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RECORD has announced the winners of its ninth annual Women in Architecture Design Leadership Awards, which seek to recognize and promote notable women in the field across five categories: Design Leader, New Generation Leader, Innovator, Educator, and Activist. This year’s winners, listed below, reflect a wide range of practice, research, and leadership, and will be honored at our annual Women in Architecture ceremony in New York City on October 20th.

Design Leader: Carol Ross Barney

Carol Ross Barney

Carol Ross Barney. Photo by Tara White

Carol Ross Barney has been in the vanguard of civic space design since founding her Chicago-based firm Ross Barney Architects in 1981. Over the course of her career, Barney’s work has been honored with over 200 major design awards, including twelve national AIA Honor Awards, over 40 AIA Chicago Awards, and most recently the 2021 National Design Award from Cooper Hewitt. For the past two decades, Ross Barney Architects has been working on public projects along Chicago’s riverfront, including the design of the Chicago Riverwalk and the 606 Framework Plan, a masterplan for what was previously the Bloomingdale Trail, an elevated-railway turned park. Other notable projects include the Oklahoma City Federal Building, the McDonald’s global flagship restaurants—both in Chicago and Disney Worldand the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation Synagogue in Evanston, Illinois. Barney teaches an advanced design studio at the the Illinois Institute of Technology, where she also serves on the College Board of Overseers.

New Generation Leader: Jing Liu

Jung Liu

   Jing Liu. Photo courtesy SO-IL

Since co-founding New York-based firm SO — IL with Florian Idenburg in 2008, architect Jing Liu has been on the forefront of interdisciplinary practice and research. Her projects range from artistic collaborations with contemporary choreographers and visual artists to masterplan and major public realm design such as the Melbourne Arts District in Australia. Liu has led her firm in engagement with the socio-political issues of contemporary cities in projects such as the Artists Loft in North Omaha, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in Cleveland, and the Amant campus in Brooklyn. Liu has been a faculty member at Columbia University's Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation since 2009 and serves on the board of urban non-profit the Van Alen Institute.

Innovators: Alison Mears and Jonsara Ruth

As co-founders of the Healthy Materials Lab (HML) at Parsons School of Design, Mears and Ruth are creating resources, educational programming, and innovative housing prototypes for a post-petroleum world. Mears, who previously worked at Pei Cobb Freed & Partners and is an associate professor of architecture at Parsons, also leads the Healthy Affordable Materials Project (within HML), a long-term coalition of four organizations who are working to remove harmful chemicals from the built environment. Ruth is the founding director of the Interior Design MFA at Parson's, where she is an associate professor, and runs the collaborative design studio Salty Labs, which seeks to improve human and environmental health by designing non-toxic and sustainable interiors, furniture, and objects.

Alison Mears
Jonsara Ruth

Alison Mears (left) and Jonsara Ruth (right). Photos courtesy the architects

Educator: Hazel Edwards

Hazel Edwards

Hazel Edwards. Photo by Lydia Carlis

As the first woman to serve as chair and full professor of Howard University's Department of Architecture since the program was established in 1911, Edwards has worked to increase diverse voices throughout the profession throughout her career. Her innovative educational and mentoring techniques have nurtured a new generation of planning and design professionals approaching the built environment with a broad spectrum of cultural values. Last year, Edwards was appointed by President Joseph Biden to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, where she is the first African American woman to serve as vice chair.

Activist: Monica Rhodes

Monica Rhodes

Monica Rhodes. Photo by Corban Swain

Rhodes's impact on the industry ranges from local to international efforts to open up the field of preservation and public lands to new audiences. Prior to becoming a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University’s GSD last year and her current tenure as Rome Prize Fellow in Historic Preservation and Conservation at the American Academy in Rome, she developed the first program at two of the largest national organizations, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Foundation, to diversify the preservation profession and to reinstitute programs in the national parks that tell stories related to African American, Latinx, and women’s history. Over the course of her career, Rhodes has helped raise, deploy and manage more than $150 million in funding and has directed preservation activities in 46 states.

The 2022 winners were selected by an independent panel of architects including Tomas Rossant of Ennead Architects, Mark Gardner of Jaklitsch / Gardner, and former Women in Architecture winners Stella Betts of LEVENBETTS, Julie Eizenberg of Koning Eizenberg Architecture, and Claire Weisz of WXY Studio. To see last year's winners, click here.