For the past year and a half, the pages of this magazine have shared stories of how the architecture community has adapted to the challenges posed by an unprecedented global pandemic. As a profession, we adapted to working remotely; at the same time, we helped clients rethink spaces for a post-COVID world. It has been a challenging couple of years, but it could have been worse.
We could have been facing a zombie apocalypse.
Had we been, our profession could have made a meaningful contribution under those circumstances as well. In a way, it already has. John Blood, AIA, is a partner at Danze Blood Architects and a distinguished senior lecturer at The University of Texas at Austin. Beginning in 2017, Blood worked with the art department at AMC’s popular television drama series “Fear the Walking Dead,” providing set design and art direction services.
The show tells the story of a group of survivors in the immediate aftermath of a world overrun by reanimated corpses (i.e., the “walking dead”) that want nothing more than to devour the flesh of those who are still alive. Designing a built environment for the living that provides protection from roaming hoards of the undead requires considering programmatic requirements not usually included in the standard set of architectural services. For the show’s fourth season, Blood imagined how a band of survivors might adapt an abandoned baseball park to act as an improvised walled city. According to Blood, his design was “an attempt to build a safe community while surviving in a very hostile world.” To achieve this, Blood pictured occupants finding improvised uses for existing structures while using the ballpark’s outfield to plant crops.
During production, Dell Diamond in Round Rock, north of Austin, was used as a set for the ballpark depicted in this television show about a fictional worldwide zombie outbreak. Perhaps ironically, during the real worldwide COVID outbreak, Dell Diamond served as a mass vaccination site for Williamson County.