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McKinney York Architects

We believe that the best architecture engages people across the full breadth of their humanity – their minds, their hearts, and their senses.

By inviting a cool breeze, a warm memory, or a curious thought, our architecture strives to create a conversation. More than a passing ‘hello, how ya’ doing’ it asks you to ‘sit down a stay a while’. Maybe the conversation starts off about the weather, but for those who have the time and inclination, the chat can grow deeper and more intriguing. By embedding our architecture with strong concepts, we aim to provoke engaging exchanges about ideas, to touch people’s spirit, and heighten people’s perception of themselves and the world around them.

Churchill once said, “We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” He could not have been more on point, so we endeavor to create architecture that lifts the spirit and transforms lives by inspiring people to become their better selves. We work to make places that encourage people to think more deeply, act more boldly and work more effectively; places that motivate people to connect with compassion; and places that invite quiet contemplation or evoke the joy of simple wonder.

The desire to belong is a fundamental human need and buildings structure our relationships to each other, the communities in which we live, and to the natural world around us. They can pull us apart or draw us together. Like us, everything we build is connected to something larger. When mindfully orchestrated, architecture can foster a sense of belonging and draw people together – whether as a family, a neighborhood, a workplace, a campus, a city, or a community of ideas.

  • Engage We create places that engage people by inviting thought, stirring emotions, and awakening senses.
  • Inspire We create optimistic architecture that inspires people to do and be better.
  • Belong We create places where people can belong.

Approach

Our mission to engage, inspire, and belong influences our approach to practice in the following ways:

Concept

Within the McKinney York studio, we practice concept-driven design. This means we develop a foundational concept for every project that becomes an axiom from which design decisions are made.

Concepts vary greatly from one project to another, and we do not place boundaries on what a concept might include or convey. However, a successful concept should be compelling — a common vision with our clients.

Good concepts do not need to be groundbreaking. The most profound results often arise by allowing a concept to inform the simplest aspects of a project, including the ways in which it is experienced and perceived. In the end, we hope a project’s concept is a natural interpretation of our collaborative design process and feels like it was inevitable.

Valid concepts must be able to give direction for design decisions like form and organization while accommodating a project’s practical requirements, but they do not need to be so specific that they produce immediate answers. Exploration will guide the design process.

Design

The act of design is an exploration of a concept and the way it is represented in a building or project. From the planning stages through construction, the recurring questions we ask ourselves are “Is the concept compelling?”, “Does the concept represent the aspirations of our client?”, “Does the design execution creatively reflect the concept?”, and “Should we remove elements that do not advance the concept?”

It should be expected that thoughtful concept-driven design will lead to unique and unanticipated results.  In fact, questioning conventions and traditions is a great way to start the design process.

Most of the architecture we admire were likely unconventional at their time.  However, their endurance is not because of this, but almost certainly because they faithfully represented compelling ideas and concepts.  We humbly aspire to do the same.

Sustainability

Sustainability plays multiple roles within the framework of concept-driven design. As an idea, it informs the conceptual basis of our projects. Health, clean air, longevity, and protecting the natural world are ideas that permeate our work.

As a practical concern, it is used to inspire and test the validity of concepts and design strategies.  Sustainability goals influence and bring richness to the decision-making process.

As technical criteria, it provides guidance for evaluating the success of our projects.  Operational carbon, embodied carbon, indoor air quality, and resilience are several of our most critical concerns.

Our Team

Heather H. McKinney, FAIA, RID Founder

Heather is a guiding force behind the firm’s design voice.  Her ability to listen critically has shaped our collaborative design process, and her skill at teasing out the underlying and unspoken needs of clients is a substantial factor in our projects’ success.  Relying on her depth of experience, she offers insight and wisdom to all of our projects.  In addition to her design contributions, she has devoted herself to cultivating the architectural profession through years of service on boards, commissions, and panels both locally and around the country.

