The firm’s heritage director on the pleasure he derives from working on some of the UK’s finest historical buildings, the importance of asking questions and the benefit of hindsight 

Andrey Williams Portrait

Andy Williams is heritage director at Quinn London

Why did you choose construction as a career?

When you are 16, you are never 100% sure about what you want to do. My nan always said, “get a trade behind you and then you can always fall back if other opportunities in life never work out”. So I did my carpentry and joinery apprenticeship and then worked up through the various ranks of management.

Every day is different and never boring when you are working on historical buildings that are all unique.

What are you most proud of in your career to date?

Starting up the Quinn London heritage division in 2015. I feel very privileged to be involved in working on historical building projects including: Gunnersbury Park restoration, Pitzhanger Manor, the Museum of the Home, Leighton House Museum, Orleans House Museum, several projects in the V&A and now the British Museum. 

What has been the biggest challenge of your career to date?

Finding good people who care and want to deliver quality projects on time as the business grows. 

If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

Stop amendments to contracts and leave them as standard.

What is the most helpful advice that you have been given?

Never be afraid to ask a question, however difficult they may be.

Name your favourite building in the world?

To be honest I don’t have a favourite as there are so many famous buildings in the world. But, if I had to choose one, it would be La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

The Colosseum Rome

Source: Shutterstock

The Colosseum in Rome, the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built and still standing almost 2,000 years after construction started

Which famous building do you most dislike?

I am not a big fan of concrete buildings. 

Which famous building do you wish you had worked on?

The Colosseum in Rome.

What single piece of advice would you give to someone starting out in your profession?

Never stop asking questions, listen to others, but always stay true to your self belief.

Who do you most admire in the construction industry?

The industry continues to evolve by utilising modern and old methods. I admire and enjoy working with those individuals that see the benefits of restoring old buildings with this in mind.

What is it like being you (and doing your job)?

Every day is different. I feel very privileged to be involved in heritage projects, but they do come with their own challenges.

Do you have a life philosophy?

Never give up – and be happy in what you do.

Raphael Gallery V&A

The Raphael Gallery at the V&A, containing the seven Raphael cartoons, dating back to 1516. Quinn London’s work involved a range of architectural, structural, mechanical, electrical and lighting upgrades.

What do you think your best quality is?

I care about what I do and don’t like letting people down.

What trait do you most dislike in yourself?

I’m too hands on – and then clients rely solely on me.

And in other people?

Those who don’t care or take ownership of their responsibilities. 

Name three things that you like

Family life; rowing (I have rowed around the Isle of Wight with my three  brothers while my daughter steered the coastal boat); and always being up for a sporting challenge. 

Tell us about a secret skill that we don’t know you have

Remembering facts at work, when questioning my team.

What is your most prized possession?

I have a costal rowing scull which I restored.

Early bird or night owl?

Early bird but, when needed, I can be a night owl too.

What is your favourite food?

Steak and chips, although I also have a sweet tooth. 

What would your superpower be?