Feature Article - May 2010
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Behind the Scenes

Recreational Locker Rooms, Restrooms More Refined

By Kellye Whitney

It won't all be hearts and flowers, however. Planning improvements and making changes can present some new challenges and risks for facilities management. For instance, cabanas are larger than typical locker rooms, so planners must know how many to build to avoid slow-down as people move through them. Also, these individual rooms may need some monitoring to avoid inappropriate behavior. Facilities likely should develop policies and procedures to help minimize these kinds of risks.

"The upside is because everyone's going through the common space, these are a lot safer than before when you had alcoves with lockers and dead ends and things," Bouck said. "Sometimes it was easy for thieves to break into lockers. In this more open situation that's very difficult because everyone's walking through, so you have policing by the participants."

Further, space planning, humidity controls and other more tactical concerns are critical, especially when the locker room is attached to a pool.

"The mechanical system needs to be designed so that the natatorium or the pool area is the most negative space in the building," McDonald said. "The next negative pressure would be the locker rooms. The fitness and dry use areas of the building should be under a slightly positive pressure. That way you're constantly drawing a little bit of dry air into your locker room and out into the pool, which is then dehumidifying or exhausting that air. If the opposite happens where moist, humid warm air from the pool comes into the locker room, you experience the chlorine smell, and the humidity can damage fixtures and surfaces and things like that."

McDonald said clients increasingly ask for more elbow room in a locker room, which might mean maintaining ample clearance between the front of the vanity counter and wall or the nearest obstruction behind so that people can stand comfortably at the vanity and have people circulate easily behind them.

"Also, typically, men require a few more lavatories because they're shaving and need more sink space, whereas the women are prepping in front of the mirrors so they need more vanity and counter space, and then don't forget the full-length mirror in both locker rooms," he said.

Today, many clients don't want doors on restrooms, which means that air ventilation systems have to be up to snuff to ensure no sounds or smells make their way into the facility.