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ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNER BRINGS OUT BEST IN PROVO’S OLD BUILDINGS

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For Val Killian, genius is not designing what is brand new. Genius is taking what exists and putting it in a different package - preferably one that is marketable.

Killian - the architectural designer behind such noted renovation projects as Provo's Central Bank, the old Provo City Library and now the Kress Building - is quickly proving to local residents that he is a genius - or at least knows how to find it in buildings."Every building has that spark of genius," he said. "All you have to do is find it and then choose to either use it or destroy it. I think it's important to use it."

If nothing else, Killian's interest in renovating or adapting buildings - rather than tearing them down - has kept downtown Provo alive and rich in its heritage.

"His ideas have taken otherwise drab buildings and made them into very functional and useful buildings," Provo Mayor Joe Jenkins said. "He has helped create a synergy because people can see older buildings revitalized, which in turn revitalizes downtown."

While some developers may view older buildings as useless, Killian makes the renovation business profitable through his partnership with a developer and architect.

"Each partner donates his expertise. We don't have to go out and pay a contractor to do the work. It saves money and time," he said. "We have a unique arrangement."

The 42-year-old businessman is actively involved in three companies: as president of HVK and Associates for interior design and space planning; vice president of Millard Consultants in Salt Lake City, architects and land planners; and a partner in CKN Development, a commercial real estate development firm.

It is CKN Development that purchased the old library for $210,000 and now the Kress Building for $640,000. Although the Kress Building was more expensive, Killian expects it to be profitable. The building will rent for $12 a square foot.

No leases have been signed yet, but one tenant has committed. The building's exterior will be finished in the next few weeks and the lobby in a month.

Even though the building has only three floors, an elevator with four stops will be installed, for future expansion. "If it is a viable product, then we'll add that fourth floor," he said.

Killian started his business 13 years ago and has renovated everything from a car dealership to a doctor's office. He was responsible for such things as the Givan Ford remodeling project, Mullett-Hoover Jewelers, McDonald's in Spanish Fork and several condominiums in the area.

He now is involved in completing the interior design for the Provo High School commons area, McDonald's in Price, and he serves a committee member for the Utah County Courthouse renovation.

He has volunteered his expertise in designing the interior of the building, which is tentatively set to be an arts and tourism center.

"It's too bad Academy Square can't fall in the same guise," he said. "There is already funding in place for the county building and not an awful lot of renovation has to be done. It's more a manipulation of space and assignment of usage. The Academy, on the other hand, is not publicly funded."

Killian believes Brigham Young University officials made a mistake when they abandoned the structure. He admits it is cost-prohibitive to renovate, but he says it could be cost-effective if two-thirds of the buildings were torn down, leaving less square footage.

"Every building has potential no matter what condition it is in," he said. "Some may be cost-effective to unearth and others may be cost-prohibitive."

Utah County Commissioner Sid Sandberg said, "Val brings a sense of design and space and color that is contemporary but sensitive to the traditional. I think his service on the courthouse committee has helped formulate the ideas of how that building can be used."

Although Provo may not be the best place for design opportunities, Killian is happy where he is at and has found his work rewarding.

"This is something I would do even if I didn't get paid to do it," he said.