Interior design students tour Kent State Hotel and Conference Center


Interior design students tour construction at the Kent State Hotel and Conference Center. Photo by Kirsten Bowers.

Kirsten Bowers

Sophomores Katerina Fantozzi and Brianna Scarmack were the first students to arrive for their interior design class’ tour of the Kent State Hotel and Conference Center.

The duo walked over to their studio lecture professor, Terrence Uber, who was waiting with his trunk open. He handed each of the girls a white hardhat.

“You wouldn’t happen to have a pink one would you?” Scarmack said.

As the rest of the second-year interior design students arrived, pictures were taken and the anticipation for the tour of the new Kent State Hotel and Conference Center built.

Uber said the field trip was meant to familiarize interior design students with the construction process of a building, rather than just the finished product.

“The purpose is to … be able to observe the underlying construction of a building,” Uber said in an email. “…This helps the students understand what is behind the walls so they can make more informed design decisions about the interiors when they are designing them.”

Karen Durepo, the construction project’s manager, approached the group and handed out clear safety glasses and a packet of floor plans.

“I think it’s pretty cool to see it all come together and how it works,” said Angela Babbo, sophomore interior design major. “Seeing the construction documents and how you have to start from that and actually seeing a finished product. It’s cool to see it in real scale.”

Students and professors followed Durepo, who led the group through rocks and loose dirt, with construction happening on either side of them. The group stepped up onto the concrete slab that would soon be the floor of the new building.

The ceiling was coated with spray-on fire protection coating and exposed pipes lined the ceiling and stuck out of the ground. On a wall to the left of the group, Durepo pointed to two large holes in the concrete wall and said that was where the elevators would go.

“It’s a lot about cosmetics being put together. The electrical, the plumbing, like the elevator shafts, I never knew they went all the way down,” said Emily Martin, sophomore interior design major. “I thought they stopped at the first floor.”

The tour moved through the rest of the first floor. Students dodged falling water that was being sprayed by a construction worker on the floors above.

Around the back of the building, students were able to see the exterior mock-up of the building, which Durepo said is to make sure everyone likes the materials that were picked.

The group then walked back inside and up a set of stairs onto the second floor. They walked through a maze of wooden beams into the Presidential Suite.

“It’s cool how just by looking at the wood frames, you can see where everything’s going to be laid out,” said Scarmack. “You can see there’s a shower here, a bathroom.”

Robin Rockney, freshman interior design major, went out to the terrace and leaned over the wire railing that lined the edge of the balcony to get a better look.

“It’s a lot different from the outside,” Rockney said. “It’s nice to see both points of view.”

Inside the Presidential Suite, Uber pointed out a wall that had big blocks of wood with a big metal bracket in the center of it.

“That’s what you have to do on a wall in order to mount a large screen TV,” Uber said. “That’s something [the students] wouldn’t have thought about if they hadn’t seen it that way. You put a few screws in, put the TV on it, but if the wall isn’t built right underneath, everything’s just going to fall down.”

After an hour-long tour of the new building, Durepo escorted students and professors back out of the building. Junior interior design major Tamara Hehmeyer said she found the experience “very informative.”

“We built a model of a college, and I felt like I was standing in my model,” Hehmeyer said.

The Design Studio II students will return to the Kent State Hotel and Conference Center in the spring semester as part of their Building Systems course to see how it has changed.

Contact Kirsten Bowers at [email protected].