keernsmith is an emerging architecture practice based in San Francisco, CA. Established in 2017 by partners Ryan Keerns and Kristen Smith, the practice is an outgrowth of a decade-long collaboration between its partners that spans the globe.
We believe that architecture has the power and responsibility to create meaningful experiences for everyone. As such, we design spaces of all types, scales and budgets intended to engage both site and user in an active, participatory dialogue. With an ongoing interest in the relationships between personal and public space as described in architecture, our work explores ways in which geometry, scale, organization and materiality can expand one’s relationship with place in profound and, sometimes, surprising ways.
Our process is open and fluid, always in search of the unique potential of each project. Working closely with clients and collaborators, we combine serious research with playful experimentation, digital processes with traditional craft and knowledge of the past with projections for the future.
Ryan brings an intense intellectually curious approach to every project. Surrounded with books and maps, he seeks to understand the project’s mission and goals, place and atmosphere, and precedent projects that contribute to the cultural legacy of the architectural discipline.
Working with a few firms across the United States and pursuing projects independently, he has contributed to a vast array of project types that span the globe. Most recently, he served as Project Manager/Project Architect on the Manetti Shrem Museum of Art at UC Davis, a project that has won high praise from architectural critics, been published globally in numerous publications and has been the recipient of multiple design awards.
In addition to project work, Ryan is an Adjunct Professor at the California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Teaching an Integrated Building Design studio, he promotes an opportunistic exploration of techniques, ideas and research born of an endless fascination with the world around.
Kristen Smith co-founded keernsmith with the desire to create spaces that inspire. Her work focuses on the intersection between ephemerality of interior space and the permanent characteristics of a lasting architectural legacy.
Kristen has worked professionally for nearly a decade in both San Francisco and Philadelphia on projects ranging from objects and furniture to complex buildings and master plans. She is passionate about creating vibrant, sometimes surprising experiences that elevate everyday materials and activities.
In addition to her professional work, Kristen is active in academia. She has led design studios and seminars in representation and fabrication at California College of the Arts, UC Berkeley and University of Pennsylvania. She is currently an Adjunct Professor of Architecture and Interior Design at California College of the Arts where she teaches design studios that partner with community organizations to re-imagine public space.