The Believers

Julie Bargmann: Landscape Survivor

Dec 1, 2005
Outside Magazine


AS ONE OF THE LEADING landscape architects specializing in revitalizing toxic Superfund sites and derelict brownfields, Julie Bargmann is a sort of fairy godmother of industrial wastelands. "Most remediation projects are just lipstick on a pig," she says. "They truck the dirt to New Jersey and slap a parking lot over the site." Which is why the 47-year-old started D.I.R.T. (Design Investigations Reclaiming Terrain) Studio, in Charlottesville, Virginia. Bargmann seeks out nasty places from Israel to Alaska, hires scientists to pitch in with the eco-cleanup, and transforms blight into beauty. Results so far include the makeover of a basalt quarry into a thriving vineyard and wildlife habitat in Sonoma County, California. "Postindustrial landscapes are bound to become central to many of our communities," says Bargmann, "and reclaiming these derelict sites is a way to contribute to communities and the environment."