Building commenced on El Camino High School in 1961 and the school opened in 1962. From its construction using a combination of glass, steel, and concrete to its purposeful integration of interior and exterior space, El Camino High School is thoroughly modern in its design. The campus consists of ten buildings positioned around a central open courtyard. Viewed from the street, the school’s focal point is the gymnasium with its stone façade and stacked zig-zag roofline.
A grand concrete staircase leads to a covered walkway, flanked by outdoor seating areas and landscaped gardens. Classroom buildings radiate from this central artery, the stairs directing visitors to the school’s crowning centerpiece – its gymnasium. The El Camino High School gymnasium, with its unique roofline, can be seen from miles away. Up close, it is even more spectacular, with a cantilevered deck extending off the side of the building and triangular clerestory windows peeking out from each peak.
The San Francisco Bay Area saw the construction of hundreds of schools in the decades following World War II. Of the schools from that period which are still in existence, few remain unaltered, true to their original design. With the exception of multi-colored panels (similar in appearance to the former Jack Tar Hotel in San Francisco), which have since been painted over, the school remains remarkably intact. El Camino High School is an excellent local example of postwar school architecture.