By Robin MacLennan
Ontario Construction Report staff writer
A key part of the set for HBO’s new hit series The Last of Us was designed and manufactured by Canada’s Proform Construction Products.
The Quarantine Zone Wall featured on the TV series is a precast concrete wall designed and manufactured at Proform’s Calgary Plant.
“Proform was contacted by the Art Director in April 2021, when the series was first announced it would be filming in Calgary and other parts of Alberta,” the company states on its website. “They were looking for a way to replicate the Quarantine Zone wall that is featured in the video game.”
The show’s art director worked closely with the company to explain the vision and requirements for the set and provided concept drawings which were converted into a 3D-image.
“The 3D-image was an excellent resource not only for us but for the art director and their team, to incorporate the image into their modeling system for the set as a whole.”
It then became the key component to creating the layout – the drawings for each precast concrete component and all the additional pieces needed to connect the precast pieces and put it all together.
“We worked with many of the set designers at our plant during the fabrication stage to create the desired distressed look of the precast pieces. We had to make the panels look beat up and old, which is a first for us.” said Rob Heemskerk, COO at Proform. “It was fun working with the Art Director to come up with ways to make the panels look worn.
“We incorporated different textures such as adding aggregate, embedding and exposing rebar and creating rough voids to make the wall look 20 years old. “The worse it looked the better they liked it!” said Randy Giberson, manager of engineering.
Not only was the look of the wall important, but so were the logistics for the install, structural integrity and safe interaction during filming.
Proform’s crew had to take into consideration how the wall would be supported on the ground.
“This wasn’t meant to be a permanent structure, so we designed the supporting structure and many of the connections for ease of assembly and disassembly,” Giberson said. “We prestressed the panels which allowed for the walls to be 6 inches thick and 40 feet high while still accommodating the need for actors and film crew to safely be on top of the wall for the required scenes in the show.
After production of the precast components were complete, installers used the 3-D image during the erection process.
Proform provided continuous engineering services to the installers which allowed for decisions to be made quickly and on the fly to accommodate field conditions and virtually eliminate delays.
Choosing precast concrete allowed for the wall to go up in record time, so the set artists could incorporate the final touches for the desired look for the wall.
When filming commenced, the wall system was designed for quick disassembly so that it could be easily removed from site and stored if required later.
Proform is very excited and honored to be part of The Last of Us series. Not only is this an incredible show, but we’re proud to have our precast products be a part of Canadian cinematic history and be featured in the largest TV production in Canada.
The Last of Us airs Sundays at 9pm on HBO or can be streamed on Crave.