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Public Garden’s Loos Lead the Land

Monday, November 24, 2014

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In the battle of the bathrooms, the lush thrones of Longwood Garden outside Philadelphia now wear the crown.

The facilities inside the U.S.'s most-visited public garden have won the top prize in the latest “America’s Best Restroom” competition.

The winning loos boast a 14-foot-tall, 300-foot-long green wall as well as etched translucent glass in each potty.

Longwood Gardens
Longwood Gardens

Toilets are hidden behind the largest indoor green wall in North America.

Now in its 13th year, the restroom contest hosted by Cintas—a Cincinnati-based supplier of restroom hygiene products and services—honors the most exceptionally designed restrooms in the country.

The contest attracted thousands of online votes. Americans chose Bowl Plaza in Lucas, KS, as the No. 2 place to go. The "Fabulous" Fox Theatre in St. Louis, MO, took third place.

The bathrooms were judged for style, hygiene, public accessibility and usability, Cintas said.

A 'Must See' Loo

“We are so pleased to receive the America’s Best Restroom award,” said Longwood Gardens’ Chief Marketing Officer Marnie Conley.

“Longwood Gardens is about beautiful horticulture, being a good steward to our environment, and providing an extraordinary experience for our more than one million guests each year.”

“The [green] wall has become a ‘must-see’ destination for our guests, many of whom may have never seen a green wall before and are curious about how we care for it,” she said.

“It’s the only restroom with its own docents!”

Descriptions of the top three finalists flow below.

First Place: Longwood Gardens (Philadelphia, PA)

The public restrooms at Longwood Gardens are part of the largest indoor green wall in North America. Designed by British landscape architect Kim Wilkie, the wall contains 47,000 plants and was installed in 2010.

Aside from the restrooms’ lush greenery, the loos feature domed, naturally lit lavatory cabinets hidden within the green wall. In addition, each restroom contains etched translucent glass at the top of the dome to provide natural light, reduce electricity and minimize the need for light fixtures.

Longwood Gardens
Longwood Gardens

Etched translucent glass at the top of the dome provides natural light for each restroom at Longwood Gardens.

Longwood Gardens traces its roots to the famed du Pont family and has become preeminent for its collection of plant life.

Second Place: Bowl Plaza (Lucas, KS)

The Bowl Plaza is a public restroom facility shaped like a toilet.

Opened in 2012, the community project—built to provide handicapped-accessible restrooms—features an array of mosaic wall art, including colored bottles, broken pottery, dishes, tiles, toys and mirrors.

Bowl Plaza
Bowl Plaza

The Bowl Plaza in Lucas, KS, features mosaic art created by members of the community.

The 14-foot mosaic oval lid and a toilet bowl “drain” depicts swirling water with items that people have accidentally dropped into the toilet bowl.

Thus far, 10,000 people have visited Bowl Plaza from all 50 states and 50 countries.

Third Place: The Fox Theatre (St. Louis, MO)

Stately and elegant define the restrooms inside The Fox Theatre (known locally as "The Fabulous Fox") in St. Louis.

Fox Theatre
The Fox Theatre

The bathrooms at The Fox Theatre in St. Louis, MO, captured third place.

Not only are the restrooms ornate; their outer lounges dazzle patrons, too. The lounges feature decorative carpets and pastel pink walls while the restrooms have black-and-white checkered floors and sleek black countertops.

The Fox Theatre is the work of renowned architect C. Howard Crane and first opened in 1929 as a movie palace.

Today, the venue hosts touring Broadway shows, concerts, comedians and other live performances.

Remaining Finalists, Prizes

The remaining finalists were:

  • El Centro in Washington, D.C.;
  • The Grove in Los Angeles;
  • Mai Kai Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale, FL;
  • Plums Café in Costa Mesa, CA;
  • Tiki Lounge in Pittsburgh, PA;
  • Trail Restroom in Austin, TX; and
  • American Girl Place in Chicago.

Longwood Gardens received the coveted “America’s Best Restroom” plaque of recognition and a $2,500 credit to spend on Cintas services.

The top three finalists also received a complimentary deep clean of their restroom (valued up to $500), Cintas said.


Tagged categories: Contests; Designers; Green walls; Landscape architects; Trends

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