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Creative Stealth
Can landscape architects really camouflage the ubiquitous cell tower?
By Anthony Flint

It's impossible to miss, driving either direction on the Hutchinson Parkway near the exit for Mamaroneck, New York: what looks like a giant toilet brush, 150 feet tall. Its smooth handle sticks up from the median in a clearing just beyond a service station, and its top is bold and bristly and dark green. It dominates the landscape so much that people slow down to gawk at it, perhaps wondering if it is the proud symbol of the gas station's restroom janitor or a grander monument to cleaner bathrooms everywhere.

The structure is a cell tower, however, dressed up with plastic and wire to look like a pine tree. But the "toilet brush" description is common usage among landscape architects when they describe the most simplistic attempts at camouflage. Some strategies to mitigate the visual impact of cell towers, they say, are a bit like the earliest cell phones themselves—clunky and awkward. Today's design professional's challenge is to bring creativity and imagination to the task of disguising cell towers, as communities across the country increasingly demand a minimal profile for the ubiquitous structures.

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