Pixar Animation Studios, Emeryville

Emeryville, California

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Bohlin Cywinski Jackson was retained by Steve Jobs in the capacity as Pixar’s CEO to design a new headquarters on a 15-acre site in the San Francisco Bay Area. The resulting two-story steel-and-masonry building is a collaborative space with many pathways for spontaneous interaction and collaboration. The integration of light, volume and technology facilitate a sophisticated, humane and interactive workplace.

Photo credit: Sharon Risedorph

The Nature of Place

The campus, located within a modest warehouse district, features an architecture based on a highly crafted, industrial aesthetic suitable to both the physical context and technical creativity of the company. The structure, designed for a staff of 600, has a large atrium at its core that acts as a central piazza for the campus. Activated by the lobby, conference rooms, lounges and cafe, this dynamic town center links office spaces, as well as a formal, 250-seat theater at one end.

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Photo credit: Sharon Risedorph

The Nature of People

Pixar is well known for its groundbreaking animated features, including Toy Story, A Bug’s Life and Cars. Its continued success relies on its ability to attract top creative and technical talent, and its ability to maintain an organizational culture that favors cross-pollination of ideas among its diverse group that includes story artists, animators and computer scientists. The building and grounds are a spatial embodiment of this company culture, helping to attract and retain employees.

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Photo credit: Peter Aaron

The Nature of Materials

The facility is rigorously detailed and crafted with an elegant, simple palette of brick, sandblasted clear-coated structural steel, exposed wood decking, glass and stainless steel. These natural materials are used throughout the site and campus to maintain the client’s language, quality and culture. Custom roof trusses support saw-toothed skylights that provide diffused natural light throughout the space. Two pedestrian bridges, cable-suspended from the roof, span the 60-foot wide atrium—a visible demonstration of the beauty of structural engineering.

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Photo credit: Sharon Risedorph

Project Data

Emeryville, California
1996 – 2000
Pixar Animation Studios
218,000 SF


Citation of Merit for Architectural Design
Citation Award for Excellence in Architectural Design
Best Interior Architectural Design