Lyman Conrad Jee (BA Arch ‘50, MA Arch ‘51), an architect and real estate developer in the San Francisco Bay Area, passed away on July 1, 2017 in Berkeley at age 90. Born in Berkeley to Raymond and Helen Jee, he graduated from Berkeley High in 1944. At age 17, he served in the United States Army Air Force from 1945 to 1946 at the end of World War II.
He earned his Bachelor's and Master's Degree of Architecture from the University of California, Berkeley in 1951. Upon graduation, he worked in the prestigious architectural firm of John Carl Warnecke in San Francisco. Jee then established the architectural firm, Jee and Anderson, with Jack Anderson in 1953.
Jee quickly received recognition for his modern residential designs that celebrated the unique traits of open floor plans, warm woods and vast expanses of glass that brought in the views of the San Francisco Bay. Known for seeking out lots that others would pass over, his ability to find the artful solution on site is best shown in his beloved home in Berkeley. His name continues to be attached to his work when homes he designed are listed for sale.
Jee pioneered the idea of working closely with skilled custom builders to produce these unique homes. In 1957, he and his partners started Arcon, Inc. to design, develop and operate commercial buildings. Though stepping into the world of real estate development, he never forgot his beginnings as an architect, creating unique and memorable banks, offices, and public buildings throughout the West and Hawaii.
By 1970, Jee won the groundbreaking and coveted rights to develop the 87-acre Yerba Buena Center business complex for the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency. Seen as the expansion of the crowded downtown and a solution to this blighted area, he spearheaded San Francisco's first conversion of a warehouse into Class A office space, and built several office buildings and a Salvation Army senior housing facility. Jee kept pace as the political landscape altered the direction of this Redevelopment Area, developing the Hotel Le Meridien (now known as the Park Central Hotel) and the office building at 75 Hawthorne, topped with a glass pyramid.
He is also remembered for his philanthropic efforts, being the first to begin the rebuilding following the Watts race riots of 1964, and the development of Mei Lun Yuen Chinatown Housing – a groundbreaking idea that mixed families and seniors with commercial and social services in a single development. Without Jee’s understanding of financing and development, this important work would never have been built.
Jee will be remembered for his entrepreneurial spirit, his love for architecture and his strong commitment to his profession.