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September 19, 2019

What I’m Learning About Commercial Design From My Dorm Restroom

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’ve already told you a lot about my classes, but you wouldn’t believe how much I’m learning just from living in a dorm!

I knew living at college would require some adjustments. It’s my first time living in a communal space! My roommates are awesome, and the food isn’t bad, but the bathrooms? I can’t even.

You taught me there’s no use in complaining about something unless I’m willing to come up with a solution, so that’s a lesson I’m trying to apply in this situation. Besides, if I’m going to be an architect or designer someday, maybe I can use these tips to help me design whatever spaces I’ll be working on.

  1. Give showers a dry-floor changing space. Our communal showers give us two choices—get dressed in a wet stall or walk all the way back to the room in a towel. I know architects have limited space to work with, but a few square feet outside each shower would make life so much easier.
  2. Use solid-surface floors for mold prevention. Seriously, what’s the point of tiles? We haven’t even been here a month and the grout is already gross. I’d go with one of the solid-surface, nonskid floor materials that stay much cleaner.
  3. One word: “hooks.” Everyone brings their shower caddy into the shower with them and then puts the wet caddy on the countertop while they’re at the sink. It’s a mess. (I can’t imagine the guys who have to shave there!) What would it cost to mount a hook by every sink so we can hang our caddies out of the way?
  4. Combine a faucet, soap dispenser, and hand dryer in the sink. The cheap, on-deck soap bottles disappeared the first week, and the paper towel mess is horrible (if they haven’t run out, that is). I’ve seen a cool sink system with a built-in faucet, soap dispenser, and hand dryer, and that’s the first thing I’d specify if I was designing a dorm bathroom.
  5. One more word: “shelves”! My friend has a suite where four girls share a bathroom. They actually went and bought a shelving unit themselves to handle the clutter, but when I’m designing dorms, the bathrooms will have shelves built in.
  6. Install hands-free faucets. Twenty-five people using five sinks can spread a ton of germs. Automatic, touchless faucets are so much more hygienic. (Heck, we should install them at home!) Plus, I can’t believe how many people forget to turn the water off, and automatic faucets would save a lot of water by avoiding that problem altogether.
  7. Install sensor flushometers, too. Speaking of things people forget to do…
  8. Go for coated china. Not to get too gross, but OMG… the things that stick to sinks and toilet bowls. There’s a hydrophobic coating that keeps those surfaces cleaner, longer, and I’d specify it for everything.
  9. Save water whenever possible. Living with so many people has given me a reality check on how much water we actually use every day! The flushing toilets on a single Friday night could probably supply our house for a year. I’d go for hybrid urinals in the men’s bathrooms—they barely use any water at all—and dual-flush flushometers on all toilets because they use less water for liquid waste.

Wow, that’s more writing than I did for my English paper! Who knew a dormitory bathroom could be so inspiring?

Sloan technology helps educational facilities worldwide build stylish, sustainable restrooms. Want to know more? Talk to Sloan!

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