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Best public restrooms in America

Posted by Paul Makishima, Globe Assistant Sunday Editor  October 24, 2011 12:40 PM

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Field-Museum.jpg
The loos at the Field Museum in Chicago (left) take top honors this year.

The annual contest, sponsored by Cincinnati-based Cintas Corp., a leading provider of uniforms and restroom supplies and other facilities services, is based on nominations and votes cast on the competition website. Winners get bragging rights and a plaque.

Lest you scoff about this award, which is in its 10th year, anyone who travels a good bit quickly becomes a connoisseur of public restrooms. Cleanliness and convenience are, of course, tantamount. But there are other, more aesthetic and philosophical considerations -- we are not animals, after all.

For instance, this year's winner, besides being beautifully designed, was cited for being particularly family friendly:

The women's restroom has a special nursing room with a shut door, sink, and small sofa for new mothers. The women's restroom also has a large Tot Area with smaller toilets for our littlest guests. The restrooms are also right across a Nanny Caddy filled with diapers, band-aids, wipes, etc.

smith.jpg

Homeboys that we are, I'm sure you're wondering whether a Massachusetts public facility has ever won. The answer is no. But in 2008, the lavs at the Smith College Museum of Art (right) was a finalist ("incorporate[s] functional-and permanent-works of art'') and in 2004 the Wall automatic public toilets ("comfort, hygiene, accessibility, cleanliness and security, as well as quality and design'') that were installed around Boston was a top nominee.

Photos courtesy of Field Museum (top) and Jim Gipe and the Smith College Museum of Art (bottom)


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