Nickelodeon cut the ribbon on its new, more than 200,000-square-foot, cutting-edge, sustainable building in Burbank on as the sun peeked out Wednesday morning. On hand to do the honors were Nickelodeon Group President Cyma Zarghami, Viacom President and CEO Robert Bakish and Viacom Vice Chair Shari Redstone, along with Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes.
Both Redstone and Zarghami recalled when Nickelodeon’s first West Coast campus opened in 1998, just across the courtyard from the gleaming new, five-story building, remarking on just how much the company has grown.
“When our original building opened here in 1998, housing five productions and 200 employees, I think we outgrew it in about a day and a half,” recalled Zarghami. “Back then I remember thinking, ‘How cool would it be to work in a place with a yard out front. We still have the yard.”
Redstone quoted her father, Sumner Redstone, who was on hand to open the original Nick building in 1998: “And I quote: ‘At Viacom, content — original, unique, high-quality entertainment — is what we’re all about. And Nickelodeon delivers on that promise every day. … Nickelodeon’s success in the television business is legendary. And best of all, it’s a living legend.” She noted how that is still true today.
“It’s all about creating great content, having a home for talented people to do what they do best and embracing a culture of collaboration, support and innovation,” said Redstone. “This studio will allow Nickelodeon to keep attracting the talent and creative minds that are out there and to create stories that power this brand around the world.”
Zarghami acknowledged the huge growth Nickelodeon has undergone since that 1998 opening. The new facility brings together more than 700 Nickelodeon employees working on more than 20 live-action and animated productions.
“We have the incredible good fortune to still be growing,” Zarghami said. “And that is not an easy feat in this kind of environment. That’s something we’re really proud of.”
The building was created with both artists and sustainability in mind. In fact, Nickelodeon is shooting for a Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification with its sustainable design and features.
“Not only did we hire the best people to build this, we talked to so many of the people here to make sure that we did it right,” said Zarghami. “We wanted to give them what they needed to work and be productive and to enjoy themselves when they came to work everyday. We wanted to improve the way we were working: People can draw on the walls and express themselves. We wanted to fix what wasn’t working: People can eat here now.”
Some of the features include a new 88-seat screening room, three voice recording studios, a fitness room, a music room, a game room, a cafe and a Zen garden featuring a statue of Stimpy from the classic Nick toon “Ren & Stimpy.”
To build creativity, each floor is equipped with chalkboard, dry erase and magnetic walls upon which they are encouraged to draw. Artwork is peppered throughout the halls, and there are dedicated art galleries showcasing the work of both in-house and outside artists. In addition, there are two artistic studios where employees can experiment — one with classic hand-drawn animation tools and stop-motion capabilities and another that features new digital technology with cutting-edge animation software.
“Our mission is to make the world a more playful place,” said Zarghami as she closed her remarks. And that’s certainly true today for Nickelodeon employees.