McKinney York 40 Years of architecture that engages, inspires and belongs
Contact Latest News

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.

Back to Top

Is an ADU Right for You?

Addressing the Limitations and the Potential

Accessory dwelling units (ADUs) have been around for ages–think garage apartments–but have seen a huge surge in popularity over the past decade. Their potential uses are numerous; they can contribute to the vitality of urban fabric, increase housing density, generate a new income stream, create space for a favorite hobby, provide a residence for family members, and more. Many, in fact, are designed with flexibility in mind to do more than one of these at once or over time.

Many municipalities have revised or are in the process of revising their development codes to address growing demand for this type of building. It’s critical to thoroughly understand your property and any zoning or development restrictions it may be subject to. For instance, the City of Austin has ordinances governing the development of ADUs and their use as rental properties. These ordinances cover factors such as minimum lot sizes, building setbacks, parking, and square footage requirements. Lot zoning, location within the city, and whether the owner lives on the same property are also considerations depending on the desired use for the ADU.

Designing an ADU means working within many of the same rules that apply to the design of a typical single family home, but frequently with less wiggle room as the site has already been built out. Impervious cover, encroachment around trees, and site access are all limited by the existing structure, requiring greater flexibility and creativity on the part of the architect. Additional aesthetic considerations also apply, as the ADU should mesh with the character of the existing house as well as the scale of the surrounding neighborhood.

At our Avenue G Alley Flat, we created an airy, practical home that nests generous living, dining, and kitchen spaces, two bedrooms, two and a half baths, and two covered parking spaces into the back of a lot in Austin’s North Loop neighborhood. The footprint fits around critical root zones, ensuring continued health of the surrounding trees, while dramatic roof angles allow abundant light inside without altering their canopies. Gravel groundcover avoids both the impervious cover of pavers and the water requirements of grass–a sustainable solution to allow maximal building density on the lot. The massing is respectful of the neighborhood’s scale and the materials and colors respond to the existing house.


Our Backyard Art Studio uses clever strategies to fit lots of function into a small form. Sited on the footprint of a demolished outbuilding, this backyard retreat serves as art studio, pool house, and guest quarters to sleep four. The structure blends materials that change and patina over time with more traditional nods to the main house and its historic neighborhood context. It nestles into an underused corner, maximizing the available backyard area by taking advantage of the existing footprint to eke into the rear setback and folding the myriad program requirements into an efficiently-layered, multifunction space.

If you or your organization would like more information on this topic, please email us.