Another Lifetime Achievement Award for 'the People's Architect'

John Hill
1. August 2017
Carol Ross Barney in front of a model of the OSU South Campus Central Chiller Plant (Photo: Chicago Architecture Foundation)

Two years after receiving the Gold Medal from the Illinois Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Chicago architect Carol Ross Barney has been named the recipient of AIA Chicago’s 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award.

The announcement, made last week, states: "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 over 40 years." This is something World-Architects has known about for a while, having made a Studio Visit to Ross Barney Architects in 2015 (a few months before her Gold Medal) to see and hear firsthand about the firm's commitment to public projects in Chicago and beyond.

AIA Chicago's statement singles out a few important projects: The Chicago Riverwalk, which opened its third and final phase last year; the CTA Cermak-McCormick Place and CTA Morgan Street stations, which have elevated (pun intended) the quality of design along Chicago's elevated; the suburban Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, a gem of a wooden box; the James I Swenson Civil Engineering Building in Minnesota, covered in Cor-Ten steel; and the Oklahoma City Federal Building, which replaced the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building after the terrorist bombing in 1995.

These and other buildings by Ross Barney Architects clearly illustrate how, in the words of AIA Chicago, "Her body of work occupies a unique place within the panorama of contemporary architecture, being exclusively composed of work in the public realm." Matthew Dumich, president of AIA Chicago’s Board of Directors, sums it fairly well in his statement: "AIA Chicago is tremendously honored to recognize Carol Ross Barney, a visionary trailblazer, generous mentor and vocal community leader. 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 joins Stanley Tigerman, Helmut Jahn, SOM's Natalie De Blois, and numerous others who have received AIA Chicago's Lifetime Achievement Award. She will receive the award on October 13th at Designight 2017, when the winners of the Design Excellence Awards will be announced.

The Chicago Riverwalk (Photo © Kate Joyce Studios)
CTA Morgan Station (Photo © Kate Joyce)
Oklahoma City Federal Building (Photo © Steve Hall)

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