Gill achieved his greatest prominence in the San Diego area. A measure of his social and professional standing is revealed in the number of significant public projects that civic and business leaders commissioned from him, including schools, churches, and cultural buildings.
In the Woman’s Club, the La Jolla Playground Community House, and here in the Bishop’s School, Gill used an arcaded screen wall as a unifying element, and to articulate his austere geometry with rhythmic voids.
Gill adapted his architectural language for residences to larger, public buildings. Several buildings of this period retain the flat surface of his residences: the Holly Sefton hospital, the Scripps Biological Station. In the Bishop’s School for Girls, the La Jolla Woman’s Club and the Scripps Playground, however, Gill employed a long screen wall punctuated with a regular rhythm of arches to evoke a community united by a common spiritual and intellectual purpose.
Bishop Johnson lived in Pasadena and the Episcopal Church originally planned to build a preparatory school in Sierra Madre. When Ellen Scripps and her sister Elizabeth Virginia Scripps offered to be benefactors, the decision was made to build a day school in San Diego and a boarding school in La Jolla. Ellen recommended Irving Gill for both projects, pleased with his work on the Scripps Biological Station, 1908.