Urinals come with a view
Remodeled rest room displays poor design
Published: Monday, November 1, 2010
Updated: Monday, November 1, 2010 15:11
Privacy is something most men are not worried about when they unzip their pants at a urinal. Whether relieving the bladder means letting go of two sips of fountain water or releasing pints of fluid on a hot day, urinating is a time of relaxation for most.
But it is hard to relax when people are watching.
Those who use the urinals in the Applied Arts Building's recently remodeled men's rest room on the first floor may instead feel rushed to finish their business once they realize they can be seen urinating from an open door into the hallway at any given moment.
Thanks to the American Disabilities Act (ADA) compliancy rules and existing problems in the rest room's structure, the urinals and the people using them are in direct line of sight for anyone walking by, district building Project Manager Burl Toler said.
"We had an existing restroom and we had to remodel it to be ADA compliant," he said. "Without the whole project finished, it was hard to spot the line of sight issue."
The architectural design error may go unnoticed until one stands in front of the urinal. The rest room has an automatic door that can be triggered open with either a push of a button or a turn on the handle.
If one person enters the rest room, another person can be seen urinating at one of the stalls approximately 10 feet from the entrance.
Although a small divider blocks visibility of the man's private area, he is vulnerable to any wandering eyes for about 14 seconds as the automatic door opens, holds and closes. If he leans or steps back, his genitalia could be visible.
Many have complained about the issue and the awkward situations it has presented.
"The door swings open and there's a guy peeing there," Academic Senate President Richard Akers said. "When you're standing there with your fly open and your unit out, you can have a conversation with someone in the hallway."
Interactive Resources Principal Senior Project Manager George Namkung was the architect put in charge of the job and said he saw no other alternative but to place the urinals in their current area.
Preexisting electrical conduits were located where the urinals were originally to be placed on the opposite wall. The conduits could have caused future problems with the plumbing system, Namkung said.
"We didn't have any other choice but to put the urinals where they are right now."
The problem is being resolved with a L-shaped wall to be placed in the hallway sometime in the next week or so, Toler said.
Until the wall is put in, many are still worried about privacy issues.
"It seems to me certain things weren't considered well with the design," Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said. "It's embarrassing. I've heard people saying ‘I'm not using that bathroom,' and I don't blame them.
"People are people. It's hard not to be a little curious when you walk by," King said.
Middle College High School Vice Principal Jennifer Crowell is also concerned about the visibility problems and the issues they can create among the population of 13-18 year olds. "Although none of the (MCHS) students have said anything, they've noticed, and it can lead to some problems," Crowell said. "I have to intentionally look away when I walk by."
Dr. Akers said he tries to make the most of his experience while visiting the facilities.
"I sing as I'm urinating," he said. "If I can make light of something, it's better than just bitching about it."
Contact Sam Attal at email@example.com.