Carol Ross Barney Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

12.01.2017
By Jenna Lippin

Carol Ross Barney, FAIA

AIA Chicago’s Board of Directors has selected Carol Ross Barney, FAIA, to receive the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award. From her earliest projects to her most contemporary work as the founder of her namesake firm, Barney has been elevating architecture in the public realm for more than 40 years. Ross Barney received the award in October at Designight 2017, which celebrates Chicago’s architectural community and the 2017 recipients of the Design Excellence Awards. 

Ross Barney has been on the frontline of public space design since founding her firm, Ross Barney Architects, in 1981. With a rich career spanning more than four decades, Ross Barney has made significant contributions to the built environment, the profession, and architectural education. As an architect, urbanist, mentor, and educator, she has continued to advocate that superior design is a right, not a privilege. Her body of work occupies a unique place within contemporary architecture, exclusively comprising work in the public realm.  

Her projects vary in type and scale but uphold a commitment to the role architecture plays in quality of life: transit stations that improve the metropolitan experience; buildings that tout sustainability in an overtly compelling way; and spaces that inspire children and future generations to learn, invent, and break boundaries. 

For nearly two decades, Ross Barney Architects has been working along Chicago’s rivers. These efforts include the design of the Chicago Riverwalk, the Bloomingdale/606 Trail Master Plan, CTA Cermak-McCormick Place and Morgan Street Stations, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, James I. Swenson Civil Engineering Building, Oklahoma City Federal Building, and the design of schools for Chicago and communities across the country. 

“This is a tremendous and unexpected honor,” Ross Barney said. “I love Chicago, and it’s a privilege to create public spaces here.” 

Matthew Dumich, FAIA, president of AIA Chicago’s Board of Directors, added, “Carol is known as ‘the People’s Architect’ because her significant contributions to the built environment have a profound daily impact on the way Chicagoans experience and interact with our city through accessible, engaging civic architecture, infrastructure, and public realm design excellence.” 

Ross Barney’s work has been honored with more than 100 design awards, including four national AIA Institute Honor Awards, 40-plus AIA Chicago Awards, two AIA Committee on the Environment (COTE) Top Ten Project Awards, the AIA’s Thomas Jefferson award for Public Architecture, and the AIA Illinois Gold Medal.