Telecommunications fiber optic cabinets, a.k.a. AGFs or “Above Ground Facilities,” a.k.a. “lawn fridges” (because of their size and shape), are popping up all over urban areas lately. On one hand, they’re probably a necessary eyesore, because almost everyone is demanding better telecommunications service and increased data speeds. But on the other hand, few people would deny that they’re ugly and a blight on our visual landscape, especially in lovely residential neighborhoods and quaint retail districts. So what to do?
Some cities are starting to decorate the cabinets with colorful adhesive graphics…such as brightly colored images of fresh produce (a subtle promotion for healthy eating?), or even tromp l’oeil images of greenery similar to that found near the cabinets, to help them blend in rather than stick out like sore thumbs. Both are interesting ideas.
But we may be able to go even further. How about putting the cabinets to work for us? Their large flat sides would be perfect for maps – perhaps a very local view on one side (for example, a map of the Larchmont Blvd. retail district on a Larchmont Blvd. cabinet) and a larger area map (e.g. the Greater Wilshire area) on the other.
Both could contain “you are here” markers to assist pedestrians, bikers and even motorists with simple way-finding. And done in consistent, tasteful colors and style, they could become valuable, highly recognizable tools all across the Los Angeles landscape. Good for walkability and livability. And perhaps of little or no cost to the city, since it would make great sense to pass the costs along to the telecomm companies as a small fee for the privilege of locating their equipment in our public spaces.
Just something to think about the next time you pass a lawn fridge.