Studio NYL Structural Engineers is no longer the new kid on the block in regional, national or international design markets. The Boulder, Colo., engineering firm, founded in 2004 by principals Chris O'Hara and Julian Lineham, has pushed the boundaries of structural design, tackling new project types and geography that have made it one of the most sought-after structural designers in the region.
Recent work illustrates the firm's diversity: devising a stainless-steel skeleton to fit within the body of a skier in "The Skier's Edge," a bronze sculpture erected at the base of a Vail, Colo., ski resort; design of heavy-timber, glulam and clear-glass stairs at two upscale houses in Aspen, Colo.; the retractable bridge that cantilevered out from the stage above the audience in the Rolling Stones' "Bridges to Babylon" tour; the structural components for the Twister ride at Universal Studios Florida theme park in Orlando; and schematic design for a "floating island" in the Mur River in Graz, Austria, as part of a cultural exhibit designed by artist Vito Acconci.
Other international examples of Studio NYL's portfolio include spectacular structural work at the Cineteca National Film Center in Mexico City for Rojkind Arquitectos and the Liverpool Flagship Store in Interlomas, Mexico, for the same architect. Studio NYL has also done work in New York, the United Kingdom, China and South America. But the bulk of the firm's work, O'Hara says, is still in Colorado, comprising about 70% of its total portfolio.
"Early on, a lot of people were waiting to see if we were for real, for us to prove our credibility. That has changed quite a bit," he says.
Most of that portfolio is grounded in more conventional design arenas such renovations, mixed-use, educational facilities, institutional buildings and custom residences. O'Hara and Lineham are directly involved in every project the firm takes on.
Blake Mourer, a principal with Denver's Open Studio Architecture, says of Studio NYL: "They're designers, not just engineers. They're design thinkers. Engineering is just their craft." Mourer is working with the firm on the Galvanize mixed-use buildings in Denver.
Chris Ridings, a partner with Poss Architecture + Planning, Aspen, credits the Studio NYL team for achieving "some amazing gymnastics" in creating 24-ft-tall windows on a custom home in Aspen. "The client wanted to maximize his views, and they delivered a design that did that."
Lineham says that some of Studio NYL's renovation work is its most difficult, like the multiphased upgrades to the Lory Center on the Colorado State University campus in Fort Collins. Working with architects Perkins+Will and Aller-Lingle-Massey Architects, Studio NYL remodeled the center's theater using an innovative carbon-fiber reinforcement of the existing structure.
Studio NYL also helped design the soaring main entry and lobby of the new 87,000-sq-ft Marquez Hall on the Colorado School of Mines campus in Golden.
"We love architecture," O'Hara says. "We have a fondness for good design, and we want to partner with the best designers out there."