“As a teacher, I am delighted by what her work affords – guidance for my students who are hungry for inspirational examples.”  – Andrew Vernooy, AIA, Dean Texas Tech University College of Architecture

  • Education
  • University of Pennsylvania — Master of Architecture
  • Stanford University — Bachelor of Arts, Mechanical Engineering
  • Associations
  • AIA Austin, President 1993
  • Texas Society of Architects, President 2010

Al York, FAIA, RID Principal

Al is a creative thinker with a knack for disentangling the most inscrutable problems.  With our clients, as well as inside the studio, he plays a special leadership role for the firm – the person able to shift a conversation, reconcile differing viewpoints, or ask the right question at the right time to keep a project moving forward.  In addition to his thorough understanding of the technical aspects of architectural practice, Al came to the firm with a background in teaching, having received multiple honors for his work at Texas Tech College of Architecture.  Al believes in a rigorous formal design approach capable of underpinning an aesthetic flexibility.

“Al’s three-dimensional waterproofing details… I was amazed… I’ve never seen one again on any other project other than a McKinney York project… amazing.”  – Carm Tassone, Harvey-Cleary

  • Education
  • Cornell University — Master of Architecture
  • Auburn University — Bachelor of Architecture, magna cum laude
  • Associations
  • AIA Austin, President 2005, Design Awards Chair 2000-2001
  • Texas Society of Architects

Michelle Rossomando, AIA, RID Principal

Michelle believes in the constant improvement of everything.  She brings to the table a tenacious focus on creative design through every stage of every project.  Complexities and limitations are not allowed to impact a project negatively, and the search for design opportunities is perpetual.  Inside the studio, she constantly evaluates roles and responsibilities, adjusting them to solve problems and match the strengths and desires of every individual.  Michelle places particular importance on creating a communicative and collaborative work environment.

“I cannot recall anyone with as much enthusiasm and dedication to her profession as I experienced with Michelle on our church project.  I am reminded of her dedication every time I step onto our campus.”  -Barbara Ruth, Oak Hill United Methodist Church

  • Education
  • University of Texas at Austin — Master of Architecture
  • Tufts University — Bachelor of Science, cum laude
  • Associations
  • AIA Austin, Design Awards Chair 2003-2004
  • Texas Society of Architects
  • YouthLaunch, Board Member

Will Wood, AIA, RID Principal

As a graduate of both the Architecture and Engineering schools at the University of Texas, Will brings a unique design perspective to the firm.  He is an advocate for modern building practices and energy efficiency with an interest in reconciling those obstacles with the desire for elegant solutions.  In the studio, he leads an ongoing charge to develop and refine our production standards and processes. Will is also interested in materiality and detailing and how they inform design through all phases of a project.

Interests
Photography, travel, cooking, building science

What is your favorite quotation?
“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” -Chuck Close

  • Education
  • University of Texas at Austin — Bachelor of Architecture
  • University of Texas at Austin — Bachelor of Science, Architectural Engineering
  • Associations
  • AIA Austin, Communications Committee Chair 2009
  • Texas Society of Architects
  • BEC Austin, Board Member 2014-present

Brian Carlson, AIA, LEED AP BD+C Principal

Brian has brought a honed design eye and extraordinary client service to a range of high-profile, award-winning projects over his tenure with the firm.  He is an avid and informed gardener, and is sensitive to orienting buildings within a landscape in a way that anchors them to their environment.  Brian’s project leadership enriches our design collaborations with clients; they value his thoughtful responses to their needs and appreciate the clarity, comfort, and character his designs afford.

“We worked closely with our project manager, Brian Carlson… We were continually pleased by his ability to carefully listen to our needs and respond with innovative design solutions that surpassed our expectations.” – Owner, Robbs Run House

Interests
Gardening, cooking

Who was your most valued mentor?
It would have to be my high school art teacher, Eileen Montgomery. She challenged me to think conceptually about what I create.

  • Education
  • University of Texas at Austin — Bachelor of Architecture
  • Associations
  • AIA Austin, Design Awards Chair 2007-2008, Awards Commissioner 2009
  • Texas Society of Architects
  • Octopus Club

Aaron Taylor, AIA Associate

Aaron is drawn to the cause without a champion.  In architecture, that may be a project with a modest budget, a building that contributes to the fabric of the city rather than its monuments, or simply an unconventional design concept that deserves exploration.  His interest in architectural history and theory infuse his work with a sensitivity towards context and precedent.  His experience includes a range of work on educational buildings, science centers, museums, mixed-use developments, and private and institutional master planning.

