May 28th 2024

David Hovey Sr., Maurice Cox Receive Honorary Doctor of Architecture

Illinois Institute of Technology awarded an Honorary Doctor of Architecture, honoris causa, to Maurice Cox, a visionary in urban landscape design and city planning, and David Hovey Sr. (ARCH ’67, M.S. ’71), an esteemed alumnus and pioneering architect and developer, received Honorary Doctor of Architecture at the 155th Commencement ceremony on May 11.

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.

“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,” Cox says. “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 has argued in word and deed that American cities can be supportive environments for their citizens,” says 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.”

Internationally known as an architect who controls all aspects of a project from financing through design and construction, Hovey’s unique model of development has led to award-winning buildings and exceptional living experiences for thousands of residents.

“As a graduate and former faculty member of Illinois Institute of Technology, receiving this Honorary Doctor of Architecture is a profound honor,” Hovey says. “My work and the architectural education at Illinois Institute of Technology are aligned on innovative design and a comprehensive understanding of how people live, and this honor affirms the importance of integrating architectural creativity with functional sustainability in our communities.”

Hovey is the founder of Optima Inc., a real estate development firm renowned for its integrated approach combining architecture, real estate, and cutting-edge design. Optima’s projects, which span more than 6,000 residential units in Chicago, Phoenix, and Scottsdale, Arizona, have garnered multiple awards for architectural excellence, planning, and green design. Recently, his Optima Chicago Center I/II received the Outstanding Property Award for Architectural Design.

“David’s work transforms skylines and elevates the human spirit," Kroloff says. “But in addition to being a gifted designer, he is also an extraordinary teacher, influencing generations of IIT grads, and by extension, the cities where they work.”