The future keeps getting brighter for Jay Wratten, leader of WSP USA's lighting design studio in Boulder, Colorado, who was recently recognized by Lighting Magazine on its first 40-Under-40 list for North American lighting professionals.
“It is certainly an honor to be in the 40-under-40 list, and inspiring to be included with such a great selection of designers,” Wratten said.
The awards were presented at a March 12 ceremony in New York City.
Wratten, a vice president in the Boulder, Colorado office, leads all phases of a project, from schematic design to construction administration, including design and project management. He is a registered lighting certified professional and has extensive knowledge of lighting control systems and daylight harvesting as well as experience in solid state lighting performance.
Wratten is responsible for the lighting design on athletic facilities, aviation, academic, commercial, custom fixture design, exhibit, historic, residential, retail, tenant improvement and transportation projects. His projects include:
“Eleven years into my role at WSP, I continue to enjoy working for a global consulting engineering firm that has allowed me to continuously challenge myself by taking on larger projects and larger responsibilities,” Wratten said. “It pushes me consider how lighting best fits into the large interdisciplinary delivery process, and gives me the freedom develop my specific passions within the larger 'lighting' umbrella.”
Raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Wratten graduated from the University of Kansas with an architectural engineering degree. While his journey as a lighting designer started with an introductory university course on lighting, he said it was a natural evolution of things that had interested him since childhood.
“In junior high school, I built a battery-powered goose neck reading light for a science fair project, and in high school, I simultaneously took engineering drawing and woodworking, Wratten said. “The balance of art and science in my life has been a constant, which lighting naturally fills.”
Wratten moved to Boulder in 2011 after spending several years in WSP’s San Francisco office. It was a change that added an educational facet to his career, first as a mentor for lighting students at the University of Colorado and in 2016 as an adjunct instructor for a lighting design course.
“Helping students develop their own relationships with lighting has been both rewarding and educational,” Wratten said. “I find that my educational work has been instrumental in maintaining my passion for pure design, and the innocence with which students approach design provides me with a source of inspiration in my career.”
He is a member of several industry organizations, including the Illuminating Engineering Society and the Next Generation Luminaire Competition. In 2016 he was selected for Consulting-Specifying Engineer’s 40 Under 40 list.
Wratten’s interest art and science has found a new passion in the emergence of “smart” buildings and cities.
“I'm excited to be a part of WSP’s BOLD&R Innovation Center that is developing a user-focused design approach to integrated building technology,” he said. “Using data analytics and creating an enhanced user experience through responsive and adaptive controls is incredibly interesting to me. By collaborating with my colleague and clients, I'm enjoying a broadening in both my education and my perspective relative to the role lighting can play in the future.”
Wratten is now embarking on a new mission: sports market leader for WSP USA.
“While I will continue to lead WSP's Boulder lighting studio, my new role as sports market leader will include multidisciplinary strategy and delivery of sports projects for the firm,” he said.
He looks forward to leading WSP’s pursuit of landmark sports projects, where the firm’s engineering and design contributions will enhance the fan experience at these venues.
“As I transition into my new role, I look forward to the next chapter in my journey as a lighting designer and will be doing my part helping the lighting profession navigate our crucial role in an increasingly digital world.”