Urban Planner Named to Lead Detroit's Future Land Use

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DETROIT — Mayor Mike Duggan has appointment Maurice Cox as Detroit’s new planning director, pending approval by the City Council.

Cox has received national acclaim as a leader in community design and is widely respected for his ability to incorporate active citizen participation into the urban design and planning process.  He has a reputation for developing bold — yet achievable —plans that become tools for civic discourse and empowerment, embraced by diverse sectors of the community. His approach led Fast Company business magazine to name him one of America’s “20 Masters of Design” for his practice of “democratic design.”

He served as the design director of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, and in that capacity, he led the selection of NEA design grants and leadership programs such as the Mayor’s Institute on City Design, which prepares mayors to be the chief urban designers of their cities.

Cox comes to Detroit from his most recent dual position of director of the Tulane City Center, a community-based design resource center for New Orleans and associate dean for Community Engagement at the Tulane University School of Architecture, where he facilitates a wide range of partnerships between Tulane University, the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority and the City of New Orleans.

Previously, Cox taught at the University of Virginia, where his appreciation of the civic process led to his public service as city council member and then mayor of the City of Charlottesville, Va., from 1996-2004.

During Cox’s mayoral term (2002-2004) the city was ranked as the “ No. 1 Best Place to Live in the USA & Canada” by Frommer’s Cities Ranked and Rated. Under his leadership, Charlottesville completed several urban design initiatives, 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 new, two-mile, federally funded parkway entrance into the city.

Cox was born and educated in New York City. He received his bachelor’s in architecture from Cooper Union School of Architecture and was awarded the Loeb Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Early in his career, he taught for Syracuse University’s Architecture Program in Florence, Italy, while practicing architecture in Florence for 10 years. He also holds an honorary degree from the University of Detroit – Mercy.

If approved, Cox will begin immediately on a part-time basis until May, when he completes his last semester at Tulane.

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