Mark Francis

Position Title
Professor Emeritus

  • Landscape Architecture + Environmental Design


Mark Francis, FASLA, FCELA, is Professor Emeritus and past Chair of Landscape Architecture at the University of California, Davis where he founded and directed the Center for Design Research. He works at the intersections of landscape architecture, environmental psychology, geography, art, and urban design to explore the design and meaning of built and natural places.  His work is concerned with spatial democracy including the theory and design of urban and community landscapes.

Trained in landscape architecture and urban design at Harvard, MIT and Berkeley, he is a founding partner of CoDesign/MIG, where he has designed projects in the United States and abroad. At UC Davis he was a member of the Institute for Transportation Studies (ITS), John Muir Institute for the Environment and Graduate Groups in Geography, Community Development, Transportation Technology and Policy, Horticulture and Agronomy and Social Theory and Comparative History.

He is author of more than 80 articles and book chapters translated into a dozen languages. His books include Urban Open Space (Island Press 2003), Village Homes (Island Press 2003), The California Landscape Garden (University of California Press, 1999), Public Space (Cambridge University Press, 1992), The Meaning of Gardens (MIT Press, 1990; Kajima Press, Tokyo, 1997), Community Open Spaces (Island Press, 1984), The Healing Dimensions of People-Plant Relations (People-Plant Council, 1994) and (Re)constructing Communities: Design Participation in the Face of Change (Center for Design Research, 2005).

His work has appeared or been reviewed in The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, Smithsonian Magazine, Psychology Today, Christian Science Monitor, San Francisco Chronicle, American Horticulturist, Pacific Horticulture, Progressive Architecture, The Whole Earth Catalog and Landscape Architecture. His book The Meaning of Gardens, edited with Randy Hester of UC Berkeley, was selected as one of the best garden books by The New York Times and is widely used as a text in architecture, landscape architecture and the humanities. Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, writing in The New York Times described him as "a national leader in advocacy planning".

Mark has received awards for his research, writing, planning and design from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Institute of Architects, the American Society of Landscape Architects, the American Planning Association, and the California Local Government Commission. He has received eight awards from the American Society of Landscape Architects Professional Awards Program, including the Centennial Medallion, their highest design award.

He is Associate Editor of the Journal of Architectural & Planning Research and serves on the editorial boards of Landscape Journal, Journal of Planning Literature, Environment & Behavior, Children and Youth Environments and Design-Research Connections. He has been a member of the Advisory Boards of the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF), Trust for Public Land (TPL), American Community Gardening Association (ACGA), Urban Land Institute (ULI), Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, San Francisco League of Urban Gardeners (SLUG), and Nearby Nature in Eugene, Oregon. He has also served on and chaired several national and international awards juries including the EDRA/Places Awards Program, the American Society of Landscape Architects Professional Awards Program, Orange County Great Park Designer Selection Jury, MAC Open Space and G3 International Design Competitions in South Korea, 13-acres International Design Competition in Vancouver and the CalTrans Excellence in Transportation Awards in California.

Mark has provided invited testimony to Congress as well as local and state commissions on open space and community design. He has served as an appointed member by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to the USDA's National Urban Forestry Advisory Council (NUCFAC) and is past Chair of the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA), where he co-founded the EDRA/Places Awards (with Places Editor Donlyn Lyndon).

Mark has received the Ralph Hudson Environmental Fellowship, was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1999 for his contributions to knowledge in landscape architecture, and is listed in Who's Who in America. Mark was elected Fellow of the Institute for Urban Design in New York City in 2006 and Fellow of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture in 2010.  His research has been funded by the Graham Foundation, Landscape Architecture Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, JJR Foundation, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Endowment for the Arts, U. S. Department of Agriculture, Elvenia J. Slosson Endowment for Ornamental Horticulture, UC Berkeley's Beatrix Farrand Fund, and Norwegian Council for Scientific and Industrial Research. In 2018 he received the Career Award from the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) for his lifetime contribution to improving understanding of the relationship between design and human behavior.

