Feature Article - May 2010
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Behind the Scenes

Recreational Locker Rooms, Restrooms More Refined

By Kellye Whitney

"The other issue is [that] people are more phobic about touching handles and things like that. It's harder to do in a locker room situation because the amount of air and mechanical issues around showers and humidity and those sorts of things, but we definitely can do it in restroom facilities, and we're trending to do that," Bouck said. "That's more common in big-box stores as people respond to those kinds of requests and have to handle smell, sounds and, in some cases, light. Say you've got a lobby ambiance that you're trying to maintain, and then you've got this bright light in the bathroom. It's like sitting next to the kitchen in a restaurant. If you can maintain those three things you'll be good."

Because of H1N1 McKenna said more clients request that doors swing out of restrooms instead of in, so that after patrons wash their hands they don't have to pull a door handle to get out of the space.

"Instead, you can push the door with your elbow," she said. "Little things like that. The other thing is having enough space to move around in. Bathrooms are a little bit wider—the actual [bathroom] stall itself—and a little bit longer. It's easier for that door to move in and out, and to get in and out of the toilet stall.

"It used to be in larger venues [that] the women's restrooms were never large enough, and they never had enough facilities," McKenna said. "A lot of states have adapted codes that start to deal with that gender equity issue. Some states call them 'potty parity' laws. So, if you go into a brand-new professional baseball stadium, there will be a heck of a lot more women's toilets than men's because women just take longer and need the toilets."

Some of the trends McKenna, McDonald and Bouck said they observed in locker rooms and restrooms are code-driven, like the potty parity laws. But, many of them are wrought from more thoughtful, sustainable design and planning considerations for assembly or recreation facilities with the patron experience top of mind.

"Locker rooms were functional. You'd go in there, change, leave," McKenna said. "Now, the locker rooms and restrooms are as nice and getting the same level of attention as all the other spaces that they didn't get years ago."