Nathan Derks employee spotlight photo and graphic

Employee Spotlight – Nathan Derks

Nathan is a project specialist who is currently working on the Whitefish Bay library renovation, Westby School District, New Glarus School District, and Columbus School District projects.

Columbus is a particularly special project for Nathan because he’s been with it from conception into construction. Shortly after he joined Bray in 2017, Nathan worked with the team to prepare a facility study on the district’s original building. He attended the community meetings and saw firsthand how the project’s stakeholders participate in the planning and design process. “It’s fun to see people engage in the entire process and not just with the end product,” he says.

After the referendum to fund the Columbus project passed in 2019, Nathan started working on the construction documents. He now helps the team with construction administration, where he answers the contractors’ questions and solves any unforeseen issues that arise during this phase. “I get to see the whole project, which is really rewarding,” he says. The new school is scheduled to be complete in August 2022.

Nathan enjoys working on educational buildings because he knows his work is making a difference in the communities that the schools serve. “People get excited about schools,” he says. “They want to use these spaces. It’s a place of learning and growth.” Nathan is also inspired by seeing the transformation of old to new in renovation projects. “Every building has great aspects, you just need to find those and highlight them,” he says.

When Nathan isn’t at work, he enjoys hanging out with friends. A lot of his college classmates have stayed in the area, and they get together often for trivia nights, volleyball, and golf. Spending time with friends is also a welcome break from studying for the Architectural Registration Exams, a series of six tests that all aspiring architects must pass to be licensed. But Nathan has an optimistic view on studying. “Instead of seeing it as a list of things I need to memorize, I see the tests as a list of items to learn for my profession,” he says. “They’re going to help me become a better architect.”