Kyna Leski was chief critic of the European Honors Program from 1993–95 and has taught in the Architecture, Foundation Studies and Industrial Design departments. She authored the first-semester core architecture design curriculum used at RISD for 17 years by more than 1,800 students and a book on this pedagogy, The Making of Design Principles, which was published in 2007.
Leski is a principal of 3SIXØ Architecture in Providence, which was founded in 1997. 3SIXØ’s work includes a house to dwell in – in awe, a church that inspires and expands, a store that contracts into a restaurant bar, a salon that extends the life of the city inside and a pedestrian bridge that connects a historic past to today. The Rhode Island AIA has bestowed its top honors on 3SIXØ 17 times, and the Boston Society of Architects has awarded 3SIXØ four times. In 2002 Architectural Record named 3SIXØ one of ten “vanguard” architecture firms emerging worldwide and in 2008 recognized 3SIXØ with a Record Interior award.
Leski’s design for a house of visual shadows, which she calls Dream House, was awarded first place out of 480 entries in the Shinkenchiku Residential Design Competition in 1998. Architect Shin Takamatsu, called her winning design “outstanding” and said of it, “Light undergoes variations and dislocations and becomes architecture. It is an architecture that resembles the topography of light. The process undergoes both interruptions and leaps forward. Each moment it becomes more complex and attains a new depth of beauty. The architecture is woven into it. It is true poetry.”
In 1997 the Architectural League of New York selected Leski as one of five winners of its annual Young Architects Competition, and in 2000 she was nominated for a Chrysler Design Award. She has served as the city architect design decision review advisor to the mayor of Providence. She is a competitive rower who can be found most mornings before dawn on the Seekonk River and Narragansett Bay in Providence.
Academic Research/Areas of Interest
I explore, witness, and practice the creative process through my work and my teaching. As a child, I was reprimanded for getting bored easily, and now I see that weakness, like all “weaknesses,” as a strength. (Getting bored keeps me moving ahead.) I live in a city whose name, “pro–videre,” signifies what creativity is: a process of “seeing ahead.” We see ahead when we make designs that are materialized in the future, when we write problems that anticipate solutions, when we link one step to another in navigating our lives and the way through anything, especially the empty page, writer’s block, confusion, chaos, needs and questions. The creative process is the story of this passage and speaks for the author, to the user, the reader, inhabitant, audience or viewer. I have listened and observed these workings as a teacher, a student, a maker, a writer and an architect myself. As an educator I am dedicated to embodied learning, to the precision of mind that comes from measured making and to the clarity of abstraction. As a student, an aspiring/practicing actor and witness, I seek to learn something, to be surprised by the author’s voice and to find coherence where there wasn’t any. As a maker of things, a designer and a writer, I dwell in uncertainty, follow poetry as a process, reason with material, construct, deconstruct and reconstruct – conceptual clarity appearing as a guide. I watch the sunrise almost every day from a rowing shell, am moved to tears by honesty and take dreams very seriously.