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 Student Activity Center South Courtyard

scroll View Description
  • students working and talking with one another at an outdoor seating area.
  • A large outdoor seating area and brick path filled with students.
  • landscaping next to an outdoor deck at a university.
  • Man reading book with sitting on large curb feature.
  • Students working at tables on an outdoor deck.
  • A large tree with a deck built around it.
  • A metal structure under trees with 8 hammocks connected filled with relaxing students.
  • People relaxing in hammocks connected to a metal structure.
  • An outdoor deck working area Infront of building.
  • A small water feature Infront of an outdoor seating area.
  • Students working under awnings next to a brick path.
  • A college walking path lit at night.

Project Details

The south courtyard renovation at UT Austin’s Student Activity Center is a micro-reclamation of both human and ecological habitations. Years of heavy use and minimal maintenance resulted in a neglected space suffering from compacted soils, poor drainage, abandoned water features, tree canopy conflicts, little biodiversity, and a lack of usable spaces. The project analyzed spatial and temporal use patterns to define areas of intensive student activity. Reorganized circulation zones focus pedestrian traffic and frame discrete student areas. These student areas form outdoor rooms that are raised above grade to improve drainage, soil and tree root health. The outdoor rooms are dispersed amongst lush native plantings representing different microclimates, adding new habitat to the campus and heightening the diversity of sensory experiences. The result is a revitalized micro-climate with a new sense of place – one that harmonizes the needs of both students and the environment to form a sustainable whole.


  • Austin Home & Design Magazine, Commercial: Landscape Design Award, 2022
  • AIA Austin, Design Award of Merit, 2021
  • Texas ASLA, Merit Award, 2020


  • The Daily Texan, Student Activity Center gets decked out, Sep 2018