NCE/ACE Young Consultant of the Year Award 2009
Bright Light Laura
Laura Bayliss, who has been presented with the NCE/ACE Young Consultant of the Year Award, has not only demonstrated that she will make a good ambassador for the engineering and consultancy profession in the future – she is already doing it right now.
Laura Bayliss is a dynamic young lighting engineer who has appeared in the media in Manchester, where she works, promoting the role of lighting in improving public spaces and buildings. She has organised “guerrilla lighting” events to demonstrate what can be done, and has worked on projects that bring local communities together and stimulate debate about the places in which we live and work.
Bayliss took an unconventional route into engineering consultancy. After A’levels in maths, biology and art, she took a degree in fine art, but found that, but the final year, she had become more interested in working out the best way to light her art works and the spaces they were in than the art itself.
“Lighting design wasn’t taught at my university, but I became fascinated by light as an artistic medium in relation to the built environment,” she explains. “At the time of graduating I didn’t know that architectural lighting designers actually existed, but I knew I wanted to be one.”
She followed up her degree with technical lighting design courses, picking up a “young lighter of the year” award along the way for her study into the effects of light on human health, before joining multi-disciplinary consultant BDP in London. It wasn’t long before her value to the company was recognised, and she was asked to relocate to BDP’s Manchester office to build up the lighting team there.
Bayliss has enormous enthusiasm for lighting and the way it can be used both internally and externally to improve living and working environments. Equally, however, she has inspirational managerial capabilities that have enabled her to build up that team from just one person to nine full time lighting designers in just two years.
In that time she has demonstrated the value of her team’s work – and technical capabilities - to more traditional disciplines within the design process, such as structural, building services and sustainability engineers, and has built up an impressive client list that includes Grosvenor, Deloitte and Land Securities. Last year, at the age of 29, Bayliss was promoted to lighting director – the youngest in the company.
Bayliss feels that the biggest challenge facing engineers in the future is that of energy. “We will always need light on our streets and buildings, but I believe in finding the most innovative solution for delivering artificial light, as well as promoting the use of daylight,” she says. “I always keep abreast of best practice and keep up to speed with new technologies that can push our designs forward to be more creative or more sustainable.”
The judges were extremely impressed with Bayliss’ energy, drive and passion, and said: "Laura is bursting with enthusiasm both for her discipline and for engineering as a whole. She is lively and passionate about her work, and has demonstrated her aptitude for working across various sectors of the industry to drive industry forward and improve the built environment for the benefit of everyone.
“Laura left us in no doubt that she is an inspirational leader to her team and a real asset to her company, and has clearly demonstrated that she can communicate her enthusiasm to both technical and non-technical audiences, both inside the industry and out,” they added. “She is already proving herself to be a forceful ambassador for the profession."