Barney, Carol Ross

Carol Ross Barney

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  • Regina Dominican High School, Wilmette, IL, 1966
  • University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, B. Architecture, 1971, Fellowship in Architecture, 1982-83

Years of practice

1965–1995 (estimated)


  • Holabird and Root
  • Ross Barney + Jankoski, Inc.

Professional organizations

  • Joined AIA in 1975
  • Became AIA fellow in 1992


Chicago, Illinois, industrial


Early life and Education

Carol Ross Barney lived in Illinois and graduated University of Illinois with B.A in Architecture in 1971, Fellow of Architecture, 1982-83.

Career in Architecture

Barney worked as draft person and a lead designer at Holabird and Root. Her assignments included well-known buildings like the Chicago Public Library Cultural Center and historic train station revitalization projects. Barney founded Ross Barney + Jankoski, Inc., which is the largest woman-owned architectural firm in Chicago. In 1990, the firm was cited by Crain’s Chicago Business as one of  Chicago’s top 25 woman-owned firms.

Major Buildings and Projects

  • Seward Hedges Elementary School, Chicago, IL 1992

This school is kindergarten through 8th grade, to be constructed by the Chicago Public Schools in 1991. The design focuses on two issues: creating an identity for the new building, and using the small urban site efficiently. On two sides, the site is bordered by the backs of two- and three-story commercial buildings. The building consists of functional modules arranged on a single loaded circulation spine affording all the classrooms and playgrounds a view. Primary colors and geometric building elements create a strong positive identity in the otherwise gray and brown urban landscape. Strong color is carried into the interior corridors and common spaces, but classrooms are finished in neutral white walls and natural wood to become a canvas for the creative and learning activity of the children.

  • Chicago Public Library Cultural Center Restoration, Chicago, IL 1977

The 1892 Central Library Building was functionally obsolete. After extensive studies, it was decided not to restore but to renovate the building for adaptive re-use as a popular library and cultural center. The major design objectives were to preserve as many of the existing features of the building as possible; to provide a neutral background to enhance these existing features; to unify the variety of existing architectural elements and details; and to open the building spatially so that it would be inviting and easy to use.

  • Illinois Bell Telephone Co. Remote Switching Facility Gurnee, IL 1991

Sited on an outlot at the entrance of a 2.2 million sf regional shopping mall, the building is entered only by an occasional technician, but seen by literally millions of people. Responding to this high visibility, the design attempts to create sculpture using the functional elements of the building. The brick used is sandy-faced and earth tones. Concrete walls are painted grass green, rising gently from the lawn, screening equipment. The sculptural quality is carried to the landscaping by a row of graduated size boulders emerging from the sidewalk in line with the front door. Glendate Heights Post Office,Glendale Heights, IL 1989 This 24,000 sf suburban post office is the only retail operation in a warehouse-filled industrial park. Pleasant and stimulating retail space was a high priority for the Postal Service. Since the first impression of the building is from a busy highway, the façade is scaled to be comprehended at 45 mph.

  • Oak Brook Village Hall Oak Brook, IL 1975

The design of Oak Brook Village Hall is focused on a blending of architectural and interior design to create a municipal center in a park-like setting that not only functions but also reflects the community character. The building is divided into public and private functions. Public functions open onto a two-story galleria connecting various departments, eliminating the maze-like character of many municipal buildings. Private functions, such as police security areas, are located at the lower level of the site with a separate secure entrance system. Brick and wood establish a neutral interior color palette. Bright colors in upholstery and laminates act as accents in carefully chosen locations.

  • Eckhardt Ryerson Hall Renovation Chicago, IL 1991

Eckhardt and Ryerson Halls are among the original quadrangle buildings on the University of Chicago campus. When the Physics Department moved to new quarters, the buildings were remodeled to accommodate Computer Science and Mathematics. Renovation included new office spaces, tuckpointing and roofing, and the addition of a connecting bridge at the third floors. The bridge and interior designs were sympathetic to the original Gothic style of the building.

Press and Awards

  • “Ross Barney and TKDA’s University of Minnesota Duluth Engineering Building Honored for Green Design.” Duluth News Tribune April 30, 2013.
  • Swenson Civil Engineering Building, University of Minnesota Duluth, with TKDA, AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Buildings 2012
  • Glendale Heights won an AIA Honor Award in 1991
  • Glendale Heights won Chicago Chapter AIA Distinguished Building Award
  • Ravinia Station won the Highland Park Restoration Award in 1989, and Lockport Station was honored as project of the year by the American Public Works Association in 1987
  • The Chicago Public Library Cultural Center won 1977 AIA Honor Award
  • Chicago Tribune included her in their annual review  “86 to watch in 86.”
  • Published in Architecture magazine and Inland ArchitectWashington PostChicago Sun Times, andUSA Today.
  • Oak Brook Village Hall design awarded the prestigious silver medal from the Illinois Indiana Masonry Council in 1976
  • Bell Telephone Co. Remote Switching Facility won  Chicago Chapter AIA, Distinguished Building Award, National Endowment for the Arts National Honor Award for Facility Excellence, and AIA National Honor Award

Institutional Affiliations

  • 1982: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Plym Fellowship to study and write about architecture abroad
  •  1991: Keynote speaker at the University of Illinois Architecture Department commencement speech.


Her proposal for a new elementary school in Chicago was exhibited in the juried 1991 Exhibit of School Architecture, sponsored by the National School Boards Association and the AIA.