Friday, July 11, 2008

The Sanctuary...


Up in the Bay Area(no, not the one in DCA) across the way from San Francisco, literally just down the street from Oakland lies the small, bustling town of Emeryville. Ok, as small towns go it's pretty big, but there is an intimacy there that distinguishes it from the larger surrounding cities. Now, nestled in a nice, quaint little spot of earth is the headquarters of Pixar Animation Studios.



When Steve Jobs wanted to build a new building for his growing little animation company he wanted to build a place where they could grow. A place that was full of possibilities and a place that would have room for expansion should the creativity continue to be successful. There wasn't room in the town of Richmond, California which Pixar was now located in so he scouted locations and found a nice plot of land in Emeryville that suited his purpose. Of course, he needed to demolish what was there and start over. He is a perfectionist. Once he got permission and succeeded in doing just that, he contracted an architecture firm to design this new haven, this sactuary for Creatives. One of the early things he wanted for his hundreds of employees was to have only one bathroom.

Only one. You can imagine what the architects thought, but those that know Steve know he's always been quite egalitarian about things. Over a period of time they were able to persuade him to change his mind on this. Instead of putting that bathroom out around the center area of the building like he wanted, they proposed putting a series of other things there that would draw the animators and artist together. For what may have been a rare occasion they actually got him to change his mind. He worked on the design for months until he was satisfied and then the construction started.



When the dust settled, what remained was a large two-story brick building occupying 220,000 square feet that looked like a piece of the past(1920's) that had been propped up and restored with 21st century technology. The place would be an animator's dream. And a kid's dream too... there are hiding places, a store that has every kind of cereal known to man for free, a mail office, screening theaters and even a secret bar hidden behind an animator's room. The outside has a pool, tennis court, soccer field and lush green areas for relaxing and reflecting. And there's room for an expansion that Pixar has planned over the next two decades to add two new buildings(bye, bye soccer field!) and a new parking structure as the Lamp grows.

The animators are encouraged to decorate their offices and cubicles to reflect their personalities, which can lead to some interesting places inside this den of creativity. This building, this whole campus is designed as a sanctuary, both physically and mentally from the outside world. Since we've been admiring architecture lately with the opening of the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, I thought we'd take a moment to admire some photos* of another building whose beautiful architecture belongs to the Mouse...







































I can't wait to see when they've finished building the new Walt Disney Animation Studio in Glendale a few years from now... Lasseter and Co. are working to create a place for the animators here in southern California that's as equally appealing as their brothers up north. Now if "Bolt" performs rather well, it might make the Suits a little less nervous about some of the ambitious plans John and his buddies want to do. I know you're like me in wanting to see this new place...

Patience.

* All photos are copyright their respective owners.

8 comments:

t said...

I had the very unique pleasure of visiting this very special place around the time they were moving in.
Pixar studios is definitely an artists haven.

I hope Walt Disney Animation Studios new place is equally, if not more, spectacular...and made for the artists, not the suits!!! ;)

Anonymous said...

The new animation building is "off the table" for now (recent decision). Too many other important things need the mouse's resources right now. But you know how often the mouse changes its mind. They *are* fixing up the current building a bit though.

Honor Hunter said...

That would explain the lack of any construction when I was there last week...

I've heard rumblings about Suits worried about certain things.

Let's see how Lasseter's success with breathing new life into Disney animation changes things.

icicletales said...

Hey anonymous,

What plans have been put on hold? Tell us? Or at least e-mail Honor and tell him.

Anonymous said...

Not to be a party pooper, but Emeryville is not a very inviting area. The Pixar Studio is amazing, but the surrounding area is in stark contrast to its shinny tenant. (it does look nice from "Google Earth", though...:)

Keva Lewes said...

I'd have to disagree, anonymous.

I thought Emeryville was quite nice when I was there a while back. If you go a few miles further you wind up in Oakland. Perhaps that is what you're confusing it with?

Justin said...

The area immediately surrounding Pixar is not that exciting. Other parts of Emmeryville are nicer, and Emmeryville is definitely nicer than Oakland, but Pixar stands out as the bright spot of that neighborhood.

Anonymous said...

"Not to be a party pooper, but Emeryville is not a very inviting area."

It's one of the most dangerous places in the Bay Area. Lots of hookers, addicts, and crime--although it is slowly getting better. This is why Pixar opted to put a fence around the place--not originally part of the plan (as per Emeryville City Hall reports). Still a major bone of contention with neighbors, but a very safe haven for the artists of Pixar. They gladly do plenty of community support.