San Mateo High School is an iconic landmark in the San Mateo community. Originally opened in 1927, it was in need of repair in order to stay operational as a school. During the course of modernizing this historic campus, the testing and structural engineers found that two of the buildings were constructed of un-reinforced masonry. The school was immediately closed due to safety concerns because it was structurally failing.

With Studio W’s recommendation, the District decided to tear down the entire 140,000 square foot campus and replicate it in the rebuild process. Studio W worked quickly to produce design and construction documents, get the project approved through DSA and prepare it for construction. We were also able to obtain an additional $11.5 million in hardship funding from the State.

The new campus is configured in a U-shape, thereby creating an outdoor student quad with the focal point being an open amphitheater. The new buildings are constructed using a structural steel frame system with the exterior skin designed with pre-cast concrete panels and brick imbeds.

The architectural concept captures the original Tudor style architecture of the 1927 school with the recreation of the main façade, including the ‘drunken sailor’ brick pattern. As the new building wraps around the main façade, it transitions to a more contemporary architectural expression — less detail and running bond brick patterns — while being sensitive to the original Tudor style.


San Mateo Union High School District


140,000 SF


$31 million


Completed 2005


2006 American School & University (AS&U) Outstanding Educational Interiors Showcase

2005 "California Construction" Magazine - Best of California, K-12 Education Project

2004 C.A.S.H./AIACC Leroy F. Greene Design + Planning Awards - Award of Merit, Project-in-Design Category

2003 American School & University (AS&U) Outstanding Educational Design, Work-in-Progress Category

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