The best science fiction movies make use of real life locations, carefully chosen for their architectural style, to emulate the future. A diverse array of styles have represented the future over the years, frequently determined by the story and the tone of the movie. Dystopian visions of the future are often populated with modern architecture — the buildings of Mexico City served this purpose for Total Recall, many of them perfectly constructed with lots of 90 degree angles and minimal decoration. Utopian science fiction has made frequent use of contemporary structures of metal and glass. Art deco, gothic, and any number of other styles frequently crop up, too.
Many of the locations we’ve seen in science fiction movies have become famous in their own right due to their frequent use. Ennis House in Los Angeles has been used on film hundreds of times, perhaps most famously as Rick Deckard’s home in Blade Runner. The Bradbury Building, also used in Blade Runner and hundreds of other movies and television shows, is equally famous. Unique structures, with a little set dressing and the right camera angle, can make you believe you’re in the future.
Anytime I’ve ever run across a blog that talks about the real life places behind the settings in Hollywood movies, I’ve clicked it and read it, because it’s a topic I find interesting. I’ve also had a mental list running of places I’ve seen as I drive around Fargo that would be good locations for science fiction movie shoots. Would anybody ever shoot a sci-fi movie in Fargo? I don’t know, but technology is making anything possible these days. So, here is my list of potential science fiction settings — 11 Fargo places ripped from science fiction.
Island Park Ramp
The Island Park parking ramp on Main Avenue is a mixture of glass and concrete and has a unique “building without a top” kind of appearance. It looks like something from the future. I can see it as a futuristic police station or jail with a helipad on top.
With its mirrored glass exterior and contemporary style, Essentia Hospital could easily fill a role in a science fiction movie, and looking down the atrium inside is positively dizzying.
NDSU College of Architecture
Some might argue buildings like this are antiquated, not futuristic, and they might be right, but I can totally see a building like this in a dystopian science fiction movie. It’s a study in contradictions, with soft, round curves, and hard, gritty texture on the columns. I almost expect exhaust to erupt from under the disc as this building takes to the skies.
The Black Building
It was once a Sears store, but the over-engineered construction and brutal appearance of the Black Building would make it the perfect home for humanity’s last holdouts. The building has been known for elevators that don’t work and an inefficient heating system, so they’re already halfway to the apocalypse as it is.
Elm Circle Home
This home on Elm Circle has a classic, boxy science fiction look — with a little set dressing, it could easily be the year 2515.
This building was once a non-descript brick box in downtown Fargo, but when the property was redeveloped a few years ago to become part of NDSU’s downtown campus, an additional floor was added on top and the exterior took on a decidedly futuristic appearance. I can see it as a City Hall or Police Station of the future.
Eddy Court Home
If there is a more futuristic-looking home in Fargo, I don’t know where. This home in central Fargo, with its sharp angles and tall, skinny windows, looks like it’s ripped right out of the future.
Gate City Bank
Another concrete building in modern style, and Gate City’s tower has the appearance of a landing pad for some as-yet-unknown vertical takeoff and landing vehicle.
Downtown Apartments and Condos
Buildings like this are cropping up everywhere you look in downtown Fargo. In some cases, they’re totally new buildings housing condos and apartments, and in others, old, brick buildings with shiny new entryways and ductwork. The contrast between old and new reminds us we’re living in the future.
Where a run-down movie theater and vacant lots once lived, the Cityscapes development is now home to college students and urban dwellers and boasts a Verhoevenesque cylindrical corner, four stories tall.
Fargo’s Radisson Hotel is a perfect block of future waiting to happen. Throw a corporate emblem on the side and you have a perfect home for a super-villain’s corporate headquarters.
Are there any futuristic Fargo spots I’m forgetting? Leave a comment.
Photos by Troy Larson, copyright Sonic Tremor Media