Landscape architect Julie Bargmann scoops 2021 Oberlander Prize

The 2021 Oberlander Prize has been announced, honouring landscape architecture and Cornelia Hahn Oberlander – and the winner is American landscape architect Julie Bargmann  

Core City Park Detroit
Core City Park Detroit, MI, Spring 2021.
(Image credit: Prince Concepts and The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

The Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize was founded in 2019 to celebrate the late, great designer’s often-overlooked field, as well as honour her influential and pioneering work. Architectural gardens, sustainability and the need for communities to connect with green, open spaces are all critical aspects of the profession that Oberlander was deeply passionate about – and the Vancouver-based landscape architect was talking about them long before most others did. Now, aiming at continuing her legacy, the prize will be given every two years and the inaugural award has just been announced: crowning American landscape architect Julie Bargmann as the 2021 Oberlander Prize winner. 

The Oberlander Prize was set up by The Cultural Landscape Foundation in Washington DC. It includes a cash prize that comes accompanied by two years of public engagement activities focused on the laureate and landscape architecture. The recipient is an individual who is ‘exceptionally talented, creative, courageous, and visionary' and has ‘a significant body of built work that exemplifies the art of landscape architecture', say the organisers. 

Julie Bargmann

Julie Bargmann, 2021 Oberlander Prize laureate. 

(Image credit: Barrett Doherty)

Bargmann is the founder of D.I.R.T. (Dump It Right There) studio, and a professor of landscape architecture at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. Through her three-decade career, the landscape architect has tirelessly championed the power of designing for the outdoors. Her work focuses on contaminated, neglected, and forgotten urban and post-industrial sites, transforming them into artfully designed havens of green and calm. 

2021 Oberlander Prize jury recognise ‘impact on the public landscape’

‘Unearthing the raw ingredients of design from waste and wastelands defines my life’s work,' Bargmann explains. ‘Both the pedagogy of my teaching and my methodology as a designer address the social and ecological imperatives to reclaim degraded land. Integrating regenerative technologies with design propositions and built landscapes embodies my contribution to the discipline of landscape architecture.'

The jury, including chair Dorothée Imbert, architect Tatiana Bilbao, and designer Walter Hood, was impressed by her body of work. They awarded her the 2021 Oberlander Prize for ‘her leadership in the world of ideas, her impact on the public landscape, her model of an activist practice, and her commitment to advancing landscape architecture both through teaching and design.’

Core City Park Detroit aerial

Core City Park Detroit, MI, Spring 2021. 

(Image credit: Prince Concepts and The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

Turtle Creek Water Works, Dallas, TX, 2021

Turtle Creek Water Works, Dallas, TX, 2021. 

(Image credit: Barrett Doherty, courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

green Turtle Creek Water Works in Dallas

Turtle Creek Water Works, Dallas, TX, 2021. 

(Image credit: Barrett Doherty, courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

Urban Outfitters in Philadelphia

Urban, Outfitters, Philadelphia, PA, 2021. 

(Image credit: Barrett Doherty, courtesy The Cultural Landscape Foundation)

Vintondale Excavated Ponds From Above

Vintondale Excavated Ponds 

(Image credit: press)


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).