I’ve just started reading Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs” biography, but details have been leaking for days. I’ve been trying to avoid some of the more spoilery ones.
But Gawker noted several details today that include an interesting, wholly unexpected Arkansas angle — one I haven’t yet reached in Isaacson’s book.
In short, around 2000, Jobs chose materials from Arkansas to build Pixar’s Emeryville, Calif., headquarters.
Here’s the passage from the book. It doesn’t name the manufacturer.
Because the building’s steel beams were going to be visible, Jobs pored over samples from manufacturers across the country to see which had the best color and texture. He chose a mill in Arkansas, told it to blast the steel to a pure color, and made sure the truckers used caution not to nick any of it. He also insisted that all the beams be bolted together, not welded. “We sandblasted the steel and clear-coated it, so you can actually see what it’s like,” [Pixar's general manager] recalled. “When the steelworkers were putting up the beams, they would bring their families on the weekend to show them.”
Fun to know there’s a little bit of Arkansas at Pixar, and that it took an Arkansas company to meet Jobs’ exact specifications. Now the big question: Who’s the Arkansas company?
UPDATE: Didn’t take long to find out, thanks to Google and the Twitters. Big ups to @RobertBlake and @MRJAWright for tracking it down: AFCO Steel in Little Rock, as you can see from this PDF from Modern Steel, provided beams for the Pixar project.
You can see more photos of the Pixar headquarters on the website of the architect who designed it, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.