“Thank you for your efforts to date on our project. The congregation at large is very excited about the expansion and looks forward to a beautiful and functional facility addition.”  – Michael Delamore, Trinity Episcopal Church

  • Education
  • Yale University — Master of Architecture II, cum laude
  • University of Texas at Austin — Bachelor of Architecture, summa cum laude
  • Associations
  • AIA Austin, Design Awards Committee Member 2012-present
  • Texas Society of Architects

Ginger Bradfield Associate, Financial Manager

Ginger is the business anchor for the firm.  She is integral to our contract preparation and management processes and she manages the firms accounting.  Her previous experience in the fast-paced construction industry helps her identify and evaluate ways to run our business better, freeing our architecture team to fully invest their energy into their projects.  She’s a stickler for details with the sharp mind and calm demeanor of an old-school accountant.

Interests
Scuba diving, running, strength training, gardening, NFL

What is your favorite quotation?
“If you argue for your limitations you get to keep them.”

What do you spend the most energy doing outside the office?
Fitness, gardening, being outdoors

What are you good at?
Finances, numbers, analyzing, projecting

  • Education
  • University of Maryland University College — Bachelor of Science, Accounting, cum laude

Courtney Tarr, AIA, LEED AP BD+C Associate

Interests
Other places and everything that goes with that including getting there, the food, the urban design, the transportation network, the buildings, the culture, the history; Almost anything to do with cooking, dining, food history, food culture; Maps – how they’re made, why they’re made, what they do and don’t communicate

What do you spend the most energy doing outside the office?
Cooking, thinking about what to cook next, picking out the next restaurant to try

What was your favorite project?
My favorite project was working on urban design for the Baltimore Red Line light rail.  I enjoyed researching other cities to understand the relationships between transportation, physical space, and people, and identifying design opportunities that were based on these relationships and appropriate for the city of Baltimore.  It was very enlightening and challenging to work directly with community members across the city during design, and to see their varied responses to the many aspects of the project.

What is your favorite city?
Paris – They nailed it.

  • Education
  • University of Oregon — Master of Architecture
  • Georgia Tech — Bachelor of Science, Architecture, summa cum laude
  • Associations
  • AIA DC, Volunteer teacher for Architecture in Schools, 2010-2011
  • AIA Austin
  • Texas Society of Architects

Ko Kuwabara, AIA, LEED AP Associate

What would you do if you weren’t in architecture?
I would scavenge for old and unloved motorcycles, restore them, and find new homes for them.

What is a random fact about yourself?
I am an identical twin, like Tadao Ando.

What is your favorite place?
Teshima Art Museum by Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA.  It is a simple, semi-enclosed concrete structure where you quietly observe drops of water move across the floor.  This may sound a bit odd, but it is a powerful experience, I promise!

  • Education
  • University of Texas at Austin — Master of Architecture
  • University of Virginia — Bachelor of Science, Architecture
  • Associations
  • RBI Austin (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities Austin), 2016 Mentor
  • Architecture for Humanity, Baltimore Chapter, Co-founder 2010-2013

Andrew Green, AIA Associate

Interests
Sculpture, woodworking

What do you spend the most energy doing outside the office?
Looking for ways to bottle and distribute the endless supply of energy and joy my son seems to be tapped into.

What is your ideal project?
A monument, memorial or large scale public art project

What architects and artists do you find inspiring?
Maya Lin, Renzo Piano, Martin Puryear, James Turrell, Richard Serra, Santiago Calatrava, Michael Heizer, Constantin Brancusi, Andy Goldsworthy, Chris Drury, Robert Smithson

  • Education
  • University of Texas at Austin — Master of Architecture
  • Baylor University — Bachelor of Art, Studio Art, magna cum laude
  • Associations
  • Texas Sculpture Group, 2011-present

Molly Hubbs, AIA Associate

Interests
Biking, Woodworking, Lindy Hop, Bowling, British/Swedish murder mysteries, On the Media (Radio)

What do you spend the most energy doing outside the office?
Discovering Texas swimming holes

What is your favorite type of building?
Buildings that celebrate the craft of construction

  • Education
  • University of Texas at Austin — Master of Architecture
  • Fuman University — Bachelor of Arts, Music

Alex Morris

Interests
Making.  That extends to almost everything: graphic design, a backyard deck, music, a dumb joke… I like the process of creating.  I also just realized why my house is perpetually cluttered.

