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Bing Thom (1941-2016)

Oct. 25, 2016

The industry says goodbye to an architectural visionary.

Revered Vancouver-based architect Bing Thom—known for his work in both North America and Asia—passed away suddenly last month at the age of 75.

One of Thom’s most well-known works—if not the most well-known—is the $135 million Arena Stage company’s Mead Center for American Theater project, located on the southwestern waterfront in Washington, D.C. His work has been lauded as transformative for the theater, giving a new, refreshed personality to the location.

“I sometimes analogize a city to a string of pearls,” Thom told The New York Times in 2010, not long after the Mead Center was completed. “As an architect I’m as interested in the string as in the pearls.”

Born in Hong Kong, Thom fled to Canada with his family to escape communist forces in 1949. He studied architecture at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver and the University of California, Berkeley in the 1960s, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, respectively. He went on to teach architecture at the University of Singapore and then traveled to Tokyo where he studied under architect Fumihiko Maki. He returned to Vancouver to take a job with Arthur Erickson in the early '70s and left in 1982 to open his own firm, Bing Thom Architects.

Two of Thom’s innovative Hong Kong projects, the Xiqu Center for the Performing Arts and the University of Chicago Center, a satellite location, are yet to be completed. He was also planning urban developments in Silver Spring, Md., and Fort Worth, Texas, and had master plans for entire cities in China.

He is survived by his wife, the former Bonnie Koo, and two brothers, Wayne and Gene.

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