New Helms Middle School

New Helms Middle School


A new middle school campus was constructed in the City of San Pablo to replace the former 1949 middle school. The new campus includes three two-story classroom buildings, administration offices, library, gymnasium complex, multipurpose/ cafeteria building, and a “community project” building. New fields were constructed on the site of the former school buildings as a separate project after students were moved into the new school. The new Helms Middle School fits into the urban context of the community, including Mission style cement tile roofing, which corresponds to the theme of the City of San Pablo. The public section is sited along Road 20 adjacent to the play fields with the multi-purpose building located at the corner of the site and visible as you approach the school from the east along El Portal Drive.

Seismically safe, state-of-the-art buildings replaced all of the former school buildings. All utilities (electrical, plumbing, mechanical, fire alarm, data, phone, and security systems) were upgraded to meet contemporary and future technology challenges. The site is organized into public and academic zones, and is fully accessible. The main entry of the school includes a public plaza and is located adjacent to the administration and multi-purpose building. A covered veranda along the main quad connects administration, community/after school programs, library, and gymnasium, and a covered patio provides access to the school’s multipurpose/performing arts/café and music room.

The academic section of the new school contains three identical two-story buildings located along San Pablo Creek on the quiet side of the site. They each include an open courtyard that leads to the school’s main quad which is shared by the entire school, allowing each building to become a small school or academy and form its own community.

“We hope that the kids, feeling more secure and motivated, will try harder.” – Helms Middle School parent

  • Address: 2500 Road 20
  • City: San Pablo, CA
  • Client: West Contra Costa Unified School District
  • Photo Credits: Rien van Rijthoven
  • Links to media publications: Richmond Confidential, SF Gate