What do you spend the most energy doing outside the office?
Rehabilitating my basket case vintage BMW.  Absurd classic car bubble notwithstanding, it’s a fun and affordable hobby (provided you do every bit of work yourself).

What was your favorite project?
Frost Bank 26 Doors.  It looks like a fairly straightforward finish-out, but the now-40-year-old building was rife with significant structural and MEP and building code and accessibility considerations.  All those layers combined to make a particularly challenging set of constraints that the project team had to negotiate.  I think the result is simultaneously respectful of the character of the Old Austin shopping center and the architectural brand identity of Frost Bank.  I’ve heard Al say many times that to bring out his best work, you have to challenge him; throw a bunch of restrictions on him; cut the budget in half (please don’t cut the budget in half!) – the ability to thrive in those situations is a major part of who we are as McKinney York Architects.

What is your favorite place?
Right now it’s probably Klyde Warren Park (in Dallas – gasp!).  From the front door of our office you can see traffic on the scourge that is I-35, and it’s comforting to think that maybe, someday, we can transform it into a treasured, walkable social hub.

  • Education
  • University of Texas at Austin — Bachelor of Architecture

Patricia Hunt, RA, RID, LEED AP Associate

What do you spend the most energy doing outside the office?
Making things! I feel it’s sort of a dying art. It’s always exciting to have a new project, see it progress and then enjoy the satisfaction of a completed product! I knit, crochet, bead, sew, cross stitch… the list goes on.

What was your favorite project and why?
The Forsyth County Animal Control in Winston-Salem, NC. It was a fun, challenging project, and it was very fulfilling knowing the animals would have a much better chance of being adopted in the new facility than the old, dark, dank one.  I left the dedication ceremony with my kitty, Zelda (who I am still lucky to have 12 years later!).

What is your favorite place?
In terms of architecture? Columbus, Indiana. It seems largely unknown but is teeming with wonderful architecture. For fun? Rome. There’s no end to the things to do and see. It’s amazing to consider its age and how long structures have been there in comparison with the United States.

  • Education
  • Texas Tech University — Master of Architecture

Silvia Izaguirre, RA

Ben Obregon, RA

Interests

Sustainability-specifically passive site and building design concepts, natural building techniques (straw
cob, adobe etc.), public outreach to building officials, lenders, and insurers regarding natural building techniques, photography in general and music photography in particular, construction

What do you spend the most energy doing outside the office?

Backpacking, camping, exploring nature, swimming in natural swimming holes (Hamilton’s pool, Krause Springs, the Blue Hole, Jacob’s well etc.)

  • Education
  • Texas A&M — Bachelor of Environmental Design
  • Associations
  • Austin Green Building Program

Charles Miles, LEED AP BD+C

What would you do if you weren’t in architecture?
Some sort of involvement in politics, the arts, or moviemaking. I think architecture can touch on all of these interests, though.

What is an important lesson you’ve learned?
Things that are worth it often take a very long time, and nothing happens instantly or as fast as you would often like it to.

What is your favorite place?
This changes all the time, but I love love love Tokyo and think it’s just incredible on so many levels–it’s the biggest city in the world but is spotless, runs efficiently, is completely safe, has fascinating buildings and inspiring urbanism, and the people are so nice. Also, I don’t enjoy shopping generally, but shopping in Tokyo is actually a thrill.

  • Education
  • Columbia University — M. Arch
  • Stanford University — Bachelor of Arts
  • Associations
  • National Organization of Minority Architects

Alison Moore, RA

Interests

Writing (anything from White Papers to fictional screenplays to anything in between), furniture design/build, travel and exploring new places.

Who was your most valued mentor?

One of my most valued mentors is a partner of one of the first architecture firms I worked at. He taught me so much about how to think of Architecture as a craft and understanding the details.

