AUTHOR AND URBANIST ANTHONY M. TUNG has been a New York City Landmarks Preservation Commissioner, an instructor on architectural history at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a visiting professor on international urban preservation at MIT. His studio design course at the Columbia University Graduate School for Architecture, Planning, and Preservation in 2012 focused on efforts to save Ottoman-era stone villages in the highlands of the West Bank in Palestine. He has lectured in Singapore, Madrid, Amsterdam, Istanbul, San Juan, Edinburgh, Athens, Mexico City, Vienna, Kyoto, Oslo, and across North America—consulting on heritage conservation policy with officials in Toronto, Halifax, New York, and New Orleans.
His first book, entitled: PRESERVING THE WORLD'S GREAT CITIES: THE DESTRUCTION AND RENEWAL OF THE HISTORIC METROPOLIS (hardcover: Clarkson Potter, 2001; softcover: Three Rivers Press, 2001)is a detailed socio-cultural portrait of preservation efforts in eighteen cities across the globe—described by Publisher's Weekly as an"important contribution not only to the literature of urban studies and city planning but to architectural history and sociology," by the Atlanta Journal Constitution as "a remarkable chronicle of human spirit and architectural heritage," by Architectural Record On-Line as "an epic, or rather, 18 little epics packed into one important book," and by The Washington Post, as "a landmark of creative urbanism ... Tung's breath of vision and rapid-fire insights recall Lewis Mumford at his best."
A Japanese-language edition was printed in Summer 2006 by Kaiji Shobol Publishers, Kyoto.
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commissioner:
The volume is also politically incisive—reflecting Tung's hands-on experience in dealing with problems of metropolitan growth as a New York City Landmarks Preservation Commissioner for three terms, from 1978 to 1988, in the mayoralty of Edward I. Koch. During his tenure on the eleven-member body, Tung evaluated for designation approximately 200 individual landmarks and 12 historic districts composed of 3,500 properties. He also reviewed near 2,600 design proposals, totaling over three billion dollars of owner-initiated new construction associated with protected historic buildings.
Meanwhile, Tung's refusal as a commissioner to deliver politically expedient judgments on behalf of City Hall resulted in a fourteen-month long reappointment battle, chronicled in such newspaper articles as:
- "Landmarks Commission Member Losing Post," New York Times
- "Tung-Lashing by Landmarks Head," New York Magazine
- "A Feather-Ruffler Bites the Dust at City Hall," New York Newsday
- "Preservationists Touting Tung," New York Magazine
- "Koch Opts for a Staten Island Hatchet Woman," New York Newsday
- "Heartburn," Daily News
- "The Battle of Bryant Park," Village Voice
- "Landmarks Panelist Persists, to Supporters' Relief," New York Times
- "Tung Wars," New York Newsday
(For a representative selection of articles see: Preservation Press.)
Afterward, his service as a commissioner was honored by the Village Voice when he was listed as one of "New York's Finest" and by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund in a citation for "Justice in Action," as well as by Tom Wolfe, eighteen years later, in his 2006 New York Times Op-ed article "The (Naked) City and the Undead."
Tung's engagement in New York City politics then extended into the mayoralty of David N. Dinkins, upon whose transition team he served—interviewing and recommending nominees for the heads of 9 municipal agencies.
Anthony Tung is a graduate of the Cooper Union in New York City, receiving a Professional Degree in Architecture in 1972, and is a recipient of the school's Distinguished Alumni Citation—also serving as an alumni representative to its Board of Trustees from 1996 to 2000.
He has been a teacher in the Graduate Program of Management and Urban Professions at the New School for Social Research (1989), an instructor on architectural history at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1987-93), as well as an adjunct professor of studio design at the Historic Preservation Program of Columbia University (2012). His 12-credit seminar on international urban preservation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006 attracted students in city planning, urban design, and architecture from both Harvard and MIT.
Tung has lectured widely on urban architectural conservation at such venues as:
- Yildiz Tecknic Universitesi, Department of Architecture, Istanbul, Turkey, 1995
- Municipal Department 19, Division for Planning, Vienna, Austria, 1995
- Technical University of Athens, School of Architecture, Greece, 1995
- Kyoto University, Graduate School of Historic Preservation, Japan, 1995
- Singapore Urban Development Authority, Singapore, 1995
- The Committee to Save the City, Charleston, S.C., 1997
- Goethe Institute of Mexico, Mexico City, 1998
- Municipal Art Society, New York, 2001
- National Building Museum, Washington, D.C., 2002
- The New School for Social Research, New York, 2002
- University of Toronto, School of Architecture, Ontario, Canada, 2002.
