Feature Article - May 2009
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Down & Dirty

Dress Up Your Locker Rooms & Restrooms

By Richard Zowie

Material Matters

Besides using plastic lockers, the Tom Muehlenbeck Center also has implemented plastic in their restrooms. Restrooms at the center incorporate multi-height, solid-surface lavatory units.

Springs described the wave design of the lavatories as a unique look that lends itself to an aquatic facility. "We saw this outdoor area as being more playful, and the multiple counter heights also work well for the younger people that will use these sinks," he said.

This design meets Americans with Disabilities Act height requirements by merging a lower ADA-compliant sink with a standard height sink. This, no doubt, is a favorite among younger children since they don't have to stand on their tiptoes or be hoisted up to wash their hands. Also, the three-station models are flexible and can create a "wall of waves."

Besides being "groovy sinks," Fortenberry said the sinks have a very practical design. "We thought the design was very cool and modern, and the seamless design will be easier to keep clean."

The center also uses toilet partitions of solid plastic, which can easily be repaired if scratched. Graffiti can also be easily removed.

Plastic restroom fixtures are also prevalent in Dick's Sporting Goods Park, an 18,000-seat stadium that's home to Major League Soccer's Colorado Rapids.

General manager of arena operations Mike Rock said the decision to use solid plastic partitions stemmed from both cost and practical concerns. Solid plastic partitions, unlike metal, resist denting and never have to be repainted. He added, "Cost was a factor in selecting the partitions, but the overall look and delivery time was also important."

All four of the men's and women's public restrooms at the stadium have plastic partitions, as do the visiting team locker rooms. Rock joked that opposing teams tend to "take out their anger on the locker room facilities. Metal partitions can be easily dented."

At the park, they use a one-inch thick, high-density polyethylene plastic that doesn't rust, delaminate or mildew. Also, it doesn't absorb odors. The material may be more expensive than many other types of partitions, but because long-term maintenance and repair costs are lower, they provide a quick return on the investment. And, yes, if an overzealous soccer fan draws graffiti on the plastic partitions, rest assured that they wipe off easily, and scratches can be easily repaired.

Rock likes the partitions because they look "less industrial" than metal. "We liked the colors available…and the dark gray speckled texture matches the facility's décor of black, gray and silver."

Even if you're not a Colorado Rapids fan and prefer soccer teams like the orange-clad Houston Dynamo or the black-clad D.C. United, rest assured there are plenty of colors to choose from in these plastic partitions. They are also made from 30 percent post-industrial HDPE in various colors.

Once again, the key to ensuring your patrons are as pleased with your restrooms as they are with the rest of your facility is to implement a good maintenance routine, encouraging staff to do regular sweeps to check the toilet-paper and soap dispensers and ensure any problems are cleared up quickly.

It's the attention to detail—in locker rooms, restrooms and throughout your facility—that can make all the difference in the public's perception.