McKinney York Architects works hard to be transparent. “We’re interested in our work being as unique to the client as it can be, and less about making an architectural statement where someone walks through the door and says, that’s a McKinney York project,” says Heather McKinney, FAIA, LEED AP. While many architects strive for that quality in their work, McKinney York achieves it. The firm’s houses are disciplined and geometrically precise, yet idiosyncratic—modern without fitting a mold.
In addition to nurturing a culture that’s creatively generous toward clients, McKinney and partners Al York, AIA, and Michelle Rossomando, AIA, are energized by the community engagement that comes from volunteer work. They’re active in a program that brings architecture into elementary schools, as well Austin’s Arthouse and the annual American Institute of Architects (AIA) Austin homes tour. “We’ll have people come into the office and say, ‘I remember your house from 12 years ago on the tour, and we said when we get our act together we’ll hire McKinney York,’” McKinney says. In 2007, AIA Austin honored the practice with a Firm Achievement Award for its architecture and its contributions to the community and profession. A long list of design awards keeps McKinney York in competition with itself. “I’m hoping our notable accomplishments are ahead of us,” McKinney says.
What is the most gratifying aspect of residential practice?
When you exceed a client’s goals and create a home that instills comfort, wonder, and delight, it is worth the trials and tribulations that come with the job.
What is the most frustrating aspect?
Working with contractors who can’t or won’t rise to the occasion. Also neighborhood associations that constrain design.
What is your mission statement or firm goal?
To be a thriving organism creating beautiful, responsible architecture in a culture of collaboration and curiosity.
What is the most indispensable tool in your office?
Heather McKinney: The computer or telephone.
Al York: A red pen and Wite-Out.
What software does your firm use?
AutoCAD, Revit, InDesign, Pagemaker, SketchUp, and Photoshop.
Who is your ideal client?
The one who asks us to do something that we’ve not tackled before.
What is your favorite building?
HM: Kimbell Art Museum.
AY: Borromini’s San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane. Michelle Rossomando: Flatiron Building.
If you didn’t have time to design your own house, who would you hire?
Max Levy, Miller Hull, or Frank Harmon.