Friday, July 11, 2008
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...
* All photos are copyright their respective owners.