Carol Ross Barney, 1949

  • Carol-Ross-Barney-WWP

Woman Category: ArtsWoman Tags: Architect and Chicago Metro Area Women

  • HerStory

    American architect, the founder and design principal of Ross Barney Architects, and the co-founder of the Chicago Women in Architecture.

    Born in Chicago, Illinois. At the age of 9, the family relocated to Düsseldorf, Germany, until she attended high school. After her graduation, she enrolled to study Architecture at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. At 22, a week after receiving her degree, she and her husband joined the US Peace Corps, assisting in the preservation and protection of Costa Rica’s national parks. Coming back to Chicago, she was hired by the architectural firm Holabird and Root, where she worked on the Glendale Heights Post Office, for which she received multiple awards. At the age of 24, she co-founded the Chicago Women in Architecture and served as its first president.
    In 1981, she started her practice, followed by clients from her old firm. A couple of years later, during her studies for a master’s degree in Architecture, she was awarded a fellowship that allowed her to travel to Europe, exploring post-war rebuilding and planning of various cities. In 1997, she was chosen to design the Oklahoma City Federal Building and became the first female architect to lead a federal building commission. Her approach to architecture is that excellent design is not a privilege but a right, and her work is known for being innovative, sustainable, and accessible for all. It is shown in her design of the Chicago RiverWalk – a pedestrian waterfront located on the Chicago River. She created an urban park that connects the city to the river, and with the terraces and benches, she provided a green refuge from the city’s intensity .
    Barney is also a Professor of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, teaching advanced design studio, and serving on the College of Architecture Board of Overseers.

    “My mother wanted to be the first woman president. She was born in 1924. Instead, she had eight children.”

    “My mother wanted to be the first woman president. She was born in 1924. Instead, she had eight children.”


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • Her favorite building in Chicago is the Inland Steel.
    • If she wasn’t an architect, she would probably be a filmmaker.
    • In 1988, she served in the national AIA Women in Architecture Committee. In this position, she was an advisor for two AIA Exhibitions that explored women architects.
    • She has three sons.
    • Her drawings were exhibited at several art and design museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago and the National Building Museum.
  • More About Her Legacy

    * She received more than dozens of awards for her architecture work including the AIA Chicago Lifetime Achievement Award (2017)

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  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • Urban waterways | Carol Ross Barney | TEDxIIT

    This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Urban living is more sustainable with the ease of mass transit, which reduces carbon emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. However the construction of new transit infrastructure is costly and slow. Can urban waterways be effectively used to provide efficient transit quickly and cost effectively?

    Carol Ross Barney is one of the most well known architects here in the City Of Chicago and professor at IIT. As an architect she focuses on water transportation and water systems to improve our city. Carol Is a native Chicagoan, Architect and current professor at IIT. She became the first woman to design a federal building when commissioned as architect for the Oklahoma City Federal Building, which replaced the bombed Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. She served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Costa Rica, planning national parks.

    About TEDx, x = independently organized event In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

  • Barney in 2014 at the Chicago Riverwalk. Photo credit - Wikipedia