Local business donates desks to architecture department

Kirsten Bowers

Miracle on Main Street, a local office supply and furniture store, donated money to replace 46-year-old drafting desks at Kent State’s College of Architecture and Environmental Design in August.

“I felt like I needed to give something back to Kent State University,” said Alex Piteo, president and owner of M.O.M.S. 200 new drafting desks are now in use in the Taylor Hall studio.

Piteo, whose company has been donating to the university since the early 1990s, said he wanted to help out a university that has supported local businesses in Kent.

Piteo came to campus and went on a tour of Taylor Hall, a building that houses one of three Kent State architecture studios, with an advancement officer and Douglas Steidl, the dean of architecture and environmental design. After donating a sofa and a table in one area and a workstation in another, Piteo said he wanted M.O.M.S. to provide something more significant.

“We walked through the school, and he saw some new desks in the graduate area,” Steidl said. “We had mentioned that we needed new desks in the rest of the fourth floor, and he volunteered immediately to participate in that.”

“I thought to myself, this is exactly what I need to do,” Piteo said about when he first saw the desks. “I decided this is perfect — I can help them make something that is exactly what they want.”

M.O.M.S. gifted a monetary donation, but it didn’t cover the total cost of the materials for the new desks. After being approached about increasing the amount of its donation, M.O.M.S. agreed to donate more money. Steidl said M.O.M.S. covered half of the costs and the college covered the rest.

“It was a matter of what the scope of what needed to get done and how much I could help them reach that accomplishment,” Piteo said. “I stepped a little bit more than I planned on and I felt good about doing that.”

In addition to covering half the costs of the desks, M.O.M.S. also helped assemble them. Piteo and five of his employees volunteered six hours of their time, Piteo said.

The new graphing desks replace ones from 1966, which Steidl said were “beat up and cut up.”

After M.O.M.S. made its initial pledge, interim assistant Dean of Architecture and Environment Design Jonathan Fleming assumed coordination of the project, Steidl said.

Fleming said in a statement that he chose this particular design because of its versatility, and that it reduced the cost per unit.

Some students, such as sophomore interior design major Meredith Kaltenecker, said they prefer the old desks because they were adjustable.

“Fewer moving parts means less opportunity for a mechanical failure,” Fleming said.

Other students are just happy to have a smooth work surface.

“When drawing, if there’s a scratch it will make a blip in your line,” said freshman Cara Kashmer when talking about old drafting desks. “It will make it darker.”

Despite mixed emotions about the design of the tables, Steidl said the College of Architecture and Environmental Design is happy with the new addition.

“We’re really grateful,” Steidl said. “First of all, [M.O.M.S.] came looking; it was their initiative, they volunteered, they gave us the monetary donation and then they assisted us in the fabrication.”

Piteo said it was his way of thanking the university for helping local businesses.

“This was our way of demonstrating, in a small way, how important Kent State is in supporting local businesses, and we’re thankful for that,” Piteo said. “The strength of our town-grown relationship is the function of both of us supporting each other when we can.”

Contact Kirsten Bowers at [email protected].