Bringing Healthy Design to WSP USA Lighting Projects

Health and wellness has emerged as a vital design priority for WSP USA clients.

Since the International Well Building Institute introduced its WELL standard, creating healthy spaces to live and work has prominently factored into lighting and lighting controls design.

“There is a greater understanding that buildings need to serve their occupants better,” said Richard Spry, studio lead in the Seattle office. “WSP’s lighting group has positioned itself as prioritizing people, and placing their practical and aesthetic objectives at the forefront of our design strategies.”

The firm has also made it a priority to keep up with rapidly changing technology and understanding the impact of the internet of things (IoT)— the term used for the interconnection of computing devices embedded into everyday objects, which are capable of transferring data over a network without human interaction.

“WSP has been at the forefront of systems design for the internet of things, and specifically how lighting serves the infrastructural needs of the IoT, as well as how lighting can benefit from the explosion of data,” Spry said. “Our firm has a rigorous understanding of current technologies, and an informed sense of what the future holds.”

He added that LED light sources and lighting controls have forged tremendous energy use and cost savings.



Richard Spry is working on the completion of the lighting design for 2+U, an office tower under construction in Seattle.

Holistic Approach

Bridging creativity and flair in his lighting design projects has been Spry’s hallmark over the past two decades.

Spry joined the WSP lighting team in September 2017, providing the design team with inspiration, guidance and oversight through his passion about exploring ways in which light affects people and the built environment.

Richard Spry“Increasingly we think of lighting in terms of systems, including the controls that define functionality for energy savings and for the health and wellness of building occupants,” Spry said. “Ensuring that those systems truly serve the needs of the client and the people who actually inhabit the space is a fascinating preoccupation of mine.”

Spry has worked on projects across the U.S. and around the globe—including nearly two dozen projects in Dubai. These opportunities allowed him to acquire a holistic understanding of the full range of expertise required to design lighting and controls systems, to assess a system’s constructability, and to ensure the system will successfully function within the context of the overall project.

One of his current projects for WSP is the completion of 2+U, a prominent 38-story office tower under construction in Seattle. WSP is providing the lighting design, as well as the mechanical-electrical-plumbing engineering for the 587-foot tower with 683,000 square feet of office space, which is scheduled for completion next year.

Light Poetry

Originally from London, Spry graduated from the Bartlett School of Architecture at University College in London with a master’s degree in built environment, light and lighting. Previously, he earned a degree in English language and literature, but developed an interest in lighting design after reading Light in Japanese Architecture, by Henry Plummer. “His book inspired me to consider the poetic and sensual qualities of what our profession can deliver,” he said.

A member of the Illuminating Engineers Society (IES) and a board member for the Puget Sound Section of IES, he has earned several awards for his lighting work, including five IES International Illumination Design Awards, and the 2010 Palme Award for Best Use of Lighting in the hospitality and leisure category for the One&Only Royal Mirage Palm hotel in Dubai.

Outside the office, Spry is a board member with Street Yoga, a non-profit organization that promotes yoga and mindfulness as therapeutic tools for youths who have suffered trauma.

“Young people from all walks of life—particularly those from underprivileged backgrounds—deserve respite from what haunts them,” he said. “Once you are aware of the scale of suffering in our society, it’s impossible to turn away.”

Throughout his career, Spry has established successful working relationships within disparate teams and has distinguished himself as a collaborator in the design of high quality projects, from product design and manufacture through design, project management, construction and post-construction.

He said the greatest satisfaction is when a client experiences the finished product and discovers that the reality matches the vision.

“I once worked with a client representative who was rather taciturn and demanding throughout the design process; so when he saw the final result and replied, ‘It looks just like the concept rendering,’ we knew that we had realized his expectations,” Spry said.

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