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Volume 20 No. 42
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Building designers see the differences

Planning rest rooms gets into the psyche of how men and women approach nature’s calling.

Men have no problem crowding next to each other inside the rest room waiting in line for open urinals and stalls. By comparison, women tend to stop at the entrance to the rest room and wait until a toilet door opens before entering. They give each other privacy and don’t have the habit of looking under the stall door to see if it is occupied. As a result, lines often form stretching out to the concourse.

Design firm Generator Studio provided this illustration to show how men and women approach the rest rooms, with men crowding inside and women waiting at a distance.
That’s among the findings by sports architect James Poulson, a principal with Aecom in Kansas City, who studied the issue after the topic of “We need more women’s rest rooms” kept popping up.

To adapt to women’s rest room etiquette and cut down on concourse congestion, Poulson designed rest rooms at CenturyLink Field in Seattle nestled behind concession stands. The layout provides a 20-foot corridor with enough “stacking space” to keep lines from causing bottlenecks in the concourse. Aecom designed the same setup on the renovated plaza level at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans.

The differences in usage is also playing out in Tampa, where the Lightning is eliminating rest rooms in 49 of the 52 suites on the upper level at the St. Pete Times Forum. Removing those toilets will free up more space to entertain in the suites, said Tom Proebstle, a principal with Generator Studio designing the improvements.

To replace those lavatories, the architect is designing group rest rooms down the hall for men and women. For women, it’s a welcome change.

“Women in general don’t like toilets in the suites,” Proebstle said. “It’s something we’ve known for a long time. For men, half the time the bathroom door isn’t locked, and women hate that. When women use the rest room, they feel like people are watching them and they have to sneak in there.”

Potty parity

The International Plumbing Code requires that architects use 50 percent men and 50 percent women as the starting point

in determining the number of fixtures required. However, additional potty parity is built into the code because stadium designers and code officials recognize that women’s use of toilets is different than men’s use. For example, under guidelines for stadiums:

Male toilets: 1/75 for first 1,500 male occupants, then 1/120 for remainder exceeding 1,500.

Female toilets: 1/40 for first 1,500 female occupants, then 1/60 for remainder exceeding 1,500.