Saturday, March 11, 2006

Disney's "Hat" Building

...that's the Disney Feature Animation Building which sits beside the 134 Freeway in Burbank.  In all its multi-colored splendor.
It was built in the nineties to replace the OLD animation building on Disney's main lot.  Ever since the structure was occupied, many artists have had problems with it.
The interior space is a broken honeycomb of hallways, offices, cubicles and open areas, and the thing is a b*tch to air condition or heat properly.  In the summer, if one floor is a comfortable 72 degrees, another floor is a meat locker, and ANOTHER floor is like an overheated Soviet apartment.
In the winter, people use small space heaters under their desks so they don't get frostbite (I exaggerate but slightly).  The company doesn't like employees to use space heaters; people use them anyway.
Some little while back, animation head David Stainton ordered a cost study about what it would take to gut the building and make it more livable.  The cost estimate came back and it was prohibitive, so a less draconian study was initiated.  The costs (apparently) were still prohibitive.
Word is now out and about that John Lasseter and Ed Catmull, incoming Disney Animation topkicks, are also less than enamored with the building, and they might institute some changes.
(-- from our usual reliable sources) 


Kevin Koch said...

I visited a friend in Disney viz dev a few years ago, and heard a lengthy sarcastic tirade about the horrendous lighting. Viz dev was on the top floor, and the super high, industrial-style ceiling provided piss-poor lighting, and no simple way to rectify the problem. The viz dev artist's cubes were studded with those cheap metal-dish clip-on lights, with extension cords all over the place.

So much for designing a building for its occupants and its intended function.

Hey, here's an idea for John and Ed -- move the animation crew back into buildings that actually were designed for them, the beautiful old brick buildings that Walt had built.

Anonymous said...

I second Kevin's idea:

Move the Feature Animation Dept. back into the Animation Building (those letters are still over the front entrance) on the old main lot at 500 Buena Vista .

It would give the artists a more comfortable and efficient work space AND clearly send a signal that John is all about recapturing and restoring the legacy of Walt Disney's animation centered ethos.

The only other plan I can think of that would be better is to house a small "traditional" (hand-drawn) unit in an anonymous warehouse building up in Emeryville , close to John , and far removed from the prying eyes of Disney management , and let them alone for 2 or 3 years while they develop a new hand-drawn feature.

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