A bad example of a restroom
We get around and see a lot of design work. It is kind of an occupational hazard critiquing buildings and designs that we visit. We just can’t help ourselves. Of course, since our specialty is dental office design we tend to pay even more attention in dental offices than in other types of businesses and be especially critical of bad design in these facilities.
The one room we see the most problems in is the restroom. The International Commercial Codes and Americans with Disabilities Act are fairly clear on what constitutes proper accessible design for restroom facilities. They lay out the differences for shared facilities, single user facilities, and multiple user facilities. These codes dictate everything from spacing from walls to toilets and sinks, the distance between these items, the height of mirrors, the height of lights and light switches, the placement of paper towel and toilet paper dispensers, and the clearance for door swing. The biggest challenge for the designer is to create a restroom that meets all of the codes and still has some design aesthetic and doesn’t just come off as a big box. So, why do people get this room so wrong?
Take, for example, the sink photo we’ve posted here. The sink is too close to the wall, the soap and towel dispensers are too close to the sink and the waste basket is in the way to even access the sink. Of course, the placement of the wastebasket isn’t something the designer has any control over. Trust me when I say we’ve revisited clients who have filled up the clear access space in their restrooms with waste baskets, storage cabinets, and even just decorations. The clear floor space is there so people in wheelchairs can maneuver in the restroom. It isn’t just because we designers like large restrooms and open space.
We would hope that there aren’t any dentists out there that would tolerate short cuts or shoddy craftsmanship from their staff when it comes to working on patients’ teeth. So, why do they accept such work from their designers and contractors that build their offices? We hope it isn’t because they are just hiring the cheapest possible firms to do their work.