Restrooms; they come by many names.
- Bathroom is interchangeable with restroom
- Public toilet or public lavatory
- Public loo (less formal Aussie version)
- Comfort room (C.R.)
- There are single compartment restrooms
- Multiple fixture restrooms
- And coming on to the market are gender-neutral or unisex restrooms. These were introduced as the single compartment variety, but are now showing up as multiple fixture restrooms that are not gender specific in terms of signage or usage; more so in Europe than state side. You no longer have to worry that you accidentally walked into the wrong restroom.
So how do these hygienic areas of refuge come into being through the construction process? We have been watching the Visitor Center slowly evolve from a dirt site to steel rising to being enclosed with walls. The restrooms have been part of that evolution and progress at the job site but we haven’t specifically zeroed in on those areas of the building.
So as the building slowly evolved, some of the first construction items to do with restrooms were under floor plumbing. These consisted of sanitary sewer lines and gray water collection lines. These are the lines that carry off waste water to the city sewer treatment plant or to our own internal gray water treatment plant depending on which fixture the waste comes from. Those fixtures that contribute to the gray water are sinks, showers and drinking fountains. And those fixtures that feed waste water directly to the city sanitation system are toilets and urinals.
Once the under floor plumbing was in place and stubbed up through the ground, the next activity that occurred was the pouring of the concrete slab on grade. Our grade is stair stepped so we have restrooms on both the lower level and the upper level. The lower level being the office level consisting of 2 single compartment restrooms, one men’s and one women’s, and a shower facility that is partially related to a LEED credit. The restrooms on the upper grade level are the larger public men’s and women’s restrooms, the kitchenette, janitor closet and the drinking fountains.
After the slabs are poured, not a lot happens in the restroom areas until the interior partitions begin to appear. When partitions begin to rise from the floor slabs to the structure above, it signals the opportunity for the plumbers to come in and extend the plumbing into the wall cavities; sewer lines from below and water lines from above consisting of hot water, cold water and gray water that will feed the variety of fixtures in each restroom.
The restrooms are a part of several LEED credits. One of those being water conservation which shows up in 2 areas; low flow / low consumption fixtures and the fact that certain waste water is being feed into the gray water system. Another credit is providing a shower for those individuals who chose to ride bicycles to and from work as well as during the work day.
Plumbing rough-in continues to the point of having fixture carriers that will hold up water closets and urinals along with plumbing lines that will stub through the walls. Once this rough-in is all in place, the wall trade shows up and they will begin to enclose the walls with gypsum wall board (sheet rock). On the restroom side where we have wet walls (walls with plumbing fixtures); we utilize a water-resistant sheet good that will be behind the tile in these west areas. There will be cut outs for the roughed in piping to stick through the wall board surface.
The next thing you will see as the project moves further down the road are the tile setters showing up on the project. They will begin to install the wall tile and eventually the floor tile. In the days ahead, we will be seeing the plumbing fixtures installed along with the final plumbing line connections to the fixtures. That will be followed by the installation toilet partitions that divide the toilet compartments and finally the finish floor which is typically the last thing in the restroom areas.