MAS Context Dialogues | Carol Ross Barney



This post is part of MAS Context Dialogues, a series of conversations with Chicago-based designers hosted by Stephen Killion.



Carol Ross Barney, a Chicago native and graduate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is the founder of Ross Barney Architects. With a heavy focus on research-based design practices her firm has had the ability to execute award-winning projects across multiple traditional design disciplines and scales. Not afraid to try something new, Ross Barney Architects make it a point to approach each project with a fresh perspective in the hopes of finding what the local community might bring to the project, and how that will affect the final design outcome.

With an extensive number of successful cultural, institutional, governmental, and infrastructural projects under her belt, it can be easily assumed that she has a true interest in the positive effects of her work on the public realm. Known locally for projects such at the Chicago Riverwalk and the Bloomingdale Trail (The 606), Carol has found a way extend her approach to designing buildings into the public realm. This cross-disciplinary approach has made for a practice that understands that the most important part of any project is the people that utilize the space.

Since starting her practice in 1981, Carol has made a name for herself by understanding that any architectural project is not created in a vacuum, but that the greater community has to be considered for a successful project to be created. This truth is at the heart of her work, and because of this the firm has been able to achieve a diverse portfolio of work that manages for each project to feel simultaneously unique and yet retain a similar consistent voice.



Chicago Riverwalk © Kate Joyce Hedrich Blessing Photographers. Courtesy of Ross Barney Architects



Bloomingdale Trail Design Framework © Ross Barney Architects



CTA Cermak McCormick Station © Kate Joyce Studios. Courtesy of Ross Barney Architects



CTA Morgan Station © Kate Joyce Studios. Courtesy of Ross Barney Architects



OSU South Campus Chiller © Brad Feinknopf. Courtesy of Ross Barney Architects



OKC Federal Building © Steve Hall Hedrich Blessing Photographers. Courtesy of Ross Barney Architects


Intro Song
“Strella, Sing a Singsong to the Moon” by Studio Noir is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License.


Carol Ross Barney, FAIA, is the founder and president of Ross Barney Architects. She is responsible for the design excellence of all projects undertaken by the studio. A native Chicagoan, Carol has developed a keen understanding of the special needs of institutional and public clients which has produced distinctive structures that have become cultural icons. Her work has been published in national/ international journals and has been exhibited in Chicago, New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. Under her leadership, Ross Barney Architects has received more than 60 major awards, including 4 National AIA awards, 2 COTE Top Ten awards and the 1995 AIA Illinois Firm of the Year. In 2005, Carol received the American Institute of Architects Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture, acknowledging a distinguished career and dedication to Architecture in the public realm. | @r_barc

Formally trained as an architect, Stephen Killion uses his parallel understanding in both the architectural and graphic design discipline to advance an ongoing curiosity in how users inhabit, interact and understand the built environment through design. In addition to his award winning multidisciplinary design background, he has showcased and highlighted notable projects by acting as a contributing writer/editor for Mark Magazine, Architizer and Design Bureau.

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