fischetti, and his son Sigmund, and daughter Esther.

Professor Lap-Chee Tsui


It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing away of Professor Ralph Lerner, Dean of our Faculty, on Saturday morning, 7 May 2011, in Princeton, after a long battle with brain cancer.

Professor Lerner received his Bachelor of Architecture from The Cooper Union School of Architecture and his Master of Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. He worked for Haus-Rücker Architects, Richard Meier, and Ulrich Franzen, before opening his own practice in Charlottesville, VA, and then in partnership with Richard Reid in London, England 1980-84, until establishing the firm Ralph Lerner Architect PC in 1984. He taught at the University of Virginia, The Polytechnic of Central London, Harvard, and Princeton, where he was named Dean in 1989 and then the George Dutton ’27 Professor of Architecture in 1994. He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects.

Professor Lerner was appointed as the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture at The University of Hong Kong in February 2006. He left the position at the end of March 2011 for health reasons. During his five years as Dean, Professor Lerner set about revamping the entire Faculty in order to achieve his goal of making the Faculty one of the undisputed world-leading Schools of Architecture. Under his leadership, the Faculty achieved a higher standard of lecturing, a broader range of international contacts and, in particular, the influx of fresh teaching talent. His deep sense of commitment and passion towards his work, and his strong leadership provided a feeling of unity and purpose for all members of the Faculty. The Faculty was very fortunate to have Professor Lerner as our Dean and he will be fondly remembered for his vision, dedication and sharp intellect.

Professor Lerner will be sorely missed by his colleagues, friends and students. A memorial service in his memory will be held at the University. Details about the service will be announced shortly.

Faculty of Architecture
The University of Hong Kong

Memorial Service