His design work is concerned with public space including urban gardens, community open space, nearby nature, and urban places. Built examples include the John F. Kennedy Memorial Park and mixed-use complex at Harvard University, Central Park and the Davis Farmers Market, Davis Commons and E Street Plaza in Davis, California, Mission Creek and Plaza in San Luis Obispo, and the award-winning Davis Greenway Plan which was adopted in 1990 as the Open Space Element for the City of Davis General Plan. His design for Central Park and the Davis Farmer's Market has been cited as "a new model for urban parks" by the Urban Parks Institute and the Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Fund. The project received a Centennial Medallion from the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1999 as one of the most significant designed landscapes of the past 100 years and an Ahwahnee Merit Award for one of the best projects built in Western U. S. in the last 10 years from the American Institute of Architects, American Planning Association, and Local Government Commission. He prepared the first Master Plan for the 100-acre $8 million Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park for the Indianapolis Museum of Art and was an invited finalist with architect Giancarlo De Carlo to design Giardini di Porta Nuova, a major new urban park in the center of Milan, Italy. He has also served as a master plan and garden selection consultant to Cornerstone Festival of Gardens which opened in 2004 in Sonoma, California.

Mark was commissioned by the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) in Washington, D C to develop a case study methodology that is now widely used in the profession of landscape architecture. His report was published by LAF and the Herberger Center for Design Excellence in 1999 and led to LAF adopting a major initiative entitled Case Studies in Land and Community Design. The results were published as Village Homes: A Community by Design and Urban Open Space: Designing for User Needs, by Island Press and in several articles published in Landscape Journal. His case study method has been recently adopted and republished by the American Institute of Architects as part of their AIA Case Study Initiative, by the Active Living Research Program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Sustainable Sites Initiative.

At UC Davis, Mark taught undergraduate and graduate courses in landscape theory, urban open space, community design, and public space. His courses were core required courses for graduate programs at UC Davis including Geography, Community Development, Transportation Technology and Policy, Tourism Studies, Horticulture and Agronomy, and Social Theory and Comparative History.


"Mark Francis' The Meaning of Gardens was a key book in turning landscape architects away from the sterility of abstract modernism" - Tom Turner, Landscape Design, 2001

The California Landscape Garden

Mark Francis and Andreas Reimann (University of California Press, 1999)


Village Homes

Mark Francis (Island Press, 2003)


Urban Open Space

Mark Francis (Island Press, 2003)


Community Open Spaces

Mark Francis, Lisa Cashdan and Lynn Paxson (Island Press, 1984)


Public Space

Stephen Carr, Mark Francis, Leanne Rivlin, and Andrew Stone (Cambridge University Press, 1992)


The Meaning of Gardens

Mark Francis and Randolph T. Hester (MIT Press, 1990)




Davis Sittable Space Study

Come Sit a Spell (Davis Enterprise Profile, 2010)

Arboretum Waterway Improvement Plan



Davis Farmer's Market designed by Mark Francis voted the most popular Farmer's Market in America - American Farmland Trust, 2009.

Davis' s Central Park is recognized as a national landmark for outstanding landscape architecture - American Society of Landscape Architects, 1999.

Central Park and Davis Farmer's Market

Davis, California (with CoDesign/MIG)

Central Park

Urban Wildlife Preserve University of California, Davis Medical Center

Sacramento, California (with Caru Bowns, Ph.D. and HLA)


Giardini di Porta Nuova Park Competition

Milan, Italy (with Giancarlo DeCarlo)


Davis Commons

Davis, California (with CoDesign/MIG)


The Davis Greenway Plan

(with Kerry Dawson and Stan Jones)


Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park

Indianapolis Museum of Art Indianapolis, Indiana (with MIG)




  • Career Award, Environmental Design Research Association, 2018
  • 2014 Distinguished Alumni Award UC Berkeley College of Environmental Design for “extraordinary contributions to the academy and profession of landscape architecture”.
  • Fellow, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA). Elected 2010.
  • Fellow, Institute for Urban Design, New York City. Elected 2006.
  • Fellow, American Society of Landscape Architects, 1999-present. 
  • Who's Who in America. 54th Edition, Marquis. 2000-present.
  • Honor Award, Communication, American Society of Landscape Architects, Washington, D.C., The California Landscape Garden. 1999.
  • Centennial Medallion, American Society of Landscape Architects, Washington, D.C., Central Park and Davis Farmer's Market. 1999.
  • Ahwahnee Award. California Council of the American Institute of Architects, American Planning Association, California Chapter, and Local Government Commission. Central Park and Davis Farmer's Market. 1999.
  • Merit Award, Research, American Society of Landscape Architects, Washington, D.C., UCDMC Urban Wildlife Preserve. 1999.
  • Merit Award, Communication, American Society of Landscape Architects, Washington, D.C., The Healing Dimensions of People-Plant Interactions. 1995.
  • Merit Award, Research, American Society of Landscape Architects, Washington, D.C., Public Space. 1994.
  • Honor Award, Communication, American Society of Landscape Architects, Washington, D.C. The Meaning of Gardens. 1992.
  • Merit Award, Communication, American Society of Landscape Architects, Washington, D.C., Public Space. 1985.
  • Merit Award, Planning and Design, American Society of Landscape Architects, Washington, D.C., The Davis Greenway. 1988.
  • Merit Award, Communication, American Society of Landscape Architects, Washington, D.C., Community Open Spaces. 1986.
  • National Exemplary Design Research Award, National Endowment for the Arts, Washington, DC. The Making of Neighborhood Open Space. 1983.
  • Fellow, University of California Humanities Institute. Fellow, Norwegian Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.


