Saturday, October 5, 2013

Making Great Cities: Democracy + Design

Maurice Cox, FAIA

The AIA-SWO Design Excellence Committee is launching a series of community-wide forums about design excellence at the building, urban, and metro scales. The general subject area is “Making Great Cities,” and the speakers at each of the planned events will contribute the best thinking from their fields.

This program is a new and creative partnership led by the AIA/SWO Design Excellence Committee and includes the City Club of Eugene, the University of Oregon, local community groups, Lane Transit District, and the City of Eugene. 

Maurice Cox, FAIA, former mayor of Charlottesville, past member of the faculty at the University of Virginia, and now director of Tulane University’s City Center Initiative, will deliver the series’ inaugural presentation on Friday, October 18 at Lane Community College’s Downtown Campus. He brings to Eugene his history of forging real ties between design education, the political realm, and the public. He is a widely respected community designer and leader of the public interest design movement, and also a co-founder of the national SEED (Social, Economic, Environmental, Design) Networkl event’s keynote will be given by Maurice Cox, former Mayor of Charlottesville and now director of Tulane’s City Center Initiative. Mr. Cox has spent almost two decades forging ties between design education, the political realm, and the public. He is a nationally respected community designer and leader of the public interest design movement and former design director for the National Endowment of the Arts.

Additionally, Maurice, who studied architecture at Cooper Union in New York under the guidance of John Hejduk, is the former design director of the National Endowment of the Arts. 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 per year in NEA design grants across the United States. 

Maurice received national acclaim for his ability to incorporate active citizen participation into the design process while achieving the highest quality of design excellence. His accomplishments led Fast Company business magazine to name him one of America’s "20 Masters of Design" for his practice of "democratic design." 

Maurice’s appreciation of the civic process led him to serve as a city council member and then mayor for the City of Charlottesville, VA. During his term as mayor (2002-2004) the city was ranked as the "#1 Best Place to Live in the USA & Canada" by Frommer's Cities Ranked and Rated. Charlottesville was also the smallest in America to maintain a AAA-bond rating for excellence in fiscal management with a municipal city budget of $100 million. Under his leadership, the city 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. 

At Tulane University, in addition to working with the highly successful Tulane City Center program, he has been involved with URBANbuild, the Tulane Regional Urban Design Center, the preservation program, and the school’s new Master of Sustainable Real Estate Development program, all which are community outreach design initiatives of the university. 

I previously heard Maurice Cox speak at the 2010 Oregon Design Conference at Salishan. I considered his presentation to be the high point of that event. I expect his appearance here at the first "Making Great Cities" forum to likewise be nothing less than outstanding. 

The Design Excellence Committee is very excited about the upcoming program and hopes it will support a broad, ongoing community conversation about the importance of quality in our built environment. Don’t miss it. RSVP today! 

What:   “Making Great Cities” forum featuring a keynote presentation by Maurice Cox, FAIA 

When:  6:00 PM – 7:30 PM Friday, October 18, 2013. Reception to follow. 

Where: Lane Community College Downtown Campus, 101 West 10th Avenue, Eugene
Cost:   FREE (suggested donation is $5 to help defray costs)
            Refreshments served with no-host bar.

RSVP: at

The Design Excellence Committee expects this event to be at capacity so please RSVP today.

Questions? Contact Kaarin Knudsen, Assoc. AIA, Design Excellence Committee Program Coordinator at

No comments: