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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The University of Texas at Austin Holland Family Student Center

scroll View Description
  • An outdoor patio of a university building shaded by trees.
  • Two students working together at desk.
  • A student centers study lounge.
  • Elevator lobby.
  • A reception desk of a student center.
  • Lounge chairs and table arrangements in open lobby seating area.
  • a small indoor cafe in a college lobby space.
  • A small seating lounge.
  • Students working at desks and table of a student center.
  • Students working at computers.
  • Outdoor patio eating space.

Project Process

McKinney York performed an extensive analysis of existing conditions, space needs and potential options for this feasibility study for an addition and renovation for the Geology Building at the Jackson School of Geosciences. The existing building is located along the East Mall of the University, which offers an opportunity for a dramatic presence by the Jackson School within the campus master plan. Programmatic elements included a student lounge containing areas for casual gathering adjacent to a coffee bar; a two-story space for informal meetings fronting the East Mall; student meeting, advising, and work rooms; and new research laboratories, classrooms, and seminar spaces. Relocation plans for faculty and administrative offices were required to accommodate these new spaces.

  • Sketch of a large college buildings front face.
  • Sketch of large main lobby.
  • Sketch of large outdoor patio.
  • Sketch of study lounge.
  • Sketch of a study lounge in a college building.
  • Sketch of large buildings cross section.

McKinney York was also commissioned to design the fundraising brochure used to show the project to potential donors.

  • Picture publication open up on table.
  • Picture publication open up on table.

Project Details

With 15,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, the Student Center provides a central hub for the Jackson School of Geosciences community, befitting the preeminent international geosciences program. With a new glassy façade and courtyard prominently located along the East Mall in the heart of the campus, the Student Center is the new “public face” for the school, welcoming students, faculty, and visitors. McKinney York transformed a dark, double-loaded corridor and office space into a wide open, daylit area for study, meetings, dining, and casual interaction.  A casual study space – visually anchored at either end by a 6’ diameter projection globe and a 1,600 lb. geode specimen from the school’s collection – look onto an expansive, tree-shaded courtyard and rock garden.  A rich palette of materials emphasizes stone and earthy colors in keeping with the school’s mission. Donor recognition elements are thoughtfully integrated into the fabric of the architecture.

Sustainability: LEED CI Gold Certified, reduction of urban heat-island effect, bicycle storage and shower facilities, air and water permeable paving systems to reduce storm-water runoff and ensure health of existing trees, high-efficiency plumbing fixtures (35% reduction over code), drought-tolerant native vegetation, high-efficiency irrigation, high-efficiency lighting (30% power reduction over code), daylight and occupancy sensing controls, zoned heating and cooling, day-lit occupied areas, salvaged and reused materials, locally manufactured and extracted materials. 96% FSC certified woods, 97% of construction waste diverted from landfill, low-emitting materials, views to exterior, high-efficiency ventilation, construction air quality control plan


  • Associated Builders & Contractors, Excellence in Construction Award State and National, 2012


  • Austin Business Journal, UT Geology School Remodel Revolves Around a Magic Planet, Mar 2013