David L. Hays

Associate Professor / MLA Curriculum Committee Chair
Department of Landscape Architecture, School of Art and Design


Research Interests

My research and teaching interests include both historical and contemporary landscape architecture. Those interests first became focused through a curriculum of art history and were subsequently transformed through my study of design.

Whether historical or contemporary in focus, my work concerns the invention and reception of new landscapes. Landscape is understood here not reductively, as space (whether differentiated or extensive), but productively, as situated event (i.e., as work in place over time). Within that framework, the ambitions and abilities of a designer, the priorities of a commissioning agent, the wide-ranging conditions of site and context, and the particular qualities of materials and techniques give shape to landscapes that both reflect and give direction to the cultures in which they emerge.

My work seeks to interpret designed landscapes by elucidating both the circumstances through which they came into being and their subsequent implications. I am particularly attracted to curiosities of design—that is, to situations, involvements, approaches, and arrangements not readily accounted for in the conventional narratives of history and theory. As in science, phenomena that defy explanation often have much to teach us about core concerns.


1998-2001 Princeton University Graduate School, Department of Architecture. M.Arch. 2001. Thesis: "Sentient Architecture." Advisor: Prof. Guy Nordenson.
1992-2000 Yale University Graduate School, Department of History of Art. M.A. 1993; M.Phil. 1995; Ph.D. 2000. Dissertation: "The Irregular Garden in Late Eighteenth-Century France." Advisor: Prof. Judith Colton.
1990-1991 Cambridge University, Department of History of Art. Visiting Scholar, Peterhouse.
1986-1990 Harvard University. Joint A. B., summa cum laude: Fine Arts and Romance Languages and Literatures (French). Thesis: "The History of the Jardin de Monceau, 1769-1779." Advisor: Prof. Miroslava Benes.

Professional Experience

2009-present Principal, Analog Media Lab
2007-present Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2001-2007 Assistant Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Courses Taught at the University of Illinois

LA 101: Introduction to Landscape Architecture (2008 to present)
LA 233: Foundation Design Studio (2001 to 2006)
LA 281: Design Communications II (2001 and 2002)
LA 336/438: Design Workshops I and II
     "Between Matter and Experience" (2011)
     "Natural History" (2009), in collaboration with Martin Holland, Landscape Architecture
     "Performing Space" (2007), in collaboration with Prof. Tere O'Conner, Dance
     "Relevant Form" (2006)
     "Test Plots" (2005)
     "The American Garden Now: Proposals for the U.S. Embassy, Cairo, Egypt" (2002)
LA 390/590: Independent Seminar
     "Envisioning Gateway: A Public Design Competition for Gateway National Park" (2007)
     "At Risk" (2007)
     "Ciudades visibles: XV Bienal de Arquitectura de Quito, Ecuador" (2006)
     "Landscape since 2000" (2005 and 2006)
     "The French Garden" (2003)
     "Spatializing the Marvelous" (2003)
     "Ames, IA, Landmark Challenge" (2002)
LA 501: Theory and Practice of Landscape Architecture (seminar) (2012)
LA 587: Graduate Seminar
     “Making History” (2012)
     “Landscape since 2000” (2010)
LA 599B: MLA Thesis Studio (2008 to present)