  • Associate Editor, Journal of Architectural and Planning Research
  • Editorial Board Member, Landscape Journal
  • Editorial Board Member, Journal of Planning Literature
  • Editorial Board Member, Environment and Behavior
  • Editorial Board Member, Children's and Youth Environments
  • Editorial Board Member, Design-Research Connections
  • Reviewer of book manuscripts, E F Spon, Johns Hopkins University Press, Island Press, McGraw Hill, MIT Press, Routledge, Stanford University Press, Taylor & Francis, Yale University Press, University of California Press, University of Washington Press, Wiley, Van Nostrand Reinhold
  • Expert Panel Member, National Science Foundation (NSF), National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), British Research Council, Canadian Council for Scientific Research, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Scottish Research Council, Swedish Research Council; Norwegian Research Council
  • Program Reviewer appointed by Provost, University of Oregon, Rutgers University, Swedish Agricultural University LSU
  • Reviewer, Journal of Environmental Psychology, Journal of the American Planning Association, Journal of Community Psychology, Journal of Creative Behavior, Journal of Urban Design, Journal of Planning Literature, Landscape Journal, Landscape and Urban Planning, Places, Town Planning Review, Urban Design International, Urban Geography, Proceedings of the Environmental Design Research Association, Proceedings of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture, Proceedings of the American Society of Landscape Architects


  • Olmsted Scholarship Advisory Board, Landscape Architecture Foundation. 2008. 
  • Chair, International Design Competition Jury, New Multi-functional Administrative City (MAC) Central Open Space, South Korea. (with Paolo Burgi, Switzerland, Julia Czerniak, USA, Peter Latz, Germany, and Binyi Liu, China). 2007.
  • G5 International Urban Design Competition Jury, Chuncheon, South Korea. (with Jon Lang, Australia, Colin Fournier, London, Jeff Ho, Singapore). 2006.
  • Garden Selection Jury, Cornerstone Festival of Gardens, Sonoma, California (with Peter Walker, Ken Smith, Marc Trieb and Charlotte Frieze). 2005 – 2010.
  • Orange County Great Park Designer Selection Jury. (with Diane Ghirardo, Michael Rotondi, and Linda Pollak), Irvine, California. 2005.
  • 13 Acres International Schoolyards Design Competition, Canadian Society of Landscape Architects and University of British Columbia. (with Peter Latz, Cornelia Oberlander, Mark Dudek and Gina Crandell). 2001.
  • Douglas Dockery Thomas Fellowship Jury. Landscape Architecture Foundation. (with James Wescoat, Karen Hanna and Darrel Morrison). 2001. 2003.
  • EDRA/Places Awards Jury. Places Journal and Environmental Design Research Association. (with Donlyn Lyndon, John Zeisel, and Anne Vernez Moudon). 1999.
  • American Society of Landscape Architects Professional Awards Jury. 1993.
  • Excellence in Transportation Jury, CalTrans, State of California, 1994.
  • International Schoolyards Design Competition Jury, New York City, 1990.


Beatrix Farrand Fund, University of California, Berkeley; Gerbode Foundation; Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts; Hewlett Foundation; Ralph Hudson Environmental Fellowship; JJR Foundation; Lake Tahoe Conservancy; Landscape Architecture Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Norwegian Research Council; Royal Norwegian Council for Scientific and Industrial Research; Stavanger 2008 European Capital of Culture; Elvenia J. Slosson Endowment for Ornamental Horticulture; University of California Transportation Center; University of California Humanities Institute; University of California Office of the President Pacific Rim Grant Program; U. S. Department of Agriculture; U. S. Environmental Protection Agency; University of California, Sustainable Transportation Center.


