Carol Ross Barney

Architect and Founder , Ross Barney Architects

Carol Ross Barney, FAIA, HASLA, has been in the vanguard of civic space design since founding Ross Barney Architects in 1981. With a career that spans over 40 years, Carol has made significant contributions to the built environment, the profession, and architectural education. As an architect, urbanist, mentor, and educator, she has relentlessly advocated that excellent design is a right, not a privilege. 

Her body of work occupies a unique place within the panorama of contemporary architecture, being composed of work primarily in the public realm. Carol’s projects vary in type and scale, but uphold a deep commitment to the role architecture plays in life quality. This has manifest itself in design of spaces that enrich the metropolitan experience; to buildings that are environmental stewards, showcasing sustainability in an overtly compelling way; to spaces that inspire young children and the brightest minds of tomorrow to learn, invent, and break boundaries.

Ross Barney is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Following graduation, she served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica planning national parks. She teaches an advanced Design Studio at IIT and serves on their College Board of Overseers. Carol’s work has been honored with over 200 major design awards, including the 2021 Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, National Design Award for Architecture, twelve national American Institute of Architects Institute Honor Awards for Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Urban Planning and Design, over 40 AIA Chicago Awards, two AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Project Awards, and the AIA Chicago Lifetime Achievement Award, the AIA Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture and the AIA Illinois Gold Medal, all for a distinguished body of work. 

She was named as a “Gamechanger” by Metropolis magazine in 2018. In 2021, she received the Contribution to Architecture Award from the World Architecture News for their inaugural Female Frontier Awards. In 2021she received the Order of Lincoln, the State of Illinois’ highest honor for contributions to the betterment of humanity. 

For nearly two decades, Carol’s studio has been working along Chicago’s Rivers. These efforts include the design of the Chicago Riverwalk and studies on all one-hundred-and-fifty-miles of riverfront across the city. The goal: reconnect people with the dynamic and changing life of the City’s natural resources. In recognition of her dedication to bring people back to Chicago’s rivers, the national American Society of Landscape Architects bestowed honorary membership to Carol in 2018, one of its highest honors bestowed upon non-landscape architects. 

Other Notable projects include the McDonalds’ Chicago and Disney World Flagship Restaurants, CTA Cermak-McCormick Place and Morgan Street Stations, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation Synagogue, James I Swenson Civil Engineering Building, Oklahoma City Federal Building, Bloomingdale / 606 Trail Master Plan, Multi-Modal Terminal at O’Hare International Airport, the new Railyard, a park in Rogers, Arkansas and design of schools for Chicago and communities across the country, including a renovation of her alma mater, Regina Dominican High School.