Selected Publications

2012 (Non-)Essential Knowledge for (New) Architecture [306090 Books 15], ed. David L. Hays (New York, NY: 306090; Princeton Architectural Press, expected December 2012).
2011 "Making a Case for Making," in Making a Case [306090 Books 14] (New York, NY: 306090; Princeton Architectural Press), 180.
2011 "Garden Plans," in Cartography in the European Enlightenment, eds. Matthew Edney and Mary Sponberg Pedley, [Series: History of Cartography, vol. 4] (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), in press.
2010 "Above, Beyond, and Between: Situating Nature at Paolo Bürgi’s Cardada," in Feng jin yuan lin (Beijing, China) (December 2010).
2010 "Analog Media Lab: Chair I: Rococo Chair Retrofit," in Dorian Lucas, ed., Green Design (Stuttgart, Germany: Braun).
2010 "Interview: Forum on Landscape Architecture Adaptive to Climate Change," in Landscape Architecture China (Beijing, China), 50-53.
2010 "Grounded Speculation," in Feng jin yuan lin, special monograph about French landscape architect Bernard Lassus (Beijing, China) (April 2010).
2010 "Sentient Architecture: Embracing the Natural Volatility of Form," Junk Jet 3: Flux Us! Flux You!, ed. Asli Serbest, Mona Mahall, and Gerd de Bruyn (Amsterdam, The Netheralands, Idea Books, for Institut Grundlagen moderner Architektur und Entwerfen, University of Stuttgart, Germany), 28-31.
2009 "Making History" (essay) and "Envisioning the Bloomingdale: the Review" (transcript), in Chicago Architecture Club Journal 11: Envisioning the Bloomingdale.
2008 "Landscapes within Buildings," Harvard Design Magazine 29 (Fall 2008/Winter 2009): 110-117.
2008 "Standard Stoppages," 30•60•90 12: Dimension (Fall 2008): 18-19.
2008 "Landscape Theory," contributor, in Art Seminar 6: Landscape Theory, eds. James Elkins and Rachel Delue (Routledge; University of Cork Press).
2008 Co-authored with Dianne S. Harris, "On the Use and Misuse of Historic Landscape Views," in Representing Landscape Architecture, ed. Marc Treib (New York: Routledge), 22-41.
2007 "Landscapes within Buildings in Late Eighteenth-Century France," Sites Unseen: Essays on Landscape and Vision, eds. Dianne Harris and D. Fairchild Ruggles (Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press), 157-180.
2006 "Lesson Plans: Pierre Panseron and the Pedagogy of Garden Design in Late Eighteenth-Century France," Studies in the History of Gardens and Designed Landscapes 26: 4 (October-December 2006): 275-294.
2006 "Time (and Again): The Lurie Garden, Millennium Park, Chicago," The Senses and Society [Oxford, England: Berg] I: 2 (Summer 2006): 263-266.
2006 "Figuring the Commonplace at Ermenonville," in Experiencing the Garden in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Martin Calder (Bern, Switzerland: Peter Lang), 87-108.
2005 Response (invited) to keynote address delivered by David Harvey at "Groundswell: Constructing the Contemporary Landscape" Symposium, Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, 15 April, "Where is the outrage?," in L: Newsletter of the Architectural League of New York (Summer 2005), 9-10.
2004 Editor, 30•60•90 07: Landscape within Architecture (September 2004). Introductory essay, "Landscape within Architecture (within Landscape)," 6-11.

Selected Projects, Competitions, Exhibitions, and Media

2008-present, 2000-2003 Sentient Architecture, investigation of thermally-responsive, dynamic structural systems.
2009 Wood Work, site-specific performance, with Sarah Haas (Dance), and Ellen Hartman, Erich Sprague, and Kevin Stewart (Landscape Architecture) (performance: 3 May, Urbana IL).
2007 Wood Walk, sequential performance (February-April, Champaign County, IL; synthetic performance: 20 April, Urbana, IL).
2007 Informed Access, with Shaney Peña Gómez, Julie Sajtar, and Patrick Peterson, competition entry submitted to Envisioning Gateway: A Public Design Competition for Gateway National.
2006 Porous City, with Shaney Peña Gómez and Julie Sajtar, competition entry submitted to Ciudades visibles: XV Bienal de Arquitectura de Quito, Ecuador.
2001 Sentient Architecture, in Emergent [exhibition], Storefront for Architecture, New York, NY (November 9-23).
1999 International Criminal Court, Archive, and Media Center, part of "11 Architectural Questions about the ICC," exhibited at "The Hague Appeal for Peace," conference at the Nederlandse Congresgebouw, The Hague, Netherlands. (11-15 May).

Selected Awards and Honors

2008, 2010, 2012 Brenton and Jean Wadsworth Fellow, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2008 College of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Creative Research Award
2007-2008 Dumbarton Oaks Fellowship for Studies in Landscape Architecture
2006 Excellence in Studio Design Award, Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA)
2006 Faculty Excellence Award for Teaching, College of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
2006 Professor Excellence Award, University of Illinois Student Chapter, American Society of Landscape Architecture
2005 Professor Excellence Award, University of Illinois Student Chapter, American Society of Landscape Architecture


2011-present Trustee, 30•60•90
2001-2011 Member, Advisory Board, 30•60•90
2008-2009 Chair, MLA Curriculum Committee, Department of Landscape Architecture, University of Illinois, Urbana, Champaign
1998-2001 Director, American Friends of the Attingham Summer School, Inc.