Harvard Graduate School of Design, Columbia University School of Architecture, Pratt Institute, City University of New York, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, North Carolina State University, University of Illinois, Urbana, University of Illinois, Chicago, Iowa State University, University of Wisconsin, University of New Mexico, University of Washington, University of Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, Arizona Sonora Desert Museum, American Society of Landscape Architects, Environmental Design Research Association, American Horticultural Association, American Community Gardening Association, Urban Land Institute, California Council of Landscape Architects, Santa Barbara Botanical Garden, Horticultural Geographies Conference (UK), G5 International Urban Design Symposium (Korea), Democratic Design Conference (Japan), Participatory Design and the Future of Cities Conference (Italy), and Conference on Urban Design Guidelines (Norway), OPUS Symposium.


  • Overgrown: Practices Between Landscape Architecture and Gardening.  Julian Raxworthy. MIT Press. 2018
  • Values in Landscape Architecture. Elen Deming. LSU Press. 2015. 
  • Roots and Research in Urban School Gardens. Veronica Gaylie. Peter Lang Publishing. 2011.
  • Design for Ecological Democracy. Randolph Hester. MIT Press. 2006.
  • The Global Silicon Home. Shenglin Chang. Stanford University Press. 2006.
  • City Bountiful. Laura Lawson. University of California Press. 2005.
  • Cornerstone: New Frontiers in Modern Gardens. 2005.
  • Roberto Burle Marx. Marta Iris Montero. University of California Press. 2001.
  • Meeting of the Minds. Daniel Iacofano. MIG Communications. 2001.
  • Ecology and Design. Bart Johnson and Kristina Hill. Island Press. 2001.
  • Landscapes for Learning. Sharon Stine. Wiley. 1997.
  • Green Nature/Human Nature. Charles Lewis. University of Illinois Press. 1996.
  • Life Between Buildings. Jan Gehl. Van Nostrand Reinhold. 1993.



