Student Newswire of The University of Arizona School of Journalism

Arizona Sonoran News

Arizona Sonoran News

Student Newswire of The University of Arizona School of Journalism

Arizona Sonoran News

    Hiding in Plain Sight


    Cell phones are everywhere. In the 21st century, a dead cell phone signal has become nearly unacceptable. Cell phone towers provide a clear answer.

    But they also created a problem—a problem that many have taken to calling “visual pollution”. Few consider cell phone towers easy on the eyes.

    Fortunately, companies such as Larson Camouflage have developed a few decidedly deciduous solutions.

    Pew Internet reports that 27% of adults in the US own an internet-connected smart phone, and research conducted by the CTIA Wireless Association claims that 45% of businesses can’t function without a wireless signal.

    In Tucson alone, there are over 60 cell phone towers, each helping provide full signal bars to individuals and businesses alike.

    The revolution began in 1992 when Larson Camouflage, LLC created the first mono-pine, a radical new solution to cell phone tower “visual pollution” in the guise of an evergreen.

    But Larson didn’t stop there. Today, their range of products display leaves of all shapes and sizes: palm, elm, cypress, and especially the staple of Southwestern Arizona, the saguaro.

    Larson has gone so far as to design cell tower components housed within individual palm fronds and pine branches, all in an effort to create more natural-looking camouflage. They have even subjected their creations to the fury of wind tunnels, and their artificial greenery is said to withstand a temperature range of -50 to 180* Fahrenheit.

    Larson Camouflage is, unsurprisingly, an offshoot of the Larson Themed-Construction Company. Even without the shared name, the connection could easily be made based on the company’s pedigree. Over 30 years ago, the Larson Company revolutionized the technology and methodology needed to create articifial rock. Sadly, the once prodigious company has since been dismantled and sold.

    “It was a neat place to work,” says Sandra Saufley of the parent company.

    Saufley worked with the company decades ago, when it was in the middle of a big project: creating the faux rock in the Central Park Zoo. It was the Larson Company that pioneered the process for creating fake rock, and their breakthrough resulted in contracts that spanned the globe. Contracts were quickly drafted for Larson to oversea the rock designs for aquiariums in Japan and the United Arab Emirates.

    Today, Larson Camouflage is hard at work improving their already intricate designs, and some of their developments have moved away from a natural aesthetic. Their designs now include flagpoles and working street lamps, water towers and church belfries. Larson Camouflage has even begun designing cell tower concealment as architectural art. The company has even begun experimenting with the bark on their trees.

    But even though cutting down the “visual pollution” is their cause for business, Larson Camouflage’s mission statement revolves around a challenge of creativity.

    “You think it, we’ll create it,” they proudly say.

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