Established in 1947 as a small school for boys, St. Edmund’s Academy is a private, co-ed day school for preschool through eighth grade located within the city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

With a growing student population and commitment to project-based learning, the school recently initiated a building expansion project, spearheaded by St. Edmund’s Director of Finance and Operations Diana McAllister and Director of Advancement Meghan Bollens.

St. Edmund’s Academy

Pittsburgh, PA
Project scope:
12,000 square feet
Karndean 20mil Opus gluedown

The first phase of the project was the addition of a Center for Integrated Discovery (CID), a space that emphasizes the interconnectedness of children’s learning—physical, emotional, intellectual, aesthetic. The CID includes a renovated physical education space, art and music creative spaces, and the Engineering & Design lab, a project-based learning lab and student lounge space.

“As an expansion of our older, historic school building, we wanted these spaces to feel modern and bright, sparking joy and creativity,” McAllister said.

In addition to the establishment of the CID, a secondary phase of the project included replacing the flooring in the school’s historic building to create continuity from one space to the next and refresh classrooms that were not part of the renovation.

“Our classrooms previously had carpet and the hallways had VCT flooring,” McAllister said. “For these spaces, brighter more modern colors were a priority to give the space new life.”

From a functional standpoint, durability was a key consideration in selecting new flooring due to heavy foot traffic, rolling backpacks and frequently moving desks and chairs.

“Because of the hands-on learning in these spaces, durable flooring that could withstand the wear and tear of students who are constantly moving, collaborating and creating was the main priority,” McAllister noted. “It was also really important that the floor was easy to clean. With 350 students and adults moving through our school, messes happen.”

Through collaboration with local interior designers, the school selected three colors of Karndean’s 20mil Opus gluedown collection: Niveus WP411, Magna WP413 and Argen WP414.

Each color complemented the school’s existing color palette. Niveus has a subtle limed effect and distinctive grain pattern defined by its cooler highlights; Magna has a weathered design in cool mid-brown tones; and charcoal colored Argen is accented with striking silver highlights.

“Karndean offers a quality product,” Bollens said. “As a nonprofit organization with limited capital resources, we needed a product that would wear well and remain new for an extended period of time. Ease in cleaning was also a consideration given our fixed facility resources.”

With the expansion now completed, McAllister and Bollens have begun to receive positive feedback about the Karndean flooring, especially from teachers and students.

“The teachers who work daily in these spaces are thrilled with the modern aesthetic and cleanliness of the product,” Bollens said. “They are glad to have moved away from carpeting which they felt collected dust and germs. When our students returned from summer break, they noticed the new floors in their classroom and were so excited. One student remarked: ‘My teacher must have been busy this summer! She got new floors!’”