Carol Ross Barney, FAIA, is founder and Design Principal of Ross Barney Architects. Her building designs have received numerous honors including 4 Institute Honor Awards from the American Institute of Architects and over 30 AIA Chicago Design Awards. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and currently teaches an advanced Design Studio at IIT in addition to serving on their College Board of Overseers.
Beginnings – What attracted you to architecture and how did you begin your career? Was there an influential experience, or mentor, that helped steer you toward this field?
I have always aspired to be an artist and until my junior year in high school, I thought I would be a painter. But as the decision time for college grew closer, I found myself looking for a career that would let me contribute more to society…make a better place. For me, architecture was a fit and I have never looked back.
What does “architecture culture” signify to you, and how do you go about contributing to, and/or changing, this culture? What are your hopes and dreams for the future of architecture and the built environment?
My dreams are for the future of cities…places where we live together. I want to help us understand the transformative effect space has on human interaction. I want good design to be a right and not a privilege.
Advice for someone interested in entering an architecture-related field?
The skills an architect needs are the ability to identify the essential challenge a project presents and to synthesize solutions that solve that challenge. Too many designers are distracted by inconsequential demands that are not true needs. Good design is essential and uncluttered.
I would also tell them that architecture is unbelievably rewarding because it is more than a job…it is truly a vocation.
Favorite site, place, building? Why does this particular location speak to you?
…city, definitely Paris. I didn’t know what a city could be until I was in Paris as an architecture student.
…building, Inland Steel. I had my studio in Inland Steel for many years. I moved there because I loved the building in its context. I like the honesty and creativity of its materials and details. Inside our office the intimate floor plate and full glazing created a true city space.
– Carol Ross Barney profile in the BWAF Dynamic National Archive
– Carol Ross Barney biography at Ross Barney Architects
– Carol Ross Barney on Wikipedia
– An interview with Carol Ross Barney, with Lynn Becker
– Oral history project with Carol Ross Barney (videos)
– ArchDaily: Fermilab Office and Technical Education Building / Ross Barney Architects