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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McGarrah Jessee

scroll View Description
  • A large office building on downtown corner.
  • Front view of office building across street at night.
  • Statement red sculptural entrance to office buildings escalators.
  • People working in office with cubicles.
  • People working in individualized cubicles.
  • Lounge area and standing desk of an office building.
  • A concrete walkway bridge in an office building.
  • Stacked glass corner
  • People working together at office. table.

The Story of the McGarrah Jessee Building

Built-in 1953, The American National Bank was an iconic mid-century modern building in downtown Austin that had fallen into disrepair. In 2009, it was listed by Preservation Texas as one of the state’s most endangered places.

  • An old diagram drawing of an Underground parking lot.
  • Black and white photo of banks interior in the 60s

    With Florence Knoll interiors, a Seymour Fogel mural, and the first escalators in town, The American National Bank Building was an icon of mid-century modern architecture in downtown Austin.

  • A very old office space.

    After the bank failed in the 90’s, the building was purchased by the State of Texas, and it entered a dark period in its history.

  • Workers standing in a construction site.
  • A woman restoring a historic mural.
  • Six constructions workers standing pound in the office space they are renovating.

    In 2010, the building was saved from potential demolition, and restored to a condition and purpose befitting its heritage.

“The McGarrah Jesse Building, The Birth and Re-birth of an Architectural Gem”

-Video by McGarrah Jessee

The building was recognized in 2011 by AIA Austin, who awarded it a Citation of Honor.

“[The atrium] once again becomes the central heart of this building, which is the way it was conceived. Unearth that, Take the best of the building, and make it the best of the building again.”

-Anne Fougeron, FAIA

Project Details

The American National Bank Building was an iconic mid-century building in downtown Austin that was vacated and in danger of being lost. Now the McGarrah Jessee Building, the exterior was renovated and McGarrah Jessee, an award-winning branding agency, was placed as the building’s primary occupant. The main goal was to capture the free-wheeling personality of the agency while respecting the original modern architecture and Knoll interiors. The design unfolds elegantly at the atrium of the piano nobile, which is rimmed with Knoll workstations and peels back to reveal a more raw space at the perimeter beyond. The interiors repurpose many items, including grates from the basement parking, plate glass, teak paneling, and marble slabs to finish off exposed columns. New openings were also punched on the western façade to provide a welcoming exterior and allow balanced interior lighting.


  • AIA Austin, Citation of Honor, 2011
  • Heritage Society of Austin, Merit Award, 2011
  • Texas Society of Architects, Design Award, Texas Society of Architects, 2012
  • Honor Award, Preservation Texas, 2012
  • Workplace Award, Architect Magazine, 2012
  • Austin Business Journal, Commercial Real Estate Awards – Office Rehab Winner, 2013
  • Design Award, Texas Society of Architect, 2012


  • Texas Architect, Mid-century Update, Mar 2011
  • Apartment Therapy, Color Inspiration from Austin’s McGarrah Jessee Building, Dec 2010
  • Architect, Citation, McKinney York Architects: McGarrah Jessee Office, Dec 2013
  • Austin 360, Grand Opening Soiree for McGarrah Jessee, Dec. 2010
  • Austin American-Statesman, Austin’s Starr Building to Be Reborn, Jum 2009
  • Austin American-Statesman, Vacant eyesore breathes new life as icon of mid-century Austin architecture, July 2013
  • Austin Business Journal, Grand Opening Soiree for McGarrah Jessee, June 2009
  • Austin Business Journal, Renovated Starr gets ad agency as Namesake Tenant, Nov. 2010
  • Tribeza, Photo Essay, 2021