You all know I love Disney. You all know I love Pixar. Put those two things together and when Disney invites you to come to California and be part of the #Cars3Event that includes a visit to Pixar Animation Studios – well, let me tell you – I turned into a real fan girl over it! I was so excited I was hyperventilating!
As a huge Pixar fan, nothing prepares you for the feeling you get when you first go under that Pixar Animation Studios arch when entering the property. Then as soon as you get yourself together, you turn and walk right up to the iconic lamp. The LAMP! And . . . the BALL! Both sitting right there, right in front of you. And . . . did you know the lamp lights up at night!!
The campus is beautiful. The campus is amazing. The campus is much more than I ever imagined. The attention to even the slightest and smallest details around every corner are mind-blowing!
On the walls ~
And even in the floors ~ !
Everywhere you go you notice something amazing. Some little detail that gives a nod to a Pixar movie or short. Everywhere you go you see happy employees. Some of the most creative minds in animation work here. At Pixar everything is about the story. At Pixar everything IS happy! Even the mail room is cool! Picking up your mail? Have a putt first – be sure to note the number of strokes on the board!
Walking into the lobby of the Steve Jobs Building you get a sense of community. You begin to understand the community of creativity that everyone who works here shares. The lobby houses the restaurant for employees, mail room, and the Pixar store among other smaller areas. With the lobby being the center, the building splits off left and right. Just as our brains are split into left and right. The left side of our brain handles reading, writing, speaking, arithmetic reasoning and understanding so the left side of the building is where the writing and the story creative minds work. The right side of our brain handles visual, music and emotional expression so the right side of the building is where the animation takes place. Both sides come together in the middle!
Everything at Pixar revolves around the story and all stories are based in emotional realism. Even the offices and campus are built to reflect this. Every area of the campus has a story behind it (like the Steve Jobs Building and the left brain/right brain concept). Every area of the campus evokes an emotion. Each area of the campus is built with the happiness and comfort of the creative minds that work there in mind.
From the beautiful, grassed amphitheater ~
To the year-round heated pool for employees to use, relax, exercise and think in ~
Or the basketball court to have a quick game while sharing ideas ~
The campus also includes a a soccer field, an organic vegetable garden used by Pixar’s chefs, flower cutting gardens and a wildflower meadow and a jogging trail. All of these amenities are meant to keep the animation staff happy and animated! , jogging trail, and basketball court.
I learned so much about the location on my tour. The story behind Pixar’s headquarters starts in 1999 with Steve Jobs. He had a vision for what he wanted the campus to be. His plan was for the space to hold up to 1000 employees. He wanted it to be a place that promoted encounters and unplanned collaborations. No closed-up offices – lots of glass. The original design called for separating different employee disciplines into different buildings – one for computer scientists, another for animators, and a third building for everybody else. But because Steve Jobs was a fanatic about wanting unplanned collaborations, he envisioned a campus where these encounters could take place ~ hence the lobby I described above. The atrium lobby houses a reception, employee mailboxes, cafe, foosball, fitness center, two 40-seat viewing rooms, and a large theater. His idea was that people who naturally isolate themselves would be forced to have great conversations.
Job once said, “If a building doesn’t encourage collaboration, you’ll lose a lot of innovation and the magic that’s sparked by serendipity. So we designed the building to make people get out of their offices and mingle in the central atrium with people they might not otherwise see.”
When people run into each other, when they make eye contact, great things happen ~ and this is so evident by the layout of the facilities and the great things that come out of Pixar.
Moving beyond the atrium, the entire building plan was meant to provide a clean slate that gave Pixar the ability to creatively fill the space as it saw fit – in a very organic way. Many offices are arranged in U-shaped units of 5-6 individual offices – with a central gathering area in the middle that brings the idea of the creating unplanned collaboration down to a smaller, workspace-sized concept. There are even large Bar-B-Que areas complete with grills and picnic benches for employee collaboration outside! The campus is organized like parts of Manhattan, with sections called the Upper West Side, Lower East Side, etc. An annex building for overflow staff two blocks away, meanwhile, is called Jersey. Another building housing pre-production work is called Brooklyn – (all top secret stuff in here and no roaming the halls allowed!)
Pixar has created a work environment that people enjoy working in. Starting with the huge version of Luxo Jr, the cast of the Incredibles in the atrium, Bing Bong, Hank . . around every corner another reminder. A reminder of work that took years to complete. A connection to the great work created and the emotional connection each employee has to each film. Everyone at Pixar has a connection and a love of their work and it shows. There can be no greater feeling than walking around and being reminded of the great work you helped produce – as well as seeing the smiles of visitors like me, recollect the way each movie touched their lives.
I would love to go back. I would love to see more. I would love to be a fly on the wall when all of those creative minds come together!
Since my tour of Pixar was part of the #Cars3Event, I have to remind you – don’t forget to follow along over the coming weeks to get all the latest information about Cars 3. We were shown a portion of the new film while there and I know everyone will LOVE LOVE LOVE it! I’m actually still a bit disappointed we didn’t see the whole thing but from what I understand all of those creative minds are still collaborating to make sure it’s perfect when it opens June 16! So buckle up!
I always say that every Pixar movie teaches a lesson and Cars 3 is no different. I think the main lesson will be learning to be happy with where you are in life. When you reach a certain age you may not be able to do all the things you once loved, but there are many other things in life to make you happy. Time will tell if I’m right.
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CARS 3 races into theaters everywhere on June 16th!
I was provided an all expense paid trip to San Francisco by Disney. All opinions are my own.