Rob Thayer

Position Title
Professor Emeritus

Landscape Architecture + Environmental Design


Rob Thayer taught landscape architecture at UC Davis from 1973 until his retirement in 2002, and founded the first accredited program in Landscape Architecture at UCD in 1978.
For 35 years Rob's research and professional activity has focused on sustainable, regenerative processes in the landscape. His current work explores the relocalization of the environment which will accompany an inevitable transition to renewable energy and resource utilization.

Robert L. Thayer is Emeritus Professor of Landscape Architecture and the founder of the Landscape Architecture Program at the University of California, Davis. In his thirty-eight year academic career he has written two books, several book-length monographs and over 100 academic articles and papers in the field of landscape architecture. Holding degrees from Cornell University and Stanford University, Robert Thayer has spent nearly his entire professorial career at UC Davis, exceptions being appointments as James Hill Visiting Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Minnesota in 1988, and Beatrix Farrand Distinguished Visiting Professor of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, College of Environmental Design, at UC Berkeley, 2006-2009.

Professor Thayer was Chair of the UC Davis Department of Environmental Design from 1988-90. He is also past Chair of the national Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board, with responsibilities for the certification of over sixty university graduate and undergraduate programs in landscape architecture in the United States. He remains a member of UCD graduate groups in Geography and Community Development and has guided Doctoral and Masters candidates both at Davis and Berkeley.

Thayer received nine awards for his research and writing from the American Society of Landscape Architects, including the society's highest award for any landscape architectural work, the 1994 President's Award of Excellence, for his book, Gray World, Green Heart: Technology, Nature, and the Sustainable Landscape. In 2003, Thayer published LifePlace: Bioregional Thought and Practice, by University of California Press. LifePlace won the Sierra Club's "Best Environmental Book" Award for the California Mother Lode Chapter in 2004.

As an emeritus, Thayer continues his work on regenerative systems in regional planning, sustainable design, bioregional theory and practice, wind/renewable energy policy, and post-oil peak landscape re-localization. He is now working with several graduate students investigating changes in agricultural/regional landscapes in response to energy, climate, and social factors.

Thayer has held a professional license as a landscape architect in the State of California since 1974, and was formerly a principal partner in the planning and landscape architectural firm CoDesign, Inc., from 1983-2000. Thayer was elected as a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects in 1989, and a Fellow of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture in 2007. In 2004, he became the first Education Foundation Visiting Scholar of the New Zealand Institute of Landscape Architects.

Rob Thayer is active in local bioregional non-profit organizations and was a founding member of the UC Davis Putah Cache Bioregion Project and the Blue Ridge Berryessa Natural Area Conservation Partnership. He has served on the steering committees of the Putah Creek Council and Cache Creek Conservancy.

Thayer (along with UC Davis colleagues Professor Emeritus David Robertson, English, Professor Peter Moyle, Wildlife and Fish Conservation Biology, Dean Dennis Pendleton, University Extension, and Dr. Joyce Gutstein, Director, Public Service Research Program) also received a U.S. Congressional Citation for Service with UC Davis' Putah - Cache Bioregion Project, 1993-present.

Rob Thayer pursues several life-long and post-career pursuits, including paddle sports, cycling, sculpture, woodwork, graphic art, guitar, and voice performance. He is an avid reader of non-fiction at the intersection of social theory, sustainability, technology, energy, environment, and agriculture.

Since 1976, Rob Thayer has lived in Village Homes, a solar community in Davis.