Top 10 Trends In Recreation Restrooms

Photos Courtesy of TMP Architecture, Inc.

Photos Courtesy of TMP Architecture, Inc.

While beautiful, updated fitness equipment, a newly finished gym floor, a bright welcome desk, or a spacious running track are certainly exciting changes for a new or renovated recreation center, what consideration has been given to the less-glamorous amenities of restrooms and changing stations? These spaces see the most traffic in the facility, and their condition can leave a lasting impression with guests. The following list outlines ideas for when your facility’s restrooms are in need of some TLC or even a complete overhaul: 

1. Location, Location, Location

The restrooms’ locations should be intuitive, and placed where guests might expect them. Signage should be obvious and visible from the open spaces of the fitness areas, for example. Placing restrooms well within the code-mandated distance of 400 feet of an activity area will provide a shorter path for all, particularly helpful for senior users and those with wheelchairs. Because restrooms’ loud flushes and hand-dryers can be disruptive to visitors and staff, an acoustic separation should be considered to minimize noise pollution. 

2. Materials: Rough And Tough

Because restroom stalls and other nooks are often hidden from view, they can, unfortunately, be the target of mischief. Ceramic tiles with special epoxies are a solid choice, as they can withstand markers and other graffiti, as well as a facility’s daily cleaning regimen. In general, designers should specify durable materials that can be easily wiped clean. Graffiti-resistant walls and fixtures can still be aesthetically pleasing, though, with the use of non-traditional color and pattern choices. Since a restroom is separated from the center’s main areas, it doesn’t need to blend in a strict design sense. Here, there is more freedom for designers to present a cheerful atmosphere with unique finishes and bright colors, where the rest of the center may be presented in more subdued hues. 

3. Look! Don’t Touch!

With a growing concern about hygiene, new concepts in restroom design are emerging. Doors that can be pushed out from the inside with a hip or arm prevent the user from touching a door’s surface or grasping a handle. For those who wish to use a hand towel to grasp the door on exiting the restroom, a receptacle for disposal can be conveniently placed. If a door needs to be installed so that it swings into the restroom, hands-free attachments can be installed at the base of the door, allowing users to simply open it with their foot instead (see figure 1). Special hygienic door handles exist that allow users to open the door with a forearm, avoiding the use of hands, which tend to spread germs easily (see figure 2). Even in-stall feminine-product receptacles and trash receptacles are available with hands-free options as well.  

4. Countertops And Sinks And Soap, Oh My!

Plastic laminate countertops–once popular in recreation-center restrooms–are now considered outdated for a few reasons: These surfaces tend to de-laminate over time, daily cleaning can distort the color, and they are susceptible to chips and scrapes. A busy restroom needs a solid-surface countertop with clean edges and few or no ridges, which tend to accumulate dirt, mold, and mildew. Caulked areas, too, are magnets for mold and mildew, and should be minimized. Choose integrated sink/counters that make for an easier, more effective cleaning program. Sensor-activated plumbing and soap dispensers not only minimize the spread of germs, but also require fewer moving parts, which translates into ease of maintenance. 

5. Hand Dryers: A Lot Of Hot Air

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