Feature Article - September 2011
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Last Things First

Trends in Restroom Structures

By Rick Dandes

Features that qualify the Kellogg Park unisex restroom as a prototype for parks and beaches nationwide include architectural plans and design elements that provide:

  • Maximum function in minimum space resulting in preservation of precious park space, significantly smaller building providing increased availability and more function per square foot with an overall reduction in cost.
  • Ease of maintenance resulting from minimal size of the building, a plumbing chase providing easy access for plumbing and electrical repairs, commercial hardware and penal ware fixtures improving durability and longevity, fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) doors that don't rust or warp, anti-graffiti coating on the interior and exterior of the building, lighting fixtures inside the plumbing chase that cannot be accessed or damaged from inside the stalls, well designed and adequate number of toilet paper holders, and hooks so purses, towels and clothes don't end up on the floor.
  • Ease of accessibility to the restrooms, sinks and showers for persons with disabilities.
  • Improved safety—access to each lighted stall is from the outside, allowing the user to check occupancy of the stall before entering. It also allows a parent to ensure the safety of their child while using the restroom.
  • Unisex/ADA/Family restrooms facilitate the needs of parents with infants, fathers with daughters, mothers with sons and disabled persons with or without caregivers of same or opposite sex.
  • Sinks on the exterior of the building minimize the amount of time spent in each stall, eliminate concerns about germs on door handles contacted after washing hands, limit vagrancy and other illicit behaviors that tend to occur in stalls that contain sinks.
  • Showers, upper and foot, located on the exterior ocean-side wall of the building allow easy access and maximum availability.
  • Aesthetic value blends the restroom with its surroundings, expressing sensitivity to views of homeowners and hotel guests.
  • Hand dryers, plumbing fixtures, doors and anti-graffiti coatings discourage vandalism.
  • Improved traffic flow.
  • Increased availability.
  • Unisex stalls that improve traffic flow especially for women as all stalls are available for both sexes. Also note that this design allows Parks & Recreation to close individual stalls in need of repairs and half the stalls during the winter season for a significant cost savings without inconveniencing the users.

The La Jolla Shores project, Coakley pointed out, "also illustrates that although designing restrooms may not be a high status commission for an architect, if well conceived, the final product can not only serve its users well, but it can become a site-specific work of art."