Maurice Cox

Maurice Cox, a nationally respected community designer and leader of the public interest design movement, is planning director for the city of Detroit. Prior to moving to Michigan, he was director of Tulane City Center and associate dean for Community Engagement at the Tulane University School of Architecture in New Orleans. 

Cox studied at Cooper Union in New York and previously held a faculty position at the University of Virginia. A co-founder of the national SEED (Social, Economic, Environmental, Design) Network, Cox served as design director of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC from 2007-2010. In that capacity, he led the Mayor’s Institute on City Design, the Governor’s Institute on Community Design, and oversaw the award of more than $2 million a year in NEA design grants across the United States.

Cox served as city councilmember and then mayor of the City of Charlottesville from 1996-2004. During his mayoral term the city was ranked as the “#1 Best Place to Live in the USA & Canada” by Frommer’s Cities Ranked and Rated and was also the smallest city in America to maintain a AAA-bond rating for excellence in fiscal management. Under Cox’s leadership, Charlottesville completed several large projects, including the passage of an award-winning zoning ordinance in support of mixed-use, pedestrian-oriented development; new infill residential neighborhoods and mixed-income, higher-density housing; and the design of a two-mile, federally funded parkway entrance into the city.

Cox has received national acclaim for his ability to incorporate active citizen participation into the design process while achieving the highest quality of design excellence, leading Fast Company magazine to name him one of America’s “20 Masters of Design” for his practice of “democratic design.”