The newly-established Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize honors advancements and innovation in landscape architecture. The inaugural winner of the award is Julie Bargmann, and when you look at the work she does, it’s no surprise that her work is being celebrated with this honor (and a $100,000 purse).
Bargmann is a professor at the University of Virginia and the founder of D.I.R.T – Dump It Right There. Called “the toxic beauty queen of brownfield remediation,” Bargmann’s environmentally-focused work tackles toxic dumps, Superfund sites, and wastelands.
As reported by NPR, Bargmann finds potential in sites which have long been overlooked. She has redesigned and repurposed abandoned rail yards and quarries, landfills, derelict factories, and coal mines. In a mining community in Pennsylvania, she used rewilding and passive design techniques to turn a toxic area into a public space for art and recreation.
Bargmann’s precise design takes advantage of natural systems but with the precision and attention of an engineer. She also often uses existing infrastructure pieces, like the abandoned foundations of an old house, to create new public spaces, like the base for a playground.
In a release from the Cultural Landscape Foundation, Bargmann writes, “There exists massive potential and sublime beauty in places that may seem, at first blush, to be trashed. Sites, neighborhoods, entire cities — they are full of energy waiting to be recognized, released, and given new form.”
Image source: D.I.R.T, Architectural Digest