Come Friday, the notorious Mayan doomsday prophecy will either send shock waves of apocalyptic destruction across Earth, killing millions and bringing an end to life as we know it, or the date will pass without a glitch. At the time of writing (four days out from "the end"), most signs point to yet another false alarm, meaning a good deal of the world's doomers, preppers, anarcho-primitivists and survivalists could well start feeling a bit embarrassed, or plain let down--forced, again, to check their math. Either way, much of the end times set have long been stashing their seed bags and loading their rifles in preparation for a potential apocalypse due December 21.
But for others, there’s simply no need to relocate the family to a mud trench in the forest or to stock up on tinned beans. It’s not that they’re not worried. It's not that they don’t believe that a destructive, world-altering event is possible, and maybe nigh. They’re just filthy rich. For the multi-millionaire--the apocalyptic 1 percent, if you will--there’s a much more dignified, tried-and-true solution to riding out the proverbial Collapse: Buy your way into safety. More specifically, head out to north-central Kansas and look up Larry Hall, a former software developer turned proprietor of Survival Condo.
h5. Apparently select folk from St. Louis are really into Hall's place
Hall has turned a disused Atlas F missile silo with 9 foot thick concrete walls into a luxury shelter that can comfortably accommodate the well-endowed as World War III, an alien invasion, zombie outbreak, food shortages, freak pole shifts, global economic implosion, or some unfortunate cocktail thereof, lays waste to those mere mortals above ground.
It's a hot commodity, apparently--Hall's place has been sold out for months, forcing would-be residents to join a waiting list. Fortified deep underground “somewhere in Kansas”, Halls doomsday digs are stacked with a range of lavish commodities. There're the movie theatre and swimming pool; the 50-inch HD TVs seemingly everywhere; a roomy1,820-square feet of living space per unit, which at a starting rate of $2 million is a far cry from other survival condo companies that cater to something like the everyman. There's even a lounge area with a stocked bar.
Hall has also included more practical necessities, to be sure, such as 75,000 gallons of reserved drinking water, on-site professional doctors, and high-tech air filtration systems that in the clutch could filter out all the nastiness of nuclear fallout, leaving his residents unscathed. At least that's the idea.
h5. Conceptual overview of Survival Condo. That's the pool to the bottom right, directly below Hall's aquaponics system
I'd been hearing a bit about Larry Hall and his compound, so I decided to ring up the man himself. His voice came crackly through one of his bunker phones when ge opened up about the intricacies and the hopes of what's effectively the equivalent of an affluent gated community—the only difference being that its residents will be burrowed underground like reptilians. But first thing's first: How does he think it'll all go down, when (and if) it goes down?
“The Four Horsemen are only one possible threat [of apocalypse],” said Hall, who later sent me over 100 exclusive construction and concept images, some of which are published here for the first time. “There are many others of a manmade nature that are worth being prepared for. The luxury aspect of the survival condo was a relatively inexpensive addition to the feature set of the facility." The real cost drivers? "Major subsystems," he explaied, such as nuclear, biologic, and chemical air filtration, as well as "blast valves and the aquaponics system.”
h5. Aquaponics hole under construction
These aquaponic systems, which marry aquaculture and hydroponics, are housed deep within the facility. When the time comes, they'll act as a renewable source for food production. In short, aquaponics allow for plants to be grown in water instead of in soil, the water then being filtered by the plants, making it less toxic and clean enough to raise fish. So with enough food, water and renewable energies to last 70 people for more than five years underground in the condo, as Hall told me, I became curious as to what defences, if any, he and his tenants would wage should threats come from elsewhere--a direct missile hit, say. Sure, the compound is capped by a monolithic dome capable of withstanding the brunt of 500mph of force. But being a relic of the Cold War, I couldn't help but think the silo is perhaps no match for modern day warheads.
“When you see the facility you immediately realize that this is a special property,” Hall told me. “The walls and beams here are massive. You feel safe in the facility and quickly realize that it was engineered—it was not just thrown together. The facility was designed to survive a nuclear blast. As you become familiar with all the facilities and capabilities you would realize this. I expect you would even plan to spend more time here than you might have originally estimated.”
h5. Survival Condo's monolithic dome, seen here under construction
Global baptism of fire, or not, just how much more time, exactly? Here's Hall's estimation: “Indefinitely”.
And to be honest, he has a point. The silo, originally built by the Army Corps of Engineers, has more comforts and amenities than most first-world living quarters that are above ground. Sure, it may be buried a hundred leagues into the Earth, but the survival condo even comes with its own pretend windows with an outside setting of your choice. Potentially, you could be kicking it underground, whiskey sour in hand, while staring out at a white sand Caribbean beach knowing the real thing, the real Caribbean beach, is maybe now crawling with mutant fish and stinking of beached cetaceans. Classy.
So with all the comforts that any wealthy survivalist could throw money at, Larry Hall has designed the survival condo for likeminded millionaires savvy enough to realize that if or when the economy or society goes to pot, their cash-at-hand will be worthless, and their survival investment will be money well spent. But surely Hall realises this, too? It's my hope that, come time to batten down the hatches, those people sharing his oxygen don’t get on his nerves when all the profit he’s made becomes worthless in a bater-based economy.
Hall does seem to genuinely believe in what he’s doing, though. I don’t get the sense he’s just trying to scam the paranoid, although it would be an ingenious tactic—some kind of extreme doomsday assurance/insurance policy that will probably never “pay out”.
The real question, though, is whether Larry Hall himself be bedding down for the night in his million dollar doomsday bunker on or around December 21? Maybe.
“I am not worried about the date itself," he admitted, "but more that it represents a period of bizarre weather events. I believe the solar system is going through a region of space where there is an increased amount of cosmic radiation, that will continue to cause extreme weather and possible solar flares that could take out the power grid. I am also concerned about world economic conditions and possibilities of terrorism. It is best to be prepared for catastrophic events than to try and find resources after an event.”
Due to Larry Hall’s confidentiality policy he couldn’t share any contacts of those who've already invested millions into his souped-up missle silo, but he did say that all his investors are “self-made hands-on people that have worked for their money and continue to work for a living.” I guess this means we probable won’t be finding the likes of Wall Street or the Royal Family down there.
Top: Silo entrance (All images courtesy Larry Hall / Survival Condo)
Follow Jake at @oijake