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Feature Article - September 2010

Friendly Amenities

Making Decisions About Restroom Structures

By Richard Zowie


The restrooms you'll find in public parks, golf courses and other sites where patrons occasionally need to take a potty break feature a wide variety of designs and functions. From the simple port-a-potties that can be trundled easily from one place to another to the more upscale, plumbed facilities, there is a range of possibilities, a range of aesthetics, a range of functions.

What you choose for your site will depend on your budget, your site, your patrons' needs and many other factors. Sometimes vault toilets are a necessity, while other sites may enjoy the convenience of plumbed flush facilities. Still others will want the environmental benefits of a compost toilet. Aesthetics can come into play as well, but function is usually considered before fashion.

Whatever your needs, you'll want to cover all your bases and be sure you know your stuff before you make a decision.

Restroom Aesthetics

When stepping into a restroom structure, you might expect to see hospital white or industrial gray. Often, the look inside and out depends on the area of the country where the restroom is located. Rural areas might feature restrooms with the simple requirements of toilet, urinal, sink and basic amenities like toilet paper, paper towels and hand soap. Other places feature restrooms with such bold, foreign layout and design it's as if you're seeing the future of sanitation technology.

While the look of restrooms may change depending on if you're in rural South Texas or if you're in California's Pebble Beach, one thing remains constant: Customers want well-stocked, clean restrooms. Fewer things in life are more unpleasant than using the restroom and discovering there's no hot water, or no soap, or no paper towels or, arguably worst of all, no toilet paper.

"A well designed bathroom can make all the difference in the world to someone who is unlikely to see their home for a while," said Amy Galvin, marketing coordinator for a Lawrence, Mass.-based manufacturer of composting toilets and greywater systems. "Many people expect a negative experience when using public restrooms, and when a good experience is made available, folks are pleasantly surprised."