Esteemed Architect and Champion for Cities, Maurice Cox, to Receive Honorary Doctor of Architecture from Illinois Institute of Technology

Cox’s transformative work in urban regeneration and his commitment to inclusive and sustainable city planning, including in his leadership of the Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development, have shaped cities across America


Maurice Cox, Illinois Institute of Technology Honorary Doctor of Architecture awardee sitting on a bench.

CHICAGO—May 11, 2024—Illinois Institute of Technology will award an Honorary Doctor of Architecture, honoris causa, to Maurice Cox, a visionary in urban landscape design and city planning. Cox has significantly impacted urban landscapes throughout the country and especially in Chicago, where he served as commissioner of the Department of Planning and Development (DPD).

“It is a great honor to receive this honorary degree from Illinois Institute of Technology, an institution that shares my commitment to innovation and community empowerment in architecture,” said Cox. “Architecture is not just about buildings—it’s about shaping communities and lives, and that attitude is imbued throughout education in architecture and beyond at Illinois Institute of Technology.”

For over two decades, Cox has applied his visionary approach to cities such as Charlottesville, Virginia, New Orleans, Detroit, and Chicago. In his role as DPD commissioner from 2019–23,  Cox was instrumental in shaping urban landscapes to reflect democratic and environmentally sustainable values, fostering community-improvement initiatives throughout the city with a primary focus on underinvested neighborhoods on the South and West sides.

“Maurice Cox’s leadership and dedication to transforming urban environments through architecture and design have left an indelible mark on cities across the nation,” said university President Raj Echambadi. “His innovative approach to urban planning enriches communities while driving prosperity and innovation, making him a true pioneer in his field and an excellent exemplar of the values we hope to instill in students at Illinois Institute of Technology.”

Born and educated in New York City, Cox honed his architectural expertise at Cooper Union, where he received a Bachelor of Architecture in 1983. His formative years included a significant period teaching and working in Florence, Italy, enriching his design philosophy. Throughout his career, Cox has held professorships at prestigious institutions including Syracuse University, Tulane University, the University of Virginia, and Harvard University. His academic roles have been complemented by his hands-on approach to empowering communities through collaborative and politically engaged processes.

Cox is also a co-founder of the Social, Economic, Environmental, Design (SEED) Network and served as the design director at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., from 2007–10. NEA programs, including the Mayors’ Institute on City Design and the Governors’ Institute on Community Design, thrived under his leadership, distributing more than $2 million annually in grants to foster urban design across the United States.

“Maurice Cox has argued in word and deed that American cities can be supportive environments for their citizens,” said Reed Kroloff, dean of the College of Architecture. “His efforts to integrate architectural excellence with public service have not only shaped the physical landscape but fostered a more inclusive and democratic approach to urban development as well.”

In 2024 Cox was named the laureate of the Henry Hope Reed Award by the University of Notre Dame, an honor that acknowledges his relentless pursuit of addressing social and economic disparities through design.

Cox’s degree will be conferred during Illinois Tech’s 155th Commencement ceremony on May 11, 2024 at Credit Union 1 Arena.

Photo: Maurice Cox 

Illinois Institute of Technology

Based in the global metropolis of Chicago, Illinois Tech was born to liberate the power of collective difference to advance technology and innovation for all. It is the only tech-focused university in the city, and it stands at the crossroads of exploration and invention, advancing the future of Chicago and the world. It offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineeringcomputingarchitecturebusinessdesignscience and human sciences, and law. Illinois Tech students are guaranteed access to hands-on experiences, personalized mentorship, and job readiness through the university's one-of-a-kind Elevate program. Its graduates lead the state and much of the nation in economic prosperity. Its faculty and alumni built the Chicago skyline. And every day in the city's living lab, Illinois Tech fuels breakthroughs that change lives. Visit

College of Architecture

The College of Architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology builds on a legacy of disciplined experimentation in materials and technologies to educate and inspire the next generation of architects and landscape architects. From its landmark campus and home at S. R. Crown Hall, IIT Architecture champions an interdisciplinary approach to education and research that is simultaneously local and global in its impact. IIT Architecture students are educated to address complex, contemporary challenges of designing and constructing across all scales. Both faculty and students enjoy a longstanding relationship with professional practice in Chicago, a city with a vibrant history of innovation in architecture, design, landscape architecture, and urbanism. Visit

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