Let’s be honest. Out of all the finish materials that go into a school, the most performance is expected out of flooring. It has to hold up to high foot traffic, but be easy to maintain. It needs to be beautiful, even reflecting a school’s branding, and stain resistant, which is a challenge given that even middle schoolers now drink coffee. On top of this, the product must be affordable. All of these concerns make it difficult to select flooring among the ever changing options.
The design professionals at BVH constantly research flooring options and take many factors into consideration when recommending the best flooring type for a new school or renovation project: durability, maintenance, design options, sustainability and price. Following is not an exhaustive list of flooring options, but excellent choices to keep in mind.
Many BVH projects involve historic buildings, and it doesn’t take a scientific study to recognize that terrazzo stands the test of time. Schools built over fifty years ago have terrazzo corridors that can be polished to near newness. While historic buildings used cementitious terrazzo, new installations are typically epoxy terrazzo. The epoxy products are thinner (¼ to ⅜”), can be installed over a new or existing concrete slab and polished the day after they are poured. It is possible to match the epoxy base to school colors, and create intricate designs with the metal dividers. Maintenance is easy and low-cost, involving only dusting, mopping and occasional re-sealing. The greatest deterrent to using epoxy terrazzo is the upfront cost, but over its life cycle it is an excellent investment for a school.
Rubber flooring is often reserved for stairwells, but is an excellent option for corridors as well. Tiles or rolls in a variety of color options are available. Made from a renewable resource, newly laid rubber flooring is considered sustainable and is recyclable at the end of its usefulness. It has better cushioning, slip-resistance and sound absorption than terrazzo or concrete. The maintenance protocol is simple–vacuuming, mopping and periodic auto-scrubbing, but must be done regularly to avoid a dingy appearance. Schools can expect at least 20 years of performance from rubber flooring. Like epoxy terrazzo, it is more expensive than products such as VCT or LVT but is longer lasting and better performing.
Concrete is becoming increasingly popular for corridors in modern schools. There is a misconception that it is an inexpensive, maintenance-free option, though. Polished concrete is costly due to the additional labor involved and sealed concrete requires regular re-sealing. It can cause acoustical issues, is prone to cracking and is hard under foot. Given all these ‘cons’ you may wonder why anyone opts for it. All things considered, concrete is extremely durable, is already a part of the project and requires little day-to-day maintenance. For a modern aesthetic, there are few products that match its natural beauty.
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) has become the go-to replacement for Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT). It is inexpensive and easier to maintain than VCT, given that it does not require any sealers or buffing. It is typically manufactured in planks or square tiles, so if a tile is scratched or damaged, a single tile can be replaced. Recent advances in digital printing have increased the number of patterns and colors available–even making custom options possible. The downside of the product is that it is not sustainable and has a significantly shorter lifespan. The product allows a school to get a new floor at a great price, but a plan for replacement should be considered in seven to ten years.
A newer product option for schools is Textile Composite Flooring. One example is the Kinetex brand from J & J Flooring. It is a cross between LVT and carpet–imagine carpet without any pile. The ‘pros’ for this product are considerable: durable, easy to maintain, slip-resistant, sound-absorbing and sustainable (made from plastic water bottles). It prices out similarly to LVT, but is easier to maintain. Also, it can be used in classrooms as well as corridors, giving the space seamless transitions. Because it is a newer product, the design options are somewhat limited, but that will likely change as it grows in popularity.
Whether you are starting a ground-up building project or quick renovation, BVH can help you select products that meet your goals for the space. Fortunately there are a variety of beautiful, high-performance flooring options at every price point.
Recently, The Daily Nonpareil visited Kirn Middle School in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
“‘It looks really nice. You guys have done a good job,’ Council Bluffs Superintendent Vickie Murillo told representatives from Hausmann Construction Tuesday.
Murillo and four members of the Council Bluffs Community School District Board of Education toured Kirn Middle School, currently being renovated, Tuesday with project manager Darrel Meyer and representatives from Hausmann and BVH Architecture.
Hausmann, the general contractor, has about six people on site, but there are 80 to 100 people working on the building each day, when subcontractors are included, said Pat Nordmeyer, commercial superintendent for Hausmann.”