What is your favorite project?

My favorite project is a non-profit project for The Refuge Ranch. The Refuge is a place that rescues and rehabilitates girls rescued from sex trafficking. I was involved in creating a boutique on the grounds of the ranch for the girls. Something they could use to teach the girls how to spend their money but also a place that was comfortable and could become a social spot for them. Being involved in a project that could give back to the community for such a great cause is very special to me.

  • Education
  • University of Oregon — Master of Architecture
  • University of Texas at San Antonio — Bachelor of Science in Architecture
  • Associations
  • NCARB
  • Texas Society of Architects

Sarah Simon

Interests
Travel and culture, art (from film and photography to dance and music), and nature

What would you do if you weren’t in architecture?
I would probably be a filmmaker or a professional dancer. Now I enjoy both as hobbies.

Who are your favorite architects, and why?

  • Louis Kahn for his use of light, geometry, and materials so elegantly intertwined
  • Eero Saarinen for his sculptural forms that push the boundaries of inhabitable spaces
  • Charles and Ray Eames for their wide range of creativity. From art to architecture, furniture design, and filmmaking, they really did it all.
  • Education
  • University of Texas at San Antonio — Bachelor of Science in Architecture
  • Associations
  • Associate AIA Member

Allison Draper Administrative Assistant

Interests
Film photography, craft beer, roadtrips, paddle boarding, and exploring new cities.

What would you do if you weren’t at McKinney York Architects?
I’d be a stuntwoman.

What is your favorite building?
The Getty Center in Los Angeles.

  • Education
  • The King's College, New York City — Bachelor of Arts: Media, Culture and The Arts

Panchu Gudigar

Interests
Sketching, watercoloring, photography, cooking, woodworking

What would you do if you weren’t in architecture?

I’d be either a chef or a painter.

What do you spend the most energy doing outside the office?
Sleeping, cooking, photographing

What is your favorite building?
Kahn’s Kimbell Art Museum.  There is something magical about its lighting.

  • Education
  • University of Texas at Austin — Master of Architecture
  • Visvesvaraya Technological University, India — Bachelor of Architecture

Madhuri Shashidhar

Interests
Food culture, swimming, traveling and exploring new cities.

What would you do if you weren’t in architecture?
It’s a toss-up between a career as a pastry chef or a mathematician.

What do you spend the most energy doing outside the office?
Cooking (…and cleaning up after)

What is your favorite quote?
“The sun never knew how great it was until it hit the side of a building” – Louis Kahn

  • Education
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign — Master of Architecture
  • BMS College of Engineering, India — Bachelor of Architecture

Jacob Hurt

Interests
Cooking, travel, film and television

What would you do if you weren’t in architecture?
I’d work as a production designer for movies or television

What is your favorite building?
Fondazione Querini Stampalia by Carlo Scarpa in Venice, because it taught me that great design doesn’t have to be a huge gesture; it can be the small details that make you feel something powerful.

  • Education
  • The University of Texas at Austin — Master of Architecture
  • Ball State University — Bachelor of Science in Architecture

Sofia Bruni

Mariah Green, Assoc. AIA

Interests: 

Fashion, modern art, food, sports (mostly football)

What would you do if you weren’t in architecture? 

I would be a fashion designer. I love to design and draw clothing, (as well as buildings)

What do you spend the most energy doing outside of the office? 

Sketching, or finding a new restaurant to try or a new show to watch

What is your favorite place? 

My favorite place would have to be Chicago; everything about the city screams architecture and I love it.

  • Education
  • Mississippi State University — Bachelor of Architecture

Johan Cheah

What would you do if you weren’t in architecture?
Going to the NBA draft . . . or designing for a tech startup.

Who was your most valued mentor and why?
My parents for making my life easier than theirs. They traveled to America to live the American dream.

What was your favorite project and why?
A tower in an engineering competition . . . It was so satisfying to construct a 5 foot tall model exactly as envisioned and to see it withstand an earthquake test after months of planning.

