The Fred Rogers Co., the production company that continues to create new PBS Kids series a decade after the death of its founder, last week moved out of its original home within Pittsburgh’s WQED and into a larger office on the city's South Side.
Rogers, the star and creator of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, was one of the founders of WQED, according to Kevin Morrison, Rogers Company c.o.o. “So when he formed his own nonprofit to make Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in 1971, it was natural to stay in the building, especially since the series used the studio there,” he said.
The last episode of the iconic PBS children's show, which was primarily a live-action production, was shot in WQED's studio in 2000. Since then, the company has developed new animated series for PBS Kids — including Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and the forthcoming Peg + Cat — and has outgrown its office space within WQED's facility.
The move “was an emotional goodbye for all involved,” said George Hazimanolis, WQED spokesperson.
The Fred Rogers Co. “has several new projects in the pipeline for PBS and needed additional space for staff and to consolidate offsite storage into one large location,” Hazimanolis said. The station tried to accommodate those needs, “but we were unable to offer the volume of contiguous space they required.”
The company’s 15 employees packed up four decades’ worth of stuff — including Fredosaurus Rex, an 8-foot-tall dinosaur statue dressed like Mister Rogers — and moved about 3 miles away to a 6,000-square-foot suite in an office building. “Their new offices will be able to meet their needs far into the future,” Hazimanolis said.
The new offices are twice the size of the space that the production company occupied within WQED and include two edit suites, Morrison said. Rogers Co. no longer needs access to an on-site studio since all live-action shooting is now done on location in Pittsburgh.
Animation for Daniel Tiger and Peg + Cat is subcontracted to specialized animation studios in Toronto, and digital work for PBSKids.org is done by Pittsburgh’s Schell Games, which is now just a five-minute walk from the new office.