We’re excited to share that the Nebraska Center for Advanced Professional Studies (NCAPS) is featured in the January 2020 issue of Architectural Record!
Located in rural Fairfield, Nebraska, the 40,000 sf school fuses a progressive pedagogy with an unconventional design approach to promote a culture of learning, collaboration, and mentorship.
“Walking in the school, one immediately senses a productive energy. Clusters of students, huddled around teachers or on their own, occupy the central hub, the flexible learning areas, and the bleacher-style steps that double as the school forum.”
Architectural Record is the industry’s leading authority in design.
As passionate designers who focus on learning environments, we applaud the Lincoln STEM Ecosystem (LNKSE) starting up here in our community. On November 14th, 20 non-profits who focus on a wide variety of enrichment and family programs had the opportunity to give their “reverse pitch” to business and school leaders at the Zoo School. It is amazing to see the work of these groups hitting a diverse range of learners in many authentic real-world experiences and support. We learned that UNL and SCC were recently awarded a joint $3,000,000 grant to provide disadvantaged students STEM scholarships at both institutions over the next 3 years.
Among the presenters were: YWCA, Boy Scouts, and many Community Learning Centers working hard to find mentors and people working in the field to help their students find their passions and think about future jobs. The UNL Physics Nanotechnology department has some crazy equipment they are looking for local industry partners to help them put to work (which may just tie into our Historic Preservation practice) while providing students some crazy cool experiences.
We are lucky to have a strong and innovative school system in Lincoln. LNKSE is a timely addition that BVH Architecture is proud to be a founding member of.
Learn more here:
What started life as a big-box Target store is now welcoming students through its front doors. The big-box-store-turned-school was a solution to the problem of where to house students while first Kirn Middle School and then Wilson Middle School undergo extensive renovations to their existing facilities.
Kirn Middle School students, teachers, and staff will spend the 2019-2020 school year in the building first, which features complete classrooms, music rooms, a gym, and a cafeteria. After this school year, Wilson Middle School will follow the same pattern.
Check out photos, video, and news coverage of the new space:
Photo Credit: Omaha.com
Nebraska Center for Advanced Professional Studies at Sandy Creek is unique in its design in that rather than being defined by walls, it is defined by the absence of them. The only fully enclosed classrooms are a few science and lab spaces. For this reason thoughtful furniture selection was essential to help define open spaces and create areas for activity. In order to help define and communicate intent, we created different space typologies:
Soft furnishings throughout help in acoustical control, while mobile furnishings mean you can move your seat to better see, hear, and engage with the content and peers. We used acoustical baffles wherever we could to keep the open space’s acoustics manageable, and used glare-reducing whiteboards and screens to make sure students can see presented content.
Community conversations are a wonderful way to engage and learn about a particular topic. Over the past few years, BVH has initiated multiple conversations across the region. At these, educators and designers get together with community leaders to discuss where education is headed and how we can all work together to create better learning outcomes.
A number of community leaders encouraged us to think bigger after a particularly engaging conversation at Lincoln, Nebraska’s Career Academy in the fall of 2017. We pulled together with the following community partners and held the Learn for Tomorrow event. Several screenings of the film Most Likely to Succeed were held across the city to spread the conversation and get people thinking. On April 23, 2018 we brought Jaime Casap, Google’s Education Evangelist to Lincoln’s Innovation Campus for a keynote speech (see the video below). Afterwards, a panel discussed the future of education across the region fielding questions from the audience.
Some of the key points Jamie brought up for the audience to think about were:
At the beginning of the event, we polled the audience several key questions about their thoughts on the future of education. A summary of the questions and answers generating the most feedback follows:
These poll results are very interesting knowing the audience was primarily composed of educators and administrators from PK-12 as well as higher education institutions, community and business leaders. This mirrors national conversations on the same topics.
Several change initiatives are in progress nationally and locally which give us confidence in education continuing to be the “silver bullet” Casap talks about, so long as we continue to collectively think through how to adjust education in the same way work and lifestyles are changing in today’s quickly evolving culture.
We also loaded our Facebook page up with articles, short videos and other sources that help facilitate the conversation.
What do you think the future of learning needs to look like? How can the built environment and technology adapt to the new teaching and learning methods educators are adopting today?