  • Education
  • University of Texas at Austin — Bachelor of Architecture
  • University of Texas at Austin — Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering

Jorge Blandin, Assoc. AIA

Interests 

Photography, cinematography, music, sports, rollercoasters, extreme sports, gaming, fitness.

What accomplishment are you most proud of and why? 

I am most proud of my thesis because it took a lot of time and effort, and it helped me realize the potential alternative architecture paths that I would like to pursue in the future.

Who was your most valued mentor and why? 

Byron Mouton, AIA. He helped me polish my design skills and instructed me in the process of construction from concept to realization.

What is your favorite place? 

Anywhere I can disconnect from the routine, to clear my mind, spark new ideas, or distract me from my problems.

  • Education
  • Tulane University — Bachelor of Architecture

Culture

Collaboration

Architecture is an interactive process-a series of collaborations between owners, designers, builders, occupants, and the wider community. This process stems from ongoing communication in the studio and with our design team, a lack of ego from the top down, and a collection of talented, enthusiastic design professionals.

We believe that great design is generated when everyone’s unique perspective is heard and respected. MYA supports and encourages a collaborative work environment where individual employees feel empowered to speak their opinions and are given the platform and respect to do so – creating a stronger workplace. The firm celebrates employee differences because we know diversity leads to greater innovation and design.

Collaboration extends beyond the studio to embrace our clients. With each commission we actively engage our clients and listen attentively to uncover the unique qualities of their project and site. The aim of this effort is to reveal not only the client’s top-of-mind goals, but also latent functional and aspirational goals, as these often determine the real success of a project.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

McKinney York is committed to fostering, cultivating, and preserving a culture of ethnic diversity, gender diversity, and inclusion. We are empowered by the distinctive backgrounds and individual life experiences that make every one of our employees unique.

At MYA, we are empowered by the distinctive backgrounds and individual life experiences that make every one of our employees unique. These diverse backgrounds allow us to bring various perspectives to each design opportunity and promote an environment designed by an array of life-experiences. This level of diversity and inclusion allows our team to truly create architecture that inspires people, engages and provides a sense of belonging. The firm embraces and encourages expression of employee’s age, color, disability, ethnicity, family or marital status, gender identity or expression, language, national origin, physical and mental ability, race, religion, sexual orientation, and other attributes that make our employees unique.

We support and encourage the development of employee relationships and foster an inclusive work environment and culture where employees can grow through a collaborative environment. The firm encourages fellow employees to be curious and learn from fellow employees as well as outside perspectives, giving a diverse range of knowledge and expertise. Our firm believes in building a culture that welcomes and supports all different backgrounds to ensure all employees feel supported and valued.

We are also committed to ensuring our employees are actively engaged in the firm, through outreach to internal check-ins. In addition, our firm has implemented a mentorship plan with-in the firm, allowing employees to learn and grow from one another. We believe when employees are engaged, we are all more motivated to contribute to the success of the firm and strive to generate better design.  

Careers

We are always looking for talented designers with enthusiasm and the desire to contribute to a creative and collaborative office. Our team members are optimistic creators, thought leading innovators, risk taking explorers, curious learners, and mindful listeners.

We offer health, dental and vision benefits along with a 401(k) plan where we match contributions, paid time off, paid family/sick leave program, and reimbursement for licensure exams. We are committed to the professional development of our employees by providing numerous opportunities for training, education and career development.

We get together regularly for social events, health and wellness activities and community volunteer days. We feel that these out-of office activities help build deeper relationships between employees and enrich the culture inside the office.

McKinney York Architects was recognized by the Zweig Group as one of the Best Firms to Work For.

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Recognition

Montopolis Recreation and Community Center Design Award Commendation for Affordable Sustainability, AIA Austin

29

American Institute of Architects and Texas Society of Architects design awards

Community First! Village Micro House - 2021 AIA Small Project Award Winner

2

AIA Design Fellows

143

lectures and panels featuring McKinney York staff

206

publications in print and digital

Backyard Art Studio, Featured in Austin Home magazine

121

cumulative years of professional service on AIA Austin and Texas Society of Architects committees

11

projects featured on the AIA Austin Homes Tour

Las Brisas Residence - 2019 Homes Tour

If you would like to know more about our work, please contact us.

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