Opus masterplanned a campus improvement plan for Saint Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights, Minn.

With a desire to create a more comfortable environment that inspires learning and collaboration among students, faculty and staff, Saint Thomas Academy has set out on a multiphase, masterplanned renovation of its Mendota Heights, Minn., campus. The Academy selected Opus to complete the masterplan and the first phase of construction work.

Phase I: Summer Splash 2021

Built in 1965, the iconic Founders Hall at Saint Thomas Academy underwent a major transformation in just 59 days, a monumental accomplishment made possible due to Opus' integrated design-build capabilities. It was the 14th project Opus has completed for the all-male, college-prep, military leadership school in Mendota Heights, Minn.

The first phase of the multi-year campus improvement plan, the project was dubbed Summer Splash 2021 by the school because the entire project took place while the students were on summer break. It included 34,000 square feet of renovations to Founders Hall, which is the original building on the 88-acre campus, as well as adjacent spaces.

Within Founders Hall, classrooms and offices surrounding the building's central indoor court were reconfigured and designed to create a more collegiate environment. Glass-front walls on new offices and four classrooms on both the upper and lower levels allow more natural light to filter into the central court while providing visibility to classrooms. Flexible furnishings in the classrooms accommodate individual or group study and a new elevator makes the two-story building accessible for the first time. The original HVAC system was replaced for improved comfort and air quality, which also freed up floor space for expanding the classrooms and offices. 

This renovation facilitated the creation of the school's Institute for Science and Engineering by creating new physics and biology classrooms adjacent to the Academy's Innovation Center​, which built by Opus in 2017.

In front of Founders Hall, the existing circle drive and parking area were converted into a green space that is used for daily cadet formation, events, classes and outdoor dining.

Because Saint Thomas Academy is a private Catholic school, it relies on fundraising to underwrite capital improvement projects, including Summer Splash 2021. Delivering this project on budget was as critical as completing it prior to starting the school year.

Saint Thomas Academy has plans for further renovations during upcoming summers.​