Architects Support Ukraine

The tragic events that are unfolding in Ukraine are reaching across the world. AIA California has heard from several in the architectural community who are being directly and personally impacted by the Russian invasion and the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. We are sharing these personal accounts to encourage support and build community.

  • Karen E Lesney-Lysanyuk, Assoc. AIA-E is deeply concerned about her family in Ukraine. They now find themselves struggling on a generational level with the impact the war is having on their nation. Worse yet is the added frustration and bewilderment of family in Russia who only believe the propaganda of Putin. She echoes the immediate need is for humanitarian aid, but reminds us that “not only is this assault on Ukraine devastating to its people – I know there are Russians who are equally crushed by this evil act. These Russians range from regular people who wish for democracy to people who moved during soviet times from Ukraine for better jobs and raised their families there. This moment is crushing the souls of many people both there and abroad. I only hope the country of my ancestors can show this tyrant what real patriotism is looks like.”
  • Yvgenia Watts, AIA (a Ukrainian-American artist) shared her story as a child growing up in Ukraine here. She created these flowers in the time of peace and now wants them to do their magic. All the profit from the sales of the sunflower prints will go towards humanitarian aid in Ukraine.
  • Krystyna Howell, a designer at HMC Architects, reached out to the HMC Designing Futures Foundation (DFF) Board of Directors to share her story and thoughts on the war in Ukraine. Her family is currently trapped in the tragic events and circumstances unfolding in their country.

Feb 24 – Most of the people I work with know that I was born in Ukraine and I came here by myself at the age of 18. My family and many friends remain in Ukraine. Yesterday, my whole family woke up to either sounds or news of war. My brother had to hide underground after sirens were sounding all over the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv. My15-year-old sister (in Central Ukraine, Gorishni Plavni) broke down in tears, reading her Ukrainian emerging leaders and volunteers chat about her friends all over Ukraine seeing and hearing fire. She did not believe the war would happen. None of them did. My grandma in Odessa (another potential strategical spot) was scrambling to get a blood pressure medication when she measured it and saw over 200 on the dial. My 16-year-old brother in Svetlovodsk is worried about the local dam, the biggest water reserve in Ukraine. It can be seen from his apartment window and the whole town would be destroyed if it was to be bombed. He is packing his backpack with water and knife, in case he has to flee or fight. I’m having a hard time working as I watch my family’s chat on Telegram. My family is spread out all over the occupied country, checking on each other, and notable to sleep. Even taking turns sleeping, making sure not to miss a potential siren calling them to hide underground again. Odessa, unfortunately does not even have any bomb shelters. I feel helpless, I feel angry, I feel sad…

Mar 1 – It is getting worse and better at the same time. I am even more afraid for my brother in Kyiv who had to move into the basement for indeterminate period of time. My 15 year-old sister has been volunteering to make camouflage nets for the Ukrainian army (to hide equipment). She noted in Russian, “Not without reason I learned to make rubber bracelets in my childhood.” When the sirens go off, she has to run to the closest basement. A lot of times she is with her other teenage friends who are also volunteering. My mom still has to work at the office (mining factory) where they provide a basement for their employees. She was proud to tell how civilized people act after sirens go off and they all have to hide. All my family, except my grandma in Odessa, has been in and out of basements for the last 5 days. I am very proud of my people doing everything they can to fight for their freedom and against Putin’s fascism. I am hopeful we will win this war. I am not sure how many people have to die for Ukrainian freedom, but I am happy to see the world as united as never before.

Krystyna’s email propelled the HMC Designing Futures Foundation (DFF) into action. DFF is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, founded in 2009, to “Build a Better World by investing in disadvantaged people and communities of color”’. The DFF is supporting these organizations providing food and healthcare, and protecting children from harm, for those fleeing the war.

  1. World Central Kitchen
  2. Doctors Without Borders
  3. Save the Children

We are sharing these stories as we believe it makes the news we’re reading and seeing more tangible. All colleagues in the architecture community are invited to share their personal stories and connections to Ukraine. Please email a quote or testimonial to Adrienne Luce at

Stand With Ukraine!

Ukrainian national embroidered shirts (vyshyvankas) and headpieces worn by (L to R) grandma, my daughter, mom, sister. This was taken  at the park in my hometown, Horishni Plavni in July 2017. Horishni Plavni is a mining city in central Ukraine. My hometown  went  viral when it was renamed from Komsomolsk to Horishni Plavni during decommunization of Ukraine after the events in 2014.

Photo of Krystyna taken by her husband in July 2017.

Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra also known as the Kiev Monastery of the Caves, is a historic Eastern  Orthodox Christian monastery which gave its name to one of the city districts where it is located in Kyiv. The beautiful Kyiv and Dnieper River can be seen in the background.

Year built: 1051

Area:  58 acres

UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription: 1990

UNESCO Site Id: 527






AIA California
AIA California
Celebrating over 75 years of service, the AIA California actively promotes the value of design and advocates for the architectural profession. AIA CA is an association of 11,000 dedicated and passionate members who share a commitment to design excellence and livability in California’s natural and built environments.

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