Restroom Design and Potty Parity

Kathryn Anthony of the American Restroom Association hit the front page of the New York Times recently talking about potty parity.  With spendy new ball parks opening in New York and St. Louis, the Professor of Architecture at the University of Illinois has been explaining how design can equalize wait times for men and women. “Until relatively recently, most architects, contractors, engineers, building-code officials and clients were not concerned about this issue,” Anthony is quoted as saying. “These were very male-dominated professions, and still are. They rarely contacted women about their restroom needs.”     

New York Times front pages potty parity

New York Times front pages potty parity

Next Anthony, was on NPR talking about potty parity.  In the light hearted but dead serious interview, the irrepressible Anthony shines light on female physiology, girl clothing, and the relaxed conviviality that characterizes women’s restrooms.    “Until men have menstrual periods, until men get pregnant, or until men breast-feed or have babies,” says Anthony.  “We’ll always have a need for potty parity.”  

The  USA Today has  also been following Anthony for insights into way those long lines form at women’s restrooms and what to do about it.

Jack Sim, the spirited, indefatigable founder of the World Toilet Organization (toilet crusaders tend to be fun people) then chimed in.  He’d seen an ingenious design at Japan Saitama Arena stadium.    It’s essentially an elongated room (works well in a stadium)  containing a long row of toilet stalls with a floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall movable partition in the middle.    Doors for men and women lead into the hand washing areas at either end.  The men’s end has a set of urinals between sinks and toilets.   Depending on the likely gender balance of an audience for any given event, the partition is moved to ensure potty parity.  Brilliant!

Meanwhile, PHLUSH, Portland’s public restroom advocates were dealing with reports of ongoing public urinationwithin sight of the the shining new Portland Loo.    The issue didn’t provoke a lot of  comments but one did come in from bad boy rapper Adil Omar.   You may have caught Lisa Mullin’s interview on PRI’s The World with the teenage Pakistani sensation.    Says Adil, “It’s natural, essential and a part of every boy’s growing up.”   I guess boys will be boys.  No potty parity here.  In fact, no potty.

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