reading wheel 96

Reading wheel

reading wheel 96Situated in the Center for Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing’s atrium is a Reading Wheel that underscores the theme of the new building. As much art as it is machinery, the prototype was designed in 1985 by award-winning architect Daniel Libeskind, who in 2003 won the competition to be the master plan architect for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center site.

The design was based on a reading wheel built by Agostino Ramelli in 1588. The instrument was designed to allow scholars to peruse several tomes at once, without losing their place.

In 2008, Libeskind commissioned Holland Industries of Huntingburg to bring his design to life for a client and a potential distributor. Using Libeskind’s design, they built the desk from solid maple and then traveled to New York to present it to Libeskind.

Libeskind was immediately impressed with the fine piece and scheduled a meeting with a group interested in distributing the desk. Unfortunately, as these things sometimes go, two days before the meeting was to occur in Baltimore, it was inexplicably canceled.

Al Johnson
VUJC Dean Al Johnson with the desk. <i>Photo by Eric Tretter</i>

The meeting never took place and the beautiful piece of art and craftsmanship built by Holland Industries was brought back to the company’s headquarters.

According to Steve Collett, one of the owners of the now closed company, the piece was something Holland Industries was very proud to have manufactured.

The company was started in 1945 by Collett’s father, A.M. Collett, and three employees in a little tack and harness shop in Holland. In 2009 the Holland Industries closed its doors but the desk remained in Collett’s possession until a connection was made with VUJC concerning the university’s newest endeavor, the Center for Technology, Innovation and Manufacturing.

That connection came from Collett’s wife, Sheila, the Department Chair of Business and Technology at the Jasper Campus, who recommended the desk be donated for use in the impressive and beautiful new building. For Steve, the connection made sense and the desk was donated to the new facility.

“Of all the things we ever made,” Collett said, “this was something we were really proud of. This was built by true craftsmen. We had a lot of fun building it. I wish we could have seen what it could have been if it had got to market.”

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