Carol Ross Barney was born in Chicago, 1949. She began her education in the Chicago Public Schools. In 1958, her father, an accountant and management consultant, was relocated to Düsseldorf in the British sector of West Germany. Returning to the Chicago area for high school, Carol was educated in an all-girls Catholic school. She enrolled in the Architecture program at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign receiving a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 1971.
Barney enlisted in the U.S. Peace Corps immediately after graduation and was assigned to Costa Rica where she worked for the fledgling Costa Rican National Park Service. Her projects included a master plan for coral reef protection and interpretation at Parque Nacional Cahuita, restoration of the historic hacienda at Parque Nacional Santa Rosa and worker housing at Parque Nacional Volcan Poas.
Following Peace Corps service, Barney joined Holabird and Root in Chicago and met her mentor, John A. Holabird, FAIA. The work there ranged from the 1979 AIA Institute Honor Award winning restoration of the Chicago Public Library and Cultural Center to improvements for the Chicago Main Post Office.
In 1973, Carol was a founding member of Chicago Women in Architecture (CWA) and served as CWA's first president. In 1988, while serving in the national AIA Women in Architecture Committee, she was advisor for two related AIA Exhibitions “That Exceptional One” and “Many More”, ground breaking explorations about women architects. CWA brought Barney together with Natalie deBlois, FAIA of Skidmore Owings and Merrill, who remained a close friend until Natalie’s death in 2013.
In 1981, Barney started a solo practice in Chicago. Her college classmate, James Jankowski, FAIA, joined her from 1982-2005 and from 1984-2006 the firm was Ross Barney + Jankowski. Barney was awarded the 1983 Francis J. Plym Traveling Fellowship from the University of Illinois. The fellowship funds travel for research and allowed her to study the post war planning and rebuilding of European cities during 1983-84.
In 2001, construction began for the new Oklahoma City Federal Building that Barney was chosen as the lead designer for the Oklahoma City Federal Building following the terrorist bombing in 1995. The new Oklahoma City Federal Building had the design objective to create a space that was secure but open to reflect our democracy.
Barney has combined teaching with practice since 1976 when she taught at the University of Illinois Chicago. Since 1994, she has been adjunct Professor of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology where she teaches a popular advanced design studio and serves on the College of Architecture Board of Overseers.
In 2005, Carol was awarded the Thomas Jefferson Award from the AIA for her distinguished portfolio of public buildings.2013 AIA COTE Top Ten Green Project Award for Swenson Civil Engineering Building
2013 AIA Divine Detail Award, Citation of Merit for Chicago Riverwalk - Underbridge Canopy Detail
2012 AIA Distinguished Building Award, Citation of Merit for CTA Morgan Station
2012 Evergreen Award for James I. Swenson Civil Engineering Building at the University of Minnesota, Duluth
2011 AIA Distinguished Building Award, Honor Award for James I Swenson Civil Engineering Building
2011 AIA Distinguished Building Award, Citation of Merit for Fullerton and Belmont Stations Reconstruction
2009 AIA COTE Top Ten Green Project Award for Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation
World Architecture Festival 2009 - Category Commendation for Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation Synagogue
2002 AIA Institute Honor Award for Architecture for the Little Village Academy
1999 AIA Institute Honor Award for Interior Architecture for the Little Village Academy
1994 AIA Institute Honor Award for Architecture for the Cesar Chavez Elementary School
1992 Federal Design Achievement Award through the Presidential Design Awards program, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts for the Glendale Heights Post Office
1991 AIA Institute Honor Award Achievement for the Glendale Heights Post Office
She is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Her drawings have been exhibited and collected by the Art Institute of Chicago, the Chicago Historical Society, The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and the National Building Museum. In addition, her oral history has been collected by the Art Institute of Chicago.