See all Profiles
Headshot photo of Hazel R. Edwards

Hazel Ruth Edwards


  • Department of Architecture, CEA
  • College of Engineering and Architecture (CEA)


Dr. Edwards has had a unique career that combines place-based research with planning and urban design practice and teaching. Her research interests in quality of life (livability) are framed within urban contexts while focused primarily on historic residential and campus environments. This orientation has enabled a particular multi- and interdisciplinary approach to architecture, sustainable design, and city planning.

Of note is a planning study that culminated in a book that she co-authored entitled, The Long Walk: The Placemaking Legacy of Howard University (Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, 1996). This book traced the 127-year history of the physical development of the campus and was the historical framework for the 1998 Campus Plan. The Long Walk project has led to funded research and published work on placemaking at other historically black colleges and universities in the United States.  Her essay, “On Hilltop High: The Enduring and Nurturing Landscapes of Howard University,” appears in Landscape and the Academy, Beardsley, John and Bluestone, Daniel, eds. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2019).

Dr. Edwards holds the Bachelor of Architecture from Howard University, the Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Harvard University, and the Ph.D. in regional planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She was a Carolina Minority Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

She is a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and was elected to their College of Fellows (FAICP) in 2018. She was inducted into the George Washington Chapter of Lambda Alpha International, an honorary land economics society, in 2001. Her contributions to the planning academy and profession have been recognized in several awards including the 2015 Marcia M. Feld Leadership Award from the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP), the 2010 Outstanding Contributions to Chapter Award from the National Capital Area Chapter American Planning Association (APA), and the 2002 Outstanding Service to Chapter Award from the Maryland American Planning Association.  She has served on several committees and task forces for ACSP, APA, and the Planning Accreditation Board.

She has been a member of several Urban Design Assistance Teams (UDATs) as well as a Planning Assistance Team (PAT). In August 2015, she was a member of a six-person Sustainable Design Assessment Team (SDAT) sponsored by the American Institute of Architects. She served on a Community Planning Assistance Team sponsored by the American Planning Association (APA) in 2019. These volunteer experiences provided the background for Dr. Edwards to guide the work of her students in communities in Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. One such project received the Outstanding Student Project Award from the Maryland APA in 2002. The common thread of the work of her students was improving livability for all citizens. 

Prior to returning to Howard, she was a member of the faculty of the Graduate Program in City and Regional Planning at the Institute of Architecture and Planning, Morgan State University (1999-2007).  There she worked with students across the Institute to use concepts of urban design and planning to improve the quality of life of citizens at all socioeconomic levels. She was also a co-principal investigator for two multi-disciplinary funded research projects which focused on socioeconomic, community-based approaches for developing integrated mass transit systems in City of Baltimore, Maryland. In 2007, she joined the faculty at the School of Architecture and Planning at The Catholic University of America.  Shortly thereafter, she became the founding director of its new Master of City and Regional Planning, which was ranked in 2014 by Planetizen as one of the Top 15 Small Programs in North America. Her teaching was recognized through the 2009 Lankford Giles Vaughn Award for Professor of Architecture of the Year by the Washington, D.C. Chapter, National Organization of Minority Architects.  

At Howard, she is one of the Principal Investigators of a seven-institution research team funded by NASA.  The Habitats Optimized for Missions of Exploration (HOME) Space Technology Research Institute for Deep Space Habitat Design, is one of two space technology research institutes selected by NASA in 2019.  Howard architecture faculty and students are investigating earth-bound settings for adaptive architecture with potential applications to zero-/partial- gravity space habitats.  

She currently serves as the chair of the Planning and the Black Community Division (PBCD) of the American Planning Association’s PBCD FAICP Selection Committee, charged with increasing the numbers of black planners elected to the College of Fellows. She was selected to membership of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design Alumni Council in 2020.  She was also appointed to the American Institute of Certified Planners College of Fellows (COF) Committee in 2021.

In June 2021, she was appointed to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts by President Joseph R. Biden. She is the third Howard University architecture graduate and the fourth Howard University graduate to be appointed by the president of the United States. She is the first African American woman to serve the Commission as Vice Chair.

Education & Expertise


Regional Planning

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Urban Design

Master of Architecture
Harvard University

Bachelor of Architecture

Howard University




Historic residential and campus planning focused on placemaking.



Fellow, College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners

Member, Lambda Alpha International (Honorary Land Economics Society), George Washington Chapter

Marcia Feld Leadership Award, Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning

Lankford+Giles+Vaughn Award for Professor of Architecture of the Year, Washington, D.C. Chapter, National Organization of Minority Architects

Outstanding Contributions to Chapter Award, National Capital Area Chapter, American Planning Association

Outstanding Service to Chapter Award, Maryland American Planning Association

Referred Article: Phillips, Claudia Goetz and Edwards, Hazel Ruth. 2002. “Socioeconomic, Community-Based Approach for Developing Integrated Mass Transit Systems: Applications to the City of Baltimore, Maryland.” In Transportation Research Record 1793.