McKinney York 40 Years of architecture that engages, inspires and belongs
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Celebrating 40 Years of Design!

In celebration of our 40th anniversary, we take a closer look at each word of our mission statement that influences our approach to practice. We create spaces that belong to people through mindful placemaking, identity, and connection.

headshot of Brian Carlson

“As architects we are tasked with meeting the needs of our clients, but we also have a calling to respond to the wider community. We are continually in a posture of listening and learning to create a sense of belonging for those who experience our work, and have found that a project receives its vitality through the contributions of everyone involved – the clients, the users, the community, and members of the design team.”

– Brian Carlson, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Principal


The Montopolis Recreation and Community Center is the centerpiece of the community serving as a central gathering and activity space, and a gateway to the Montopolis neighborhood. Through its materiality and reserved integration into the site, the design reflects the relaxed, unpretentious attitude the neighborhood sought, while providing connectivity and identity through communal spaces such as the gym, multipurpose rooms, and boxing center.

upstairs lobby with view of railings in foreground, building's front windows to the left, and exercise room with boxing punching bags to the right

Montopolis Recreation and Community Center View Project


In celebration of our 40th anniversary, we take a closer look at each word of our mission statement that influences our approach to practice. We create places that inspire people to do and be better through optimistic, thoughtful architecture.

headshot of Al York

“Most of our lives are spent within and around a built environment that shapes our lives and colors our thoughts and feelings. It seems to me that architects have an obligation to elevate that experience. We endeavor to create architecture that lifts and transforms lives by inspiring big ideas and bold actions, or quiet contemplation and simple wonder.”

– Al York, FAIA, RID, Principal


The McGarrah Jessee, an iconic building in downtown Austin exemplifying mid-century architecture, is home to the award-winning advertising and brand development agency. The renovation breathes new life to the building while delicately balancing historic preservation with a level of creative innovation that pairs with its occupant.

image of McGarrah Jessee building looking into red tunnel entrance opening to stairs and escalators towards geometric mural on back wall

McGarrah Jessee Building View Project


In celebration of our 40th anniversary, we take a closer look at each word of our mission statement that influences our approach to practice. We create places that engage people by inviting thought, stirring emotions, and awakening senses.

headshot of Will Wood

“One of our responsibilities as designers of the built environment is to engage our clients and the people that may experience our work. At the most ambitious level, we do that by developing concepts in each of our projects. Through careful planning, we hope our design decisions feel as though they are self-evident, ultimately creating opportunities for that engagement to occur.”

– Will Wood, AIA, RID, Principal


The Rox, Duke, and Danay Covert Admissions Welcome Center is the “front door” for prospective students at the University of Texas at Austin, designed to entertain, educate, and engage visitors while sharing the energy, sprit, and possibilities of the university.

image of Welcome Center at the University of Texas at Austin, wood slat panel wall with longhorn logo detail

Admissions Welcome Center View Project


Over the last four decades, we’ve had the opportunity to collaborate on hundreds of projects, each rooted in our desire to connect people to each other and the world round them by creating architecture that engages, inspires, and belongs.

headshot of Heather McKinney

“We believe our work is better when all voices are heard, and we are deeply committed to improving the built environment through inclusive and sustainable design. As we look ahead to the next decades and our continued growth in central Texas, we remain committed to our mission to create architecture that resonates across the full breadth of people’s humanity – their minds, their hearts, and their senses.”

– Heather McKinney, FAIA, RID, Founder


residence exterior at dusk with lighted interior looking through glass windows into foyer with winding stair

Winter Park Residence View Project

You can explore the studio to gain insight into our design philosophy and approach, or see our ideas come to life by viewing our work.

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Austin ISD Sánchez Elementary School Modernization

scroll View Description
  • Kids walking past large windows of a hallway in a line.
  • kids walking through hallway in a line.
  • Kids walking down hallways of elementary school.
  • children reading on reading steps of school.
  • Children working at desks in an art room.
  • A combined elementary school gym and cafeteria.
  • Kids listening to a teacher read to them.
  • A renovated elementary school library.
  • Kids playing outside of a school with a colorful green fence.
  • Kids playing in playground of an elementary school.
  • A playground on an elementary school

Project Details

A significant challenge in the renovation of George I. Sánchez Elementary was to create a modern learning environment that embraced the community’s historic roots and values in a meaningful way. Just east of IH-35 in downtown Austin, this neighborhood school required an inclusive design that celebrated its bilingual Spanish-English culture; reconciled historic East-West disparities; and incorporated the community’s voiced values of equity, flexibility, and connectivity.

This theme of duality informed the design concept and resulted in a reconfigured circulation spine connecting the communal gathering spaces – Dining, Fitness, Learning Stair, Library – and extends outward to culminate in welcoming canopies at the East and West entries. The motif of a double-headed snake, symbolizing growth and transformation, is manifested through undulating, banded slats which wrap the communal spaces and extends through the roof – a striking serpentine “billboard” promoting the school. Strategic use of colors, patterns and textures add richness on a tight budget.


  • AIA Austin, Design Award of Excellence, 2023
  • Learning by Design, Awards of Excellence, Outstanding Project, Fall 2022
  • Spaces4Learning, Education Design Showcase, Project of Distinction, 2022
  • Exhibit of School Architecture, Stars of Distinction Award, 2022-23
  • American School & University Educational Interiors Showcase, Outstanding Designs, Common Areas, 2022
  • ULI Austin Impact Awards, Best Project Design, Finalist, 2022


  • Texas Architect Magazine, Dwelling in Dualities, May/June 2022
  • School Construction News, Modernized Masterpiece, March/April 2022
  • Austin – San Antonio Home Design, What Will Schools of The Future Look Like?, August/September 2020