What, A HAPPY Workplace? (6/12/01)

Whither Steve goest, so goeth AtAT-- and since nothing particularly dramatic seems to be happening at Apple these days, it's probably as good a time as any to check in over at Pixar. Steve's "other company" might basically run itself (we're told His Mercurialness spends the lion's share of his precious time on Apple), but at least one aspect of the computer animation outfit bears his distinctive brand of micromanagement: the new headquarters. We first mentioned Pixar's new digs back in December, when the company's employees finally waved goodbye to the occasional explosions of the nearby Chevron refinery and started to move into an old Del Monte cannery that Steve had spent the past three and a half years reworking into an animator's heaven on earth.

At the time we mentioned some of Steve's spiffier touches, including "a terraced amphitheater, basketball and volleyball courts, a jogging path, and a lap pool"-- with a swimming pool and an apple orchard still to come. Well, we're not sure if the apples are in place just yet, but according to an article in The New York Times, apparently the Pixarians have settled in nicely-- orchard or no orchard. If any of the employees are put out by Steve's attempt to "create a lot of arbitrary collisions of people" (all of the bathrooms and mailboxes are apparently located in one central atrium), you'd never know it from the Times's description, which seems to indicate that for all of Steve's careful planning, the real warmth and personality in Pixar's new headquarters comes from the workers themselves. Some employees zip through the atrium on metal scooters; others have decorated their offices with "tiki torches and bamboo hutches"; "one cluster of offices has set up its own rock 'n' roll stage." And then there's the Love Lounge.

Rather than make you ask, we'll just tell you: the Love Lounge is a stainless steel crawl space "about the size of a restaurant booth" apparently installed to provide maintenance access to an air-conditioning unit. Animator Andrew Gordon (in whose office the teeny doorway to the room is located) is presumably responsible for the crawl space's transformation into the Love Lounge-- complete with tasseled pillows, a fold-up cocktail table, an overhead string of Christmas lights, and a whole lotta glassware and liquor. Mr. Gordon also serves as the Lounge's bartender, donning a "1940's vintage smoking jacket" to mix drinks for guests, who can sip them calmly in private while listening to piped-in swing music and keeping a watchful eye on the outside corridor via closed-circuit TV. The Love Lounge's walls boast autographs from some of its more distinguished visitors, including "Michael Eisner, Roy Disney, and Randy Newman."

While this redefinition of the term "mini-bar" was obviously not among Steve's planned features in Pixar's new digs, the fact that he wholeheartedly approves of the Love Lounge is just one more reason to love the lil' fella. If we ever pick up and move to the San Francisco area, remind us to apply for jobs at Pixar as well as at Apple; either environment would be a nice change from dress code warnings and twenty-five cent coffee.

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The above scene was taken from the 6/12/01 episode:

June 12, 2001: The granddaddy of all rumors sites pours cold water on the "removable tablet iMac" theory. Meanwhile, Pixar employees are whooping it up in their new Steve-designed headquarters (complete with Love Lounge), and The Register's Tony Smith dons his asbestos skivvies to note that Windows XP's interface may be more revolutionary than Mac OS X's...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3109: But What A Dream It Was (6/12/01)   It's just one of those weeks; chalk up another day in the lull. As confirmed Apple drama junkies, we're so starved for Mac-themed news, we've taken to monitoring CNN on the off-chance that maybe, just maybe, Steve Jobs flipped out and is holed up in a clock tower with a rifle and a scope; alas, no such luck (so far)...

  • 3111: Don't Flame The Messenger (6/12/01)   Bored with the lack of interesting happenings in the Mac scene right this minute? Well, nothing spices up a dull party like a healthy round of heresy! The Register's Tony Smith evidently just installed a new mail server and decided to stress-test it under a worst-case scenario, because he has officially gone on record with his stated opinion that Mac OS X's Aqua interface "isn't as innovative" as the "Luna" user interface in the upcoming Windows XP-- an act which, as you all know, is tantamount to dousing one's genitals in steak sauce and then repeatedly flicking the ear of a sleeping Burmese tiger...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

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