The Art of Renovation

1:02 pm

For six months now the Spencer Museum has been home to a special group of visiting artists. Architects, tradesmen, and construction workers are steadily using their skills to transform the Museum’s spaces. On the ground leading this transformation is Fernando Velilla, Superintendent for MarLan Construction.

As superintendent, Velilla monitors the safety and progress of construction work and communicates among workers, Spencer staff, and other stakeholders to keep the project on schedule. On an average day, Velilla oversees 40 workers.

“My primary duty is to take the design team’s idea and help make it a physical reality,” Velilla said.

Velilla said he has always been fascinated with construction processes and all the parts that come together when creating modern structures. He said several aspects of the Spencer’s renovation, such as the new windows on the east and west sides of the building, make it a challenging project, but with great rewards in store. Many aspects of the project include what Velilla describes as “hidden detail and understated elegance.” That elegance will come, in part, from the work of Velilla and his crew.

“Architects design the building, but there is an artistic touch to how it comes together. We have to be creative every day in making decisions that tie all parts of the building together to achieve the design,” he said.

Artistic creation is also a part of Velilla’s life outside the construction site. His work trailer outside the Spencer Museum is filled with his own drawings of wildlife, along with some completed taxidermy displays. Velilla said he enjoys drawing and working with his hands as a fun and therapeutic exercise, something that became instilled in him as a child when attending art classes at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City.

For now, the Spencer is lucky to have Velilla’s artistic eye and expertise involved with Phase I renovation. More than anyone, Velilla said he can’t wait to see the finished product.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to help revitalize a great place for the community,” he said. “It’s very rewarding to know the reason something looks good is because you thought out every detail and made it come together.”