No Little Plans

Detroit’s planning and development director Maurice Cox is leaving for Chicago

Maurice Cox in conversation at the Princeton University School of Architecture. (Daniel Claro/Princeton University School of Architecture)

Detroit’s Director of Planning and Development, Maurice Cox, will be the next top planning executive for the city of Chicago, according to Detroit News, and will step down from his current post in September. Cox boosted the city’s planning staff from six to 36 and is credited with attracting world-renowned urban planners, designers, and architects to the city.

Cox was appointed as Detroit’s planning director in 2015 to strengthen its neighborhoods and land reuse policies. His past work experience in Detroit aligns with incumbent Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot’s urgencies for affordable housing, neighborhood equity, and economic development, and the news follows the city’s recent announcement to modernize city building codes for the first time in over seventy years.

Cox revitalized Detroit’s planning office after decades of decline and powered a design-minded recovery. His term was marked by improving infrastructure, streets, parks, and amenities as a strategy for building communities that residents would want to live in long term. His major initiative, “20-Minute Neighborhoods,” pushed for reforms that would allow residents to walk or bike to get everyday necessities instead of driving.

A New York native, Cox has previously held public office as a council member and then mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, from 1996 through 2004. He is also a former design director at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C, and associate dean of Tulane University’s School of Architecture and director of Tulane City Center, a city-based design resource center.

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