The Skins Group Bio
The Skins Group has been established to provide full service facade design team specializing in thermal modeling, moisture/condensation analysis, in-depth detailing and more. The Skins Group is a division of Studio NYL, a leading structural engineering firm known for its progressive approach to designing architectural structures. The Skins Group works closely with contractors, architects and building design teams around the world, and is often sought out by facade consultants and architects needing assistance with challenging systems. While Studio NYL has focused on structural design and the constructability of skin and facade systems since it's founding in 2004, the Skins Group was developed to build on this and respond to client demand for a higher level of offerings. To this end, the Skins Group empowers architects to push the boundaries of design through the proactive integration of structural and building science services.
The collaboration of engineers and architects on the Skins Group team merges structural, architectural and building sciences, with a focus on cutting edge systems. Founding principal Chris O'Hara states, "Because building skins generally deliver more than aesthetics, or the visual appearance of a structure's exterior implied by the term 'facade,' we chose to name our division the 'Skins Group'. Today, modern skin- or enclosure-technology is as much about performance as appearance. Building skins provide proactive controls against the environment—as in thermal comfort, moisture control, sun penetration, etc.—just as human skin serves as a filter to the external environment, monitoring temperature and controlling moisture."
Prior to co-founding Studio NYL, O'Hara worked for a number of the world's pre-eminent facade designers. While working with Malcolm G. McLaren, founder of the New York-based McLaren Engineering Group early in his career, he was responsible for designing many of the Pilkington Planar systems installed in the US. through W&W Glass. The opportunity to work on design-build teams responsible for some of the most intricate enclosure systems in the US—most notably the Rose Center for Earth and Space designed by Polshek Partners (now Ennead) in New York—gave him a unique perspective into available technologies and the rigor required to construct such elegant systems. As the first American hired by London-based
Dewhurst Macfarlane and Partners to help open their New York office, O'Hara transitioned from a design-build mode to a design-focused team where he began working directly for the architect. While working under Tim Macfarlane, one of the pioneers of the structural glass world, O'Hara honed his skills for balancing his contractor roots with the needs and visions of architects. Notable skins projects he worked on during that time, included Rafael Vinoly's Kimmel Center for the Arts in Philadelphia, and Vinoly's David L Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh.
Although Studio NYL is recognized for its skins work with cutting edge glass and glazing, their team also specializes in digitally fabricated metal skins and facades, GFRC, reinforced polymers, stone, ultra high performance concrete, fabrics, terra cotta and traditional precast—using multiple modeling and analysis software platforms like REVIT, Rhino, Grasshopper, ROBOT, THERM, WINDOW and WUFI. The firm believes it does its best work when designing the building and skin together. This allows the facade to be integrated with the building systems, which accomplishes greater efficiencies and more elegant design details throughout.
To date, the firm has completed more than 50 skin and building enclosure projects in the United States and Mexico. Their most notable Colorado-based skin or facade projects include: the Lindsey Flanigan Courthouse, Ralph Carr Justice Center, the School of Mines' Marquez Hall, Art House and Merchant’s Row among others. Nationally, their most visible skin projects include: a portion of HL23 (a Neil Denari project on the High Line in Manhattan), Arizona State University's Recreation Center, the Central Arizona College Library, and the Dania Store in Algonquin, IL. International facade projects include the Liverpool Interlomas Flagship in Mexico City, Liverpool Angelopolis, and Cineteca Nacional (all in Mexico). Studio NYL has also designed skins on projects by the following international architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop (Paris, Genoa, New York City), Rojkind Arquitectos (Mexico City), Gensler (USA), Fentress Architects (Denver, CO), Neil Denari (Los Angeles, CA), Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (Wilkes-Barre, PA), Perkins+Will (USA), Architekton (Tempe, AZ), Javier Sanchez Architects (Mexico City), and the Smith Group JJR (USA).
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