  • Francis, M.  “The Making of Democratic Streets”.  In G. Paba (Ed.). Democratic Streets. Contesti.  pp. 192 – 213. Florence: Firenza University Press. 2016. 
  • Carr, S., M. Francis, L. Rivlin and A. Stone. “The Value of Public Space”. In V. Mehta (Ed.). Public Space. London: Routledge. 2015.
  • Francis, M. and L. Griffith. "The Meaning and Design of Farmers' Markets as Public Space". Landscape Journal. 30, 2: 261 - 279. 2011.
  • Francis, M., J. Koo and S. Ramerez.  Just a Comfortable Place to Sit: Davis Sittable Space Study.  Davis: Center for Design Research.  2010.
  • Francis, M. "Mixed-Life Places" in T. Banerjee and A. Loukaitou-Sideris (Eds.). The Routledge Companion to Urban Design. New York: Routledge. 2010.
  • Francis, M. "A Research Agenda for the Impact of Community Greening Revisited" Community Greening Review. 2009.
  • Carr, S., M. Francis, L. Rivlin and A. Stone. "Needs in Public Space", in M. Carmona and S.Tiesdel (Ed). Urban Design Reader. London: Architectural Press. 2007.
  • Francis, M. and C. Bowns. "Research-Based Design of an Urban Wildlife Preserve". pp. 183 - 190 in J. Zeisel. Inquiry by Design: Environment/Behavior/Neuroscience in Architecture, Interiors, Landscape, and Planning. New York: Norton. 2006.
  • Francis, M. "Urban Parks as Community Places". In J. Jin (Ed.). G5 International Urban Design Symposium. pp. 87-96. Chuncheon, South Korea. 2006. -
  •  Francis, M. and R. Lorenzo. "Children and City Design: Proactive Process and the Renewal of Childhood". In C. Spencer and M. Blades. (Eds.). Children and their Environments. London: Cambridge University Press. 2006.
  • Francis, M. "Community Design Reexamined". In J. Hou, M. Francis, and N. Brightbill. (Eds.). (Re)Constructing Communities: Design Participation in the Face of Change. pp. 18 -24. Davis: Center for Design Research. 2005
  • Hou, J., M. Francis, and N. Brightbill. "Reconstructing Community Design." In J. Hou, M. Francis, and N. Brightbill. (Eds.). (Re)Constructing Communities: Design Participation in the Face of Change. pp. 18 -24. Davis: Center for Design Research. 2005 -
  • Francis, M. "Informing Places". Places. 16, 1: 33 - 37. 2003.
  • Francis, M. "Parks as Community Engagement: A Guide for Mayors". City Parks Forum. Chicago: American Planning Association. 2002.
  • Francis, M. and R. Lorenzo. "Seven Realms of Children's Participation". Journal of Environmental Psychology. 22: 157-169. 2002.
  • Francis, M. "Village Homes: A Case Study in Community Design". Landscape Journal. 21, 1. 2002.
  • Francis, M. "A Case Study Method for Landscape Architecture". Landscape Journal. 19, 2: 15-29. 2001.
  • Francis, M. "Habits of the Proactive Practitioner". in I. Kinoshita (Ed.) Proceedings of the Second Conference of Democratic Design in the Pacific Rim: Japan, Taiwan and U. S. Tokyo. 2000.
  • Francis, M. "Planning in Place". Places. 13, 2, 1999. Francis, M. "Initiativ-Planaer: ein neues Profil fur die Profession" Garten & Landschaft. 8. 99: 30-33. 1999.
  • Francis, M. "Proactive Practice: Visionary Thought and Participatory Action in Environmental Design". Places. 12, 1: 60 - 68. 1999.
  • Francis, M. "Making a Community's Place". in R. Hester and C. Kweskin (Eds.) Democratic Design in the Pacific Rim: Japan, Taiwan and U.S. pp. 156 - 163. Mendocino, CA: Ridge Times Press. 1999
  • Francis, M. "Design at the Edge: Planning and Design Approaches to the Urban-Agriculture Edge". In H. Carter (Ed.) Resolving Conflicts at the Urban Agriculture Edge. Davis: University of California Agricultural Issues Center. 1997.
  • Francis, M. "Childhood's Garden: Children's Memory & Meaning of Gardens". Children's Environments. 11, 1. 1995.
  • Francis, M, P. Lindsey & J. Rice. (Eds.). The Healing Dimensions of People Plant Relations. Blacksburg, VA: People-Plant Council. 1994.
  • Francis, M., "The Making of Democratic Streets." Chp. 1, pp. 23 - 39, in A. Vernez Moudon (Ed.). Public Streets for Public Use. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.
  • Francis, M. "The Future of Urban Open Space". Invited Testimony to the U.S. House of Representatives Interior Subcommittee on Investigations and Insular Affairs. Congressional Record. January 30, 1990.
  • Dawson, K., M. Francis & S. Jones. "Davis Greenway" pp. 232-233 in Contemporary Landscape Architecture: An International Perspective. Tokyo: Process Architecture. 1990.
  • Francis, M., "The Urban Garden as Public Space". Places. 6, 1. 1989.
  • Francis, M., "Control as a Dimension of Public Space Quality." in I. Altman and E. Zube (Eds.) Public Places and Spaces. Human Behavior and Environment. Volume 10. New York: Plenum. 1989.
  • Francis, M., "Changing Values for Public Space." Landscape Architecture. 78, 1: 54-59. January-February, 1988.
  • Francis, M., "Negotiating Between Child and Adult Design Values." Design Studies. 9, 2: 67-75. 1988.
  • Francis, M., "Some Different Meanings Attached to A Public Park and Community Gardens." Landscape Journal. 6, 2: 101-112, 1987.
  • Francis, M., "Urban Open Spaces." pp. 71 - 106, in E. Zube and G. Moore (Eds.). Advances in Environment, Behavior and Design. New York: Plenum. 1987.
  • Francis, M., "Gestaltung Des Offentlichen Raums". Garten & Landschaft. 96, 4: 36-40. 1986.
  • Francis, M., "Community Design," Journal of Architectural Education. 37,1: 14-19. 1984.
  • Francis, M., "Mapping Downtown Activity," Journal of Architecture and Planning Research. 1,1: 21-35. 1984.
  • Francis, M., "Behavioral Approaches and Issues in Landscape Architectural Practice and Education." Landscape Journal, 1: 92-95. 1982.
  • Heder, L. and M. Francis, "Quality of Life Assessment: The Harvard Square Planning Workshops" in Social Impact Assessment, 2nd edition, Finsterbush and Wolf (Eds.). New York: McGraw-Hill. 1981.
  • Francis, M. (Ed.). Participatory Planning and Neighborhood Control. New York: Center for Human Environments. 1979.
  • Francis, M., "Toward Participatory Urban Design." In Proceedings of the First National Conference on Urban Design. A. Ferebee (Ed.). Washington, D.C.: RC Publications. 1978.
  • Francis, M., "Urban Impact Assessment and Community Involvement: The Case of the John Fitzgerald Kennedy Library." Environment and Behavior, 7,3: 373 - 404, 1975.