Emeryville, CA

Pixar Animation Studios


Structural Engineering


220,000 sf

Key Info

Base isolation


To provide Pixar with a stunning new 16-acre campus, Rutherford + Chekene worked with award-winning architects and Pixar leaders to create a 220,000 sf building that evokes the look of a converted warehouse with hand-laid brick exteriors and exposed bolted steel beams in the interior. The campus’ central building houses offices, a major server installation, a digital theater, sound rooms, screening rooms, a cafeteria to serve hundreds, and a recreation center. Due to the importance of meeting movie release dates, R+C and Pixar chose a base isolation system that would resume operations within 48 hours of a major seismic event.

For Pixar's West Village, R+C renovated and built out 56,000 sf of tenant improvements at a vintage warehouse. Spaces include offices, an art studio, screening rooms, a major server installation, and video teleconferencing rooms. The wood beams, trusses and roof structure above were left exposed to retain the sense of an open, rustic warehouse. Significant seismic upgrades for the warehouse were also part of the scope, including 50-foot micropiles, concrete footings, structural steel moment and braced frames, hazmat abatement, a new roof diaphragm and roofing. The project was completed in phases as tenants moved out of the building and Pixar expanded its facility. This last phase of the West Village development at Pixar included conversion of a space previously used by a bakery into an additional 26,000 sf office facility. The design was centered on a large employee lounge with a 24-foot-high skylit ceiling. Radiating out from the lounge are screening and editing rooms, conference rooms, a fitness center, and art studios. Offices lie on outer areas, with the intent to draw people to the center for interaction and collaboration. Rutherford + Chekene provided structural engineering services for all five project phases of the West Village Development.


Leavening peerless structural engineering skill with humor, philosophy, people skills and, above all, a consummate understanding of San Francisco's permitting process, [Alan] saw this project through.