Anthony M. Tung writes and lectures on the subject of global urban heritage. He is the author of Preserving the World’s Great Cities: The Destruction and Renewal of the Historic Metropolis (New York: Clarkson Potter, 2001), a detailed socio-cultural portrait of preservation efforts in 18 cities across the globe. It was praised in The Washington Post as "a landmark of creative urbanism . . . Tung's breath of vision and rapid-fire insights recall Lewis Mumford at his best."
Since its publication, Tung has lectured in Amsterdam, Athens, Edinburgh, Havana, Istanbul, Kyoto, Madrid, Mexico City, San Juan, Singapore, Vienna, and across North America—consulting on heritage conservation policy with officials in Toronto, Halifax, New York, New Orleans, and Cuba.
He has also been an instructor on architectural history at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and a visiting professor on international urban preservation at MIT and Columbia University Graduate School for Architecture, Planning and Preservation. In Spring 2018, he led a design studio at The New School in collaboration with the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana.
Tung’s broad perspective on urban heritage is informed by his hands-on experience in dealing with problems of 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 comprising 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, which was chronicled in the local press with such headlines as “Tung-Lashing by Landmarks Head” and “Tung Wars.”