Julie Kachniasz

I’m a designer, educator, and writer with a Master of Landscape Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology and a BA in English from Dartmouth College.  I’m motived to create thoughtful, innovative landscapes that reveal each site’s story and spark conversation.  I believe in the power of our environment to affect our well-being, and I work to create landscapes that enhance our quality of life and draw attention to natural processes. 

My inspirations and catalysts are many: I grew up amidst the bucolic farms of Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania, and then watched many of them disappear, victim to uninspired housing developments.  I admired the historic gardens of Washington, DC and noted how public space could facilitate (or hinder) social interactions, and I gardened for my rent in a small village in Oxford, England, where I valued the tradition of common land.  As a graduate student in Chicago, I explored the city’s layered architectural history and loved its energy, especially as played out in its public spaces, such as Millennium Park.  Now that I call Pittsburgh home, I’m more carefully attuned to each neighborhood’s unique character and wish to celebrate craftsmanship. 


In addition to designing landscapes, I help Carnegie Mellon's School of Architecture with its outreach initiatives, which aim to involve children, teens, and communities traditionally underserved by the design professions in creating architecture. I’ve also taught architectural studios for Carnegie Mellon and, before moving to Pittsburgh, practiced with Wolff Landscape Architecture in Chicago, assisting with the design of urban parks, campuses, and historic restorations.  Prior to my graduate studies, I worked in education and public programs for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC and for Oxford University’s Philosophy Faculty.

I have a particular interest and expertise in full-scale landscape design as well as rain gardens, urban agriculture, cutting gardens, and gardens for children.  I’m continually fascinated by the ways we modify nature and invest it with meaning.

My own small, city garden is a story in process, an evolving assemblage of favorite plants, play spaces, and patios that I share with my English-professor husband and three small children. We plant a tree each year and live in our garden year round. It's part of our narrative.