portland-loo

I have been writing about the fact that Vancouver has a dearth of public washrooms in downtown areas and also along the major transit routes.

Let’s talk about  Portland’s success in not only getting their very own designed bathroom available to the public, but one so cool it even has its own patent. And this is nothing new, Portland was busy installing their fifth public washroom in 2012, customized with art by students in a local primary school.  You can see the YouTube of the official unveiling of the Portland Loo below.

The design process for this washroom as outlined in CityLab was unique in that Portland looked at other municipalities’ public toilets and realized that the privacy of them allowed for “nefarious” activities to occur in them.

“We really looked at Seattle as what not to do,” says Anna DiBenedetto, a staff assistant to city commissioner Randy Leonard, the spiritual godfather of the Portland Loo. “We think it was the design that was the fatal flaw. Trying to be comfortable and private makes people feel more empowered to do the illegal activities that people do in public toilets.”

Portland had a “Loo Squad” 13 years ago with one goal~” to forge an interior design that would make tinklers want to get out of there as fast as humanly possible.”

The first Portland loo was installed in 2008 in the Old Town-Chinatown area. It is still there, still functioning. The secret to the success of the Portland loo design is as follows:

-no running water, just a spout on the exterior that pours cold water;

-no mirror, as mirrors get vandalized;

-openings at the top and bottom of the Portland loo so that it is not completely private, ensuring that pedestrians and police know if someone is in there.

Add in a graffiti resistant finish and stainless steel walls and doors and the Portland loo is complete. The cost for the first washroom was $140,000 USD, but is now about $90,000. Maintenance is pegged at $1,000 per month per location.

From the first flush of the Portland loo the design has been wildly successful and has been installed in Victoria B.C and in Smithers B.C. In fact in 2012 the Portland loo in Victoria was deemed to be the best public washroom in Canada and the Victoria Mayor was “flushed with pride”.

You just can’t make this stuff up.

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