black exterior of a buildingPhotos by Timothy Hursley, courtesy El Dorado

New Restroom Facility Combines Form and Function

Maintenance friendly restrooms designed to be another sculpture at Crystal

By FacilitiesNet Staff  

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, celebrates the American spirit by uniting art with nature. In addition to a permanent indoor art collection there are five miles of sculpture and walking trails.  

Upholding this mission of integrating art, architecture and nature is the museum's North Trail Biological Pavilion. Designed by El Dorado, the 1,000-square-foot facility includes restrooms, drinking fountains, seating, and maintenance facilities to support seasonal outdoor programming. However, the award-winning building is also meant to be another “sculpture” in the park with its unconventional approach to public hygienic facilities.  

Inspired by the look of Japanese lacquered bathrooms, the goal was to turn a highly pragmatic facility into a maintenance friendly, highly functional place that starts light and then becomes dark and private. Overall, the design showcases light and seasonal change — its dark interior selectively allows light in, and the experience is heightened through a focused engagement of color, sheen and reflectivity.  

However, function is just as important as form. The restrooms feature touchless faucets, soap dispensers and hand dryers to promote hygiene and cleanliness.

Showcasing cleanliness 

Since it’s a high-traffic facility, surfaces and fixtures are white everywhere cleanliness and maintenance are critical. This is contrasted by the dark black paint sheens and concrete block. 

Inside, yet outside

Reinforcing the combination of architecture and nature, windows above the commode bring in natural light, as well as views of sky and tree canopy. 

Maintenance friendly

Simple materials like painted concrete block, concrete slab, metal and glass, certified wood, make the building easier to maintain. 

Relax with a view 

The restroom facility provides drinking fountains and seating to those using the trails. The nook provides protected and private seating, but also opens up the restroom to the outdoors. 


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  posted on 3/11/2024   Article Use Policy

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