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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Smith Family Chapel

scroll View Description
  • Two floors of church pews.
  • A curved second floor balcony.
  • A curved second floor balcony.
  • Entrance and bell tower of chapel in light of a setting sun.
  • View of a church's turning stairwell from beneath.
  • The view of a churches stage.
  • A stone dove framed in a wall.
  • Candles along the pews in a chapel.

Project Process

Riverbend Church is located on a beautiful 52 acre campus in west Austin, comprised of eight different multi-purpose buildings. McKinney York worked to develop a master plan for the campus in collaboration with Overland Partners, and afterwards to include maintenance facilities, a retreat center, an office complex, a columbarium, additional education facilities, and a retirement community.

  • Diagram of a chapel from a bird's eye view.
  • An architectural model of a church.
  • Pencil sketch of building.

Project Details

While attending the inaugural service of the new 2,500-seat sanctuary at Riverbend Church, a teenage girl turned to her mother and asked, ”But where will I get married?” This question led to the concept for a more intimate chapel suitable for smaller services. The Smith family’s commission of this 300-seat chapel and their involvement in the design led to a traditional form reminiscent of their childhood churches. However, the spare detailing and subtle décor intentionally provides a clean palette for individual events to command their own settings. Along with conventional acoustical strategies, the design incorporates state-of-the-art systems for handling air, A/V needs, and lighting that do not intrude on the intimate setting. Despite its location near busy Loop 360, the chapel retains a feeling of calm, taking advantage of its setting above a ravine and near the hill country columbarium developed in conjunction with the chapel.


  • Associated General Contractors of Austin, Outstanding Construction Award, 2001


  • InStyle, Celebrity Weddings, 2003
  • Newlyweds, Nick and Jessica, MTV, 2003