Scranton Business Park from the First Season of “The Office”Jul 21st, 2014 | By Lindsay | Category: The Office Filming Locations
A fellow stalker named Scott recently challenged me to track down the building that was used as both the interior and exterior of Scranton Business Park during the inaugural season of The Office. I was perplexed at his query as I had no idea that two different Dunder Mifflin locations had been utilized during the show’s run. While I knew that interior filming had originally taken place inside of a real office space and that a set modeled after it had later been built inside of a soundstage, I always assumed that said office was at Chandler Valley Center Studios (which I blogged about here) on Saticoy Street in Van Nuys. I was wrong.
Upon receiving the challenge, I did a Google search for “The Office filming locations Season 1” and came across a Yahoo! Answers query from an inquiring mind named Nickvet419 who had the very same question that Scott did. Nickvet419 had provided some screen captures (pictured below) and, sure enough, the building shown was NOT Chandler Valley Center Studios. Upon further searching, I dug up a 2006 TV Guide blog post written by Jenna Fischer (aka Pam Beesly) in which she stated that the series’ first season – both interiors and exteriors – had been filmed at a real office building in Culver City. I immediately forwarded the screen captures and Jenna’s post to fellow stalker/Office aficionado Owen, of the When Write Is Wrong blog, and asked if he had ever done any research on the locale. His response? “Nope, I’ve never tried to track down that location. In fact, I have zero recollection of that. Are you telling me that the Saticoy Street building we’re all familiar with wasn’t used for exterior scenes during the entire Season 1 run? I don’t remember that at all. My memory sucks, but I figured I would have remembered if outdoor scenes suddenly changed from an unidentified building to the Saticoy spot. All the outdoor scenes I can picture are of Saticoy. Weird.” You’re telling me! How in the heck did I not recognize the fact that two different Dunder Mifflins had appeared on the show? Thankfully, Owen quickly tracked down the Culver City locale and I ran out to stalk it this past weekend.
In real life, the original exterior of Scranton Business Park was actually Stage 1 and 2 of the Century Studio Corporation, which has since gone out of business due to runaway production. The building housed both soundstages and second floor office space when it was in operation. You can see photographs of some of the company’s soundstages (there were nine of them in total) here.
For a time, Stage 1 and 2 were being offered for sale, but the property now appears to have been taken off the market. Several set pieces and backdrops are still located onsite, though, as you can see below. I am guessing that the location went into foreclosure at some point and is currently in a holding pattern, waiting to be sold by the bank.
Sadly, the exterior of the property was altered in recent years, as you can see in the Google Street View image below (and LoopNet listing photo here) as compared to my current photograph. While there used to be eight windows running across the second floor of the building, there are now only six.
The door to the loading dock located directly beneath the missing windows has also been made taller, which means that a portion of the second floor office space has been removed. I was absolutely heartbroken upon discovering the change because it is that removed area that I believe was used on The Office.
As you can see below, the building is divided into two sections, each with a soundstage and second-floor office space, separated by a green-gated entrance. The northern portion comprises Stage 1, while the southern portion comprises Stage 2.
After spending a ridiculous amount of time comparing the blurred views of buildings visible in the background of some Season 1 episodes to Google Street View images of buildings located across the street from Stage 1 and 2, I became convinced that it was the second floor of Stage 1 (the northern section) that was used as the interior of Dunder Mifflin. (I know, I know – I have way too much time on my hands!) The discovery was particularly distressing as I was hoping that the office space that appeared on the series was still intact – and that I could possibly tour it someday. But that does not appear to be the case.
Stage 1’s offices were only utilized for the first season of The Office (a total of six episodes), but because the set built for the remainder of the filming was almost an exact replica, the space would have been completely recognizable.
What a thrill it would have been to see it in person!
Of the set, Jenna Fischer stated in her blog post, “In Season 1 of The Office, we shot on location at a real office building, on the second floor of some old offices in Culver City, California. For Season 2, we moved to a soundstage, where they re-created the original office location down to the smallest detail. (Except that they made Michael’s office a little larger. It was hard to fit the camera crew into the old office to do his interview segments.) Why move at all? The No. 1 reason: Now we can control the weather and the amount of light that comes through the windows. When they were real windows facing the real outside, it was tricky! If you watch the DVD of Season 1, I bet you can see some subtle differences between our old location and our new stage. The craziest thing was that for the first few weeks in our new location we would forget we were on a soundstage and get confused trying to leave. The actual exit doors were all different. Just imagine if someone rebuilt the interior of your house on a soundstage. So when you walked out your “front door,” instead of seeing the outside you were still inside a giant warehouse with lights and equipment. It felt like we were on The Truman Show!”
Pictured below are screen captures of Michael Scott’s (Steve Carell) office, the set version of which was made slightly larger than the real life version, as Jenna mentioned.
The change is barely noticeable, though.
The Dunder Mifflin warehouse, where the gang played basketball in the Season 1 episode titled “Basketball,” was actually the soundstage on the bottom floor of Stage 2. This was easily discernible thanks to the adjacent brick wall that was visible in the episode.
According to DVD commentary provided by B.J. Novak (aka Ryan Howard), during Season 1 the production team transformed the soundstage located directly below the real life offices used for interior filming into a makeshift production office. I am guessing that is why the Stage 2 soundstage was employed as the warehouse in “Basketball” – because the Stage 1 soundstage was already being utilized as production space.
I was thrilled to discover that the little green-gated alcove located in between Stage 1 and 2 had appeared in some of the first season’s deleted scenes. At least that area is still intact. Now if only I could get in there to see it!
For more stalking fun, be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Los Angeles magazine online. And you can check out my other blog, The Well-Heeled Diabetic, here
Big THANK YOU to Owen, from the When Write Is Wrong blog, for finding this location!
Until next time, Happy Stalking!
Stalk It: Scranton Business Park from the first season of The Office is located at 3322 La Cienega Place in Culver City. Chandler Valley Center Studios, the building used during Seasons 2-9 of The Office, can be found at 13927 Saticoy Street in Van Nuys.