Just when you thought End Timers couldn’t get any loonier, they’ve gone and started building themselves a maze of underground hotels. Not just any hotels. Chichi hotels. Hotels that’ll let you sleep soundly, veg out in front of a flat-screen TV, and get your pearly whites fixed all while the world explodes–and all in decor that they liken to a “luxury yacht” (and which we liken to a Best Western). The cost: $50,000 for the “extended stay package.”
OK, OK. We know it’s low-hanging fruit to take jabs at the survivalists. Except that there’s a cottage industry for this crap among people who obsessively collect canned food and think 2012 was actually a good movie. More to the point, Robert Vecino, the main guy who’s developing these shelters, is either the battiest of them all, or an entrepreneurial wizard who has done what slick businessmen have always done: capitalize on people’s irrational fears. Accommodation for kids, we oughta note, is half price.
As Vecino tells it, the Vivos Underground Survival Shelter Network is a latter-day “Noah’s Ark.” The idea’s to convert underground nuclear bunkers across the United States into temporary shelters that can withstand a 50-megaton blast, which, ostensibly, will protect against a whole raft of apocalyptic threats, whether terrorism or social anarchy or a mystery object that swoops down and wipes everyone off the face of the planet with some killer acid rain.
They’re supposed to get built in time for the end of the world as we know it, which nowadays people are predicting at 2012 (per the Mayan calendar), but previous generations have pegged at at 60, 90, 365, 922, 1000, 1496, 1669, 1736, 1794, and 2000. So if this cataclysm doesn’t pan out, surely there’ll be another one to prep for, ie. your investment is safe. Or something.
Some notes on the design: The shelters will be organized like a bike wheel, with a central communal core radiating 10 residential wings. They’ve got sleeping quarters, fitness rooms, movie theaters, dental and medical clinics, and a jail — among other amenities.
Guess we’ll still have Internet in the End Times. And, apparently, Thomas Kinkade:
Each shelter is meant to accommodate about 200 people for a year. There’s already one underway at “undisclosed location” near Barstow, California, and people are taking the bait. Nightline interviewed one customer who thinks of himself as the ultimate Boy Scout and complains that nowadays, “You don’t know what to be afraid of,” so, naturally, he’s afraid of EVERYTHING. Check the footage here:
Far be it for us to get judgy about dropping $50-large on what’s basically a theme hotel. Bon vivants do it all the time. Our complaint is an aesthetic one. It’s the end of humanity: Do you really want to spend it drowning in an ocean of beige? Beige chairs. Beige carpets. Beige walls. Yuck. And look at the communal dining area. The place should be fun and bright and lively. It should scream ?new beginnings?–this is Noah’s Ark, after all!–and not “Red Lobster” (only sadder).
Oh, who knows? Maybe Vecino did his market research and found out that his clientele goes for all this drab cruise-ship stuff. And at least he and his team are trying to make the rooms comfortable, compared with your typical Cold War shelter, which was concrete, concrete, and more concrete. So until something splashier comes along, you’d better reserve you“>yourself a spot now. You’ve only got 857 days left.
Got a Design Crime? E-mail Cliff@fastcompany.com with your suggestions!