I spent a couple of hours at the Disney animation studio on lovely Sonora Boulevard, and was bowled over by the interior ambiance of the the new Disney Toons building, right next door to the old Disney Toons building.
A board artist at Disney TVA said:
"It's like Pixar in Glendale. Same designer did the interior. Big open entry with shiny floors. A gym and showers. Nice restaurant with reasonable prices. You should go look at it."
So I did ...
The woman guard at the desk in the airy lobby was a touch dubious about my Disney i.d. card, but let me in anyway. I've got no idea what the Emeryville facility is like (outside of the handful of online pictures I've seen) but Disney has redone the brick structure near Glendale's railroad tracks to within an inch of its architectural life.
The outside of the single story building has lots of glass and brick. The lobby beyond the tall, transparent doors is wide, and brightened with sunlight pouring through the sheets of glass decorating the entrance and far side of the building. The commissary is on the left, the artists' spaces north and south of the big, open lobby. As you walk down the wide halls to the production areas, the walls are covered with sand-yellow wood panelling.
Back in the work areas there are standard-issue cubicles. But unlike the specimens in the vacated Disney Toons space next door, these cubes are large and functional, with sliding doors. The artists have more room than at the old taco stand, also more privacy since the cubicle walls are taller. (Some people like the privacy, others are nostalgic for less of it.) The ceilings are high, with exposed silver ducts snaking across the open architecture. Between the broad areas of ranked cubicles, walls in primary blues, reds and greens encase good-sized story rooms.
But what I noticed the most as I ambled from cube to cube was how quiet the place was. A storyboarder clued me in:
"We're a lot more spread out over here because there's a lot more room. It'll get noisier when the place fills up."
It appeared to me the place would be in business awhile. Lasseter saw some of the work in progress yesterday, and Toons' product will be show-cased at D23 this weekend.