- Ontario New Democratic Party Policy Conference, London, Canada, 2002
- Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, symposium keynote, Saratoga Springs, 2003
- Spain/United States: Joint Policy Forum on Urbanism, Madrid, 2003
- Columbia University, Historic Preservation Program, New York, 2003
- State of New Jersey Conference on Urban Preservation, keynote, Trenton, 2003
- Los Angeles Conservancy, colloquium keynote, Los Angeles, 2003
- Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, 2003
- Williams College, Williams, Massachusetts, 2004
- Harvard University, MIT-Harvard Symposium on Urbanization in China, Cambridge, 2004
- Hamilton, Ontario, 2004
—Provincial Conference on Urban Conservation, keynote
—Workshop for preservationists
—Ontario Province Ministry of Culture, consultation on pending legislation
- Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America, conference keynote, New York, 2004
- Heritage Canada Foundation Annual Conference, keynote and workshop, Saint John, NB, 2004
- Halifax, Nova Scotia, 2005
—Downtown Halifax Business Commission, Carmichael Lecture on Urbanism
—Workshop for preservationists
—Luncheon talk with municipal leadership
- Florida Trust Annual Statewide Conference, keynote and workshop, Coral Gables, 2005
- University of Miami, School of Architecture, Coral Gables, 2005
- National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials, leadership enclave, Charleston, SC, 2006
- New Orleans, LA, 2006
—Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents, and Associates, Morrison Lecture
—Tulane University, School of Architecture, Koch Lecture on Urbanism
—Luncheon discussion with preservation leaders
—Rotary Club of New Orleans
- Baton Rouge, LA, 2006
—Louisiana House of Representatives, testimony on pending legislation
—Louisiana Senate, testimony on pending legislation
- State Historic Preservation Office, San Juan, Puerto Rico, 2006
- City of Toronto, heritage planning workshop, Ontario, 2006
- Stadsherstel Amsterdam, Colloquium on Preservation, keynote, Netherlands, 2006
- Colorado Preservation Inc. State Conference, keynote and workshop, Denver 2007
- City of Halifax Department of Planning, heritage planning workshop, Nova Scotia, 2007
- University of Michigan, School of Architecture and Planning, Ann Arbor, 2007
- Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, Florida, 2007
- Louisiana Landmarks Society, Martha Robinson Lecture, New Orleans, 2007
- University of Cambridge, City Seminar Lecture, Great Britain, 2007
- University of Cambridge, Master Class, Great Britain 2007
- National Trust for Historic Preservation Annual Conference, keynote, Tulsa, 2008
- University of Georgia, College of Environment and Design, Athens, 2009
- Savannah College of Art and Design, Department of Historic Preservation, 2009
- Stadsherstel Amsterdam/UNESCO World Heritage Centre, International Colloquium on Urban Preservation, keynote, 2010
- Arizona State Historic Preservation Conference, keynote, Tucson, 2011
- World Bank Conference on Urban Preservation in Developing Nations, keynote and closing plenary, Oslo, 2012
- Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research, critique of Oslo preservation policy, Oslo, 2012
Periodicals and Media:
Tung’s writing on urban conservation issues has been featured in the New York Times, New York Newsday, The Toronto Globe and Mail, The Charleston Post and Courier, Architectural Record On-Line, Heritage Canada, The Journal of Housing and Community Development, and ICON Magazine: a quarterly publication of the World Monuments Fund.
He has appeared in a variety of radio and television broadcasts including WNYC, AM New York: "New York and Company with Leonard Lope" (October 2001, December 2003); WBAI, FM New York: "Behind the News with Matthew Finch" (November 2001); National Public Radio's "Public Interest with Kojo Nnamdi" (January 2002); and the Canadian Broadcast Company’s, “Maritime Noon with Costas Halavrezos” (October 2004 and January 2005).
Tony Tung lives in downtown Manhattan with his wife, Janet Vicario, a painter and book designer. His father, George K.L. Tung, a former research chemist, was born in Shanghai, China. His mother, Rosemary Jones Tung, is the author of A Portrait of Lost Tibet (Thames and Hudson Ltd., London, 1980).