Posted April 15, 2013 by Scott Reed 

Restroom Planning

Several years ago, our facility planning team decided on a common goal that we wanted to have the best restrooms on campus. As research has shown that restrooms are critical in portraying an organization’s image, this goal would be incorporated into our short-term and master planning. In implementing this process, we determined that today’s student union restrooms have evolved like every other space on our campuses. Restroom components possibly meriting evolutionary change are restroom usage trends, capacity, décor changes, function, and form. With restroom updates on our short- and long-term master planning, there are several aspects to closely consider.

Several functional aspects of restrooms are areas of focus. These areas include needs such as hand drying options (paper or air dry), lighting needs, electrical outlet needs, seat protectors, toilet paper dispensers, soap dispensers, baby changing stations, and space for holding personal items while in the restroom. Though not every space can accommodate all these features, focusing on a majority of options with the right mix of location, quantity, and presence is one key to having a strong functional restroom. Other functional areas to consider are ventilation and appropriate trashcans.

Another discovery is that restrooms can take differing forms than in the past. Some of these aspects to consider include water conservation, gender-neutral needs, family needs, foot washing basins, lactation spaces, etc. These aspects can quickly change the form or footprint of your restrooms.

Aesthetics and Decor
Last year, our facility visioning team, conducted an audit on all restrooms in our facilities. Rating the areas of function and aesthetics, we developed a working list of priority improvement issues from worst to best images. The list centered on adding appropriate restroom art, counter décor, and shelves and hooks on the functional side. The needs varied per restroom as all are different sizes, shapes, and design. We are now in the final stages of implementing a plan to install these added features that often serve as stopgaps until each restroom pair falls on the capital level complete renovation list.

Maybe the biggest trend we discovered in restrooms is a strong emphasis on “touchless.” Overwhelmingly, people want to enter and leave a restroom without touching anything with their hands. Looking at hotels and airports, you can see how they have addressed these trends by having restrooms with no doors. We don’t have the luxury to knock down walls, so we have addressed this need by adding optional ADA accessibility buttons, as affordable, and we are investigating installing door tissue dispensers as well. Of course, other better known “touchless” options are faucets, urinals, toilets, towel dispensers, soap, and trashcans.

In summary, knowing that the public image of cleanliness and function of restrooms is critical for our image on campus, our team’s goal of having the best restrooms on campus is coming together with a focus on addressing need, function, form, aesthetics, and the latest trends. All are proving to be vital elements of being intentional about short and long-term restroom planning.

Scott Reed

Scott Reed is the Associate Director of Student Centers and Activities at Virginia Tech.

Scott oversees and directs services, operations, and facility management needs for four student center buildings. Through this role, he has overseen renovations, served on the campus sustainability committee, led safety planning for the union, and is currently co-chairing a facility management software transition team. A long time member and volunteer for ACUI, Scott received his bachelor’s in sports management from Western Carolina University and his master’s in kinesiology with a concentration in sports and recreation management from James Madison University.


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