Everytime I go into a new building, I always like to check out the bathrooms whether I need to go or not. For some reason, a good bathroom just completely changes my mood when I go in. I will very often judge a building by its bathroom. I suppose it has something to do with a person being at their most vulnerable in a public place: pantless and contributing to the logging industry
I first noticed this when I started college way back when. I hate using public bathrooms, I always feel uncomfortable in there. Plus, when I go at home, the pants and everything go off so I’m unfettered and free to stretch in any direction I please. Can’t really do that in a public bathroom because of the little cracks between the doors and people looking at your feet. I imagine that I’d get odd looks from people if they didn’t see my pants curled up at my feet like how you’re supposed to.
So one warm spring afternoon, I was unable to make it home before feeling the need to answer nature’s call. I stowed away to one of the older buildings, somewhere on the 2nd or 3rd floor where I imagined that foot traffic would be less. As luck would have it, it was empty, but moreso than that the windows were open and a flowery spring breeze floated inside, obscuring the stench of chemicals and old pizza common in college bathrooms. Rays of crepuscular light seem to guide me to the stall at the end, and as I sat down I felt lighter, half from the emptying of the bowels but half from the perfect combination of coziness that exuded from that bathroom. I felt safe, warm, and secure, like I was taking a dump on an angel’s crib. Not once did I feel apprehension at some possible intruder, not once did I even think that I was in a public bathroom. It felt like home.
Ever since then, I have been checking out bathrooms in buildings I’ve visited. However, many are cold, hard, and sterile, not conductive to a good dropoff at the brownie factory. Those that felt uncomfortable and downright hostile have oddly situation stalls and urinals that was more rejecting than offering. Stalls that face down a hall or the bathroom door are especially harsh. I don’t want anyone walking in the bathroom to have an eyeline’s sight into my stall. Traffic directly in front of the stall should be as minimal as possible so as to avoid any disruptions while you’re carefully giving birth to a food baby. Of course loose doors and doors with the crack too wide are a no brainer: there simply is no excuse for such shoddy workmanship.
Janitors should take care to clean up any spill instantly. While I don’t need fresh flowers, a cologne guy, or some type of bathroom attendant (I prefer the bathroom empty of humans completely), standing puddles are a no-no. It reeks of urine and other things and puts me out of my comfort zone. The lights should not be too bright, but it should illuminate the stall, and a yellow light is much prefereable to a white one. A terrible bathroom I once visited had all the lights in the middle of the room near the sink, so that the stalls against the walls were nearly pitch black. Troughs are out: I will not use a bathroom with a trough. I am not a horse and I will not be eating in there, so get those the hell out. Speaking of which, urinals MUST have a divider between them, no exceptions. And for god sakes place them away from sight of the stalls.
Also, there should be a clear zone away from the sewage depository where one cleans up. Sinks, like urinals, should be kept away from the stalls, not next to them. Put up a wall, cone it off, whatever, just have a dividing line of some sort.
Like George from Seinfeld, I feel that the best bathroom stalls have the walls reach all the way to the floor. The most comfortable bathrooms I’ve had the pleasure of doing business in were ones in fancy hotels where the sides were actuall walls that went down to the floor. The doors were wooden, made of latticed slabs that reminds one of a small down screen door in a community that didn’t even need to lock its front doors at night. These, however, were few and far between.
Other amenities that a great bathroom has is a lack of empty space. While men don’t want to be crowded near each other when pulling their johnsons out, neither do we want to feel like we’re peeing in a large room and everyone’s staring at them. A stall or two in the corner followed by a couple of urinals squeezed near the same corner is not good placement. Use all the space. If there’s too much, put a wall in the middle of it. At no time should I feel 20 people can line up behind me even when there’s no one there.
Finally, a good bathroom needs windows. They don’t have to be big, but some kind of airflow other than from the door needs to be present. There doesn’t even need to be a breeze, just the idea of an open window is enough to make one enjoy their experience more than imagining the putried standing air hovering and mingling while one makes offerings to the porcelein god.
While it may not be fair to judge a building like this, a bathroom is about the only thing present in all buildings. It should feel like the safest, most comforable room in the entire place, and any architect worth a damn should devote enough time into it to make it great.