While working towards his Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University, Stanley D. Lindsey was employed by Volunteer Structures, a steel fabricator in Nashville, Tennessee. It was Volunteer Structures’ desire to start a separate company focused solely on structural engineering and who better to lead that initiative than Dr. Lindsey himself. In 1966, SDL was founded and the firm’s first project was to design a Student Union building at Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State University, now Tennessee State University.
At that time, all engineering calculations and drafting were done primarily by hand and the use of computers in design was cutting-edge. Dr. Lindsey, an outgoing structural engineer in Nashville TN saw the vast potential and value of creating efficient design calculations using computers. Due to the firm’s strong connection to Vanderbilt University, SDL was allowed access to the University’s computers. It was here that Dr. Lindsey met Jack Horner, a graduate student who was working on his thesis on developing frame analysis. In 1969 Mr. Horner joined the firm and developed several structural design programs. He is still with the firm and serves as Vice President.
Due to SDL’s work at the forefront of the computing era and strong client relations, the firm grew through the 1970’s and became known as a pioneer in the use of computers for the analysis and design of structures. In 1982, with the influence of Hospital Corporation of America’s desire for their architects and engineers to use new technology, SDL acquired an in-house computer system and became one of the first structural engineer Nashville TN firms to integrate computer aided design with drafting.
In the late 1980’s Atlanta was a quickly growing market with several architectural clients based there. Mike Regen, a field engineer at the time and now a Vice President, moved to Atlanta in 1989 to perform construction administration on various Atlanta projects establishing SDL’s Atlanta office. In 1990 Dr. Lindsey and eight additional employees from Nashville moved to Atlanta to officially open the office.
In 2002, Dr. Lindsey sold his majority stake in the company to four long-time employees and a transition of the company began in terms of personnel but not in philosophy. Dr. Lindsey moved to Savannah and became a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology teaching students in the practical art of design.
In 2014, Dr. Lindsey passed away on his horse farm in Bluffton, SC at the age of 75. Surviving are his wife, children and grandchildren. The firm maintains the essence of Dr. Lindsey’s founding ideals of vision, innovation and practicality.
SDL acquired the structural and civil engineering firm Bulla Smith Design Engineering (BSDE) located in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2017. This formalized eighteen years of collaborative professional work between SDL and BSDE and a three-decade relationship between principals of the two firms. This merger not only provides our clients with expanded resources and enhanced expertise, it also allows us to be able to deliver additional services as well as have a local presence in the Carolinas. SDL and BSDE share the same philosophy of being responsive to the client’s needs in addition to being a reliable and trusted partner – a tradition our clients are accustomed to and we look forward to continuing.
For over 50 years, SDL has continued to grow and design signature projects throughout the the United States and abroad under the leadership of four majority shareholders.