Hackney was born in Siler City NC and graduated in Architectural Engineering from NC State University in 1927. He came to Durham as part of the architecture and engineering staff working on Duke's West Campus. Upon completion at Duke, he started a firm focused on high end residences via his connections to prominent Durham families as the Dukes, Biddles, Teers, and Kenans. The firm grew and Hackney offered partnership to former intern Charles Knott. During WWII, Hackney taught structural engineering at Duke and designed Duke's Rose Bowl float the year it was played in Durham during WWII.