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Thomas Luebke

Thomas Luebke is the Secretary of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, the federal design review agency in Washington, D.C., where he manages the review of a wide range of planning, architectural, historic preservation, and public art projects.  His recent publication, Civic Art: A Centennial History of the U. S. Commission of Fine Arts, examines a century of design of the public realm in Washington, D.C., and the influence of political ideology on urban and architectural design in the national capital city.  As a Likhachev fellow, Thomas began work on a project to compare the two capital cities of Washington and St. Petersburg of rising continental powers as they reflect larger political and aesthetic trends across several centuries—from Enlightenment values and expansionary interests, to the development of a centralized and technocratic state, to the revival of historic forms as bearers of cultural meaning under a more fragmented conception of the state in the late 20th century.  He is currently developing this material as an exhibit of maps, photographs, and drawings of the two cities.


As a UNESCO World Heritage site, St. Petersburg qualifies as a city with unparalleled resources for study and research of urban design, civic architecture, and public art topics.  My thanks to the Likhachev Foundation for making possible a highly productive and enlightening study into the history, form, and design of one of the world’s most distinctive urban environments.  I was truly impressed by the richness of the public environment, as well as with the eagerness of the many specialists I met with to share their knowledge and resources concerning this spectacular place!