Gilbert Lester Leong; Architect, Founder of East West Bank
Gilbert Lester Leong, 85, pioneering Chinese American architect who designed churches and other public buildings in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. Born to an immigrant couple, Leong studied sculpture at Chouinard Art School and earned a degree in architecture at USC. He designed residential and commercial buildings throughout Los Angeles, including Chinatown’s Baptist and Methodist churches, a Bank of America branch and the Kong Chow Family Assn. and Temple, where he served as a director. Leong co-designed the interior court and authentic Chinese garden in the Pacific Asian Museum in Pasadena, where he also served on the board. He was a founder of the East West Bank and served on its board of directors for 23 years. Leong was also on the board of the planned Museum of Chinese American History in downtown Los Angeles. He recently taped a historic documentary about area Chinese Americans for CBS. Leong was featured in “The 100-Year Odyssey of a Chinese American Family,” a book published last year by his niece, Lisa See. Leong and his family owned the Soochow Restaurant. On Friday in Pasadena.