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Conversation: Carol Ross Barney on Architecture

Thurs, Aug 17 | 6:00–7:00



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  • Free, registration required.
    Ticket includes general admission to the museum 30 minutes prior to the start of the lecture.


Carol Ross Barney on the Chicago Riverwalk. Photo by John R. Boehm.

Join renowned Chicago architect and 2023 AIA Gold Medal recipient Carol Ross Barney for a conversation on her life and work. Barney is joined by Alison Fisher, Harold and Margot Schiff Curator of Architecture and Design, Jen Masengarb, executive director of AIA Chicago, and Eleanor Gorski, CEO and president of the Chicago Architecture Center.

Presented in partnership with the Chicago chapter of The American Institute of Architects (AIA Chicago) and the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC) with additional support from Chicago Women in Architecture and the Art Institute’s Solomon Fund.

About the Speakers


Carol Ross Barney, FAIA, HASLA has been in the vanguard of civic space design since founding Ross Barney Architects in 1981. With a career that spans nearly 50 years, Carol has made significant contributions to the built environment, the profession, and architectural education. From her early days in the United States Peace Corps planning National Parks in Costa Rica to recent collaborations with city governments, Carol has relentlessly advocated that excellent design is a right, not a privilege.

Her body of work, being almost exclusively in the public realm, represents this ethos and occupies a unique place within the panorama of contemporary architecture.

A native Chicagoan, Carol is the mother of three sons and grandmother to Kai and Han.

Harold and Margot Schiff Curator of Architecture and Design Alison Fisher.

Alison Fisher is the Harold and Margot Schiff Curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago. She specializes in alternative histories of modern architecture, design, and urbanism and has curated many exhibitions in these areas, including Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention (2011), The City Lost and Found: Capturing New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, 1960–1980 (2014), Georg Jensen: Scandinavian Design for Living (2018), and Bauhaus Chicago: Design in the City (2019). 

Alison received her M.A. and Ph.D from Northwestern University, and her work has been recognized with grants and awards from the Embassy of France in the United States, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and the Society of Architectural Historians. Her current work includes a long-term project on the Chicago Institute of Design, research on graphic and furniture design from the 1990s, and a multimedia retrospective on American architect Bruce Goff, opening at the Art Institute in 2025.


Jen Masengarb, Assoc. AIA, is the executive director of AIA Chicago. Trained as an architect, her over twenty year career has been devoted to advocating for the profession and meaningfully connecting the public with the built environment around them.

Masengarb joined AIA Chicago in spring 2021 following three years at the Danish Architecture Center in Copenhagen where she focused on expanding DAC’s offerings and outreach to international visitors. Prior to joining DAC, Jen was the director of Interpretation and Research at the Chicago Architecture Center (CAC), where she served for 18 years in a variety of roles and as a subject matter expert in architecture with a focus on outreach to the public. She served on the leadership team for CAC’s 2018 center and authored CAC’s three K-12th grade curricular resources–all of which were awarded AIA National Institute Honor Awards for Collaborative Achievement. Masengarb holds a B.Arch from the University of Detroit-Mercy and a Master’s in Architectural History from the University of Virginia, where she was named the School of Architecture’s 2015 Distinguished Alumni of the Year. 

Eleanor Gorski

Eleanor Esser Gorski, AIA is the CEO and president of the Chicago Architecture Center, the leading organization devoted to celebrating and promoting Chicago as a center of architectural innovation and education. Gorski brings to the role more than 25 years in architecture, historic preservation, and urban planning; a passion for design as a way to create equity; and a wealth of deep experience and knowledge of Chicago.

Gorski is a fellow of the American Academy of Rome, where she studied the integration of new construction and old in Rome, Berlin, and Amsterdam. She’s been recognized by the Rome Prize for Historic Preservation from the American Academy, AIA Chicago’s Distinguished Service Award, and the ULI Chicago Breakthrough Award. She’s been honored by the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group and Landmarks Illinois and is a fellow of the Civic Leadership Academy at the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. She sits on the Local Advisory Board of USC Chicago, Urban Land Institute Chicago board, the alumni board of the University of Illinois School of Architecture, and the Board of the Illinois Medical District. She is a proud mom to two teenage boys and lives in Chicago.

Please note that this is an in-person event that takes place at the museum.

In accordance with state and City of Chicago guidelines, visitors to the museum are no longer required to wear masks or provide proof of vaccination. Anyone who would like to continue to wear a mask is welcome to do so. Learn more about our visiting policies and what to expect.

If you have any questions about programming, please reach out to

Closed captioning will be available for this program. For questions related to accessibility accommodations, please email


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