The Steve Jobs Building Stories June 26, 2013

‘There’s something wrong with those colors’

We’ve heard some stories in the past of Steve Jobs’ involvement in the construction of the Pixar campus in Emeryville, California and the main building, now named “The Steve Jobs Building” in honor of its co-founder and former CEO. In it’s recent tour of the building, senior design project manager Craig Payne, who happened to come with Steve to Pixar from NeXT, told BuzzFeed another interesting story about Jobs’ attention to detail during the project:

“So Steve loves the Hills Brothers building in San Francisco, and he wanted to replicate that [brick] palette,” says Payne. “So we found a company in Washington state that agreed to match that as best as possible. It was like five different colors of brick. So they made a 10-foot-high by 10-foot-wide panel of the brick, and Steve said, ‘I love it.’ He even said, ‘I want to eat it,’ which is a funny comment. It was done. We found our brick.”

That is, until the brick started to be applied to the walls. “Steve looked at it and said, ‘There’s something wrong with those colors,’” says Payne. “Sure enough, they took the production brick and they built another panel next to the one that he approved, and one of the colors was off. We were in a real mess because we were at the point where the brick was going to be laid on the building. We went back to the brick manufacturer, and we were like, ‘That deep brown needs to be deeper.’ They sent, like, three more samples, and after the third sample they said, ‘We’re going to do one more, but that’s it, and if you don’t like it, we’re done.’ They were just at their wits’ end. So I was the sacrificial lamb. I flew up to Spokane. The brick came out of the kiln, the guy grabbed the brick and said, ‘Do you want it or not?’ I didn’t lose my job, so I guess I made the right decision.

You can check out the rest of BuzzFeed’s tour of the Pixar building here.

The Steve Jobs Building Stories November 6, 2012

Pixar names its main studio building after Steve Jobs

As noted by the PixarTimes, a Pixar employee tweeted the photo above showing what is apparently the entrance to the main building on Pixar’s campus newly named in memory of Steve Jobs. Jobs actually played a big role in designing the building itself as CEO of Pixar, as recently noted in the Walter Isaacson “Steve Jobs” biography. Pixar recently honored Jobs for his contributions to the company in the end credits of its latest animated film “Brave”, but the naming of the building is obviously a more permanent tribute to the man who helped form the company. OfficeSnapshots has a good account of Jobs’ role in creating the main Pixar building, much of which is found in the biography (excerpt below):

According to Jobs’ recent biography, the headquarters was to be a place that “promoted encounters and unplanned collaborations.”… Jobs also strived for a campus that stood the test of time. Tom Carlisle, Pixar’s facilities director adds that, ”He didn’t want a standard office-park building—one with corrugated-metal siding or ribbon windows. The building had to look good 100 years from now. That was his main criterion.”

Pixar’s campus design originally separated different employee disciplines into different buildings – one for computer scientists, another for animators, and a third building for everybody else. But because Jobs was fanatic about these unplanned collaborations, he envisioned a campus where these encounters could take place, and his design included a great atrium space that acts as a central hub for the campus.

Brad Bird, director of The Incredible and Ratatouille, said of the space, “The atrium initially might seem like a waste of space…But Steve realized that when people run into each other, when they make eye contact, things happen.”

And did it work? “Steve’s theory worked from day one,” said John Lasseter, Pixar’s chief creative officer “…I’ve never seen a building that promoted collaboration and creativity as well as this one.”

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