Two case study renovation projects for inclusive facilities at Gallaudet University’s Field House: the conversion of standard back-to-back sex-segregated restrooms into an inclusive multi-user facility and the creation of inclusive changing rooms that animate the building entry.
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We are collaborating with Gallaudet University, a school for the deaf that has been addressing the needs of non-conforming people since it was authorized by Congress to grant college degrees and signed into law by Abraham Lincoln in 1864. We are working closely with a faculty committee led by two enlightened clients, Hansel Bauman and Elizabeth Brading to create inclusive restrooms and changing rooms at their sports facility, the Field House.
On the upper level of the Field House, we are working within constraints imposed by the modest footprint of existing men’s and women’s rooms to retrofit typical back-to-back sex segregated bathrooms into a multi-user facility. Both JSA and our client consider this collaboration to be a case study that will yield design principles that can be applied to similar institutional retrofit projects.
To learn more about our inclusive changing rooms, please watch this video featuring interviews with Gallaudet students.
This animation illustrates our step-by-step design process. We remove the existing plumbing stack wall and treat the bathroom as one open space. Then we eliminate the corridor wall and bathroom doors. Now the bathroom becomes a porous extension of the corridor. Next, we add two blocks of fully enclosed stalls of three sizes: standard, ambulatory and ADA-compliant, as well as caregiving rooms equipped with toilet, sink and changing tables that allow for caregiving between people of different genders. Then, we add communal grooming and washing areas off the main circulation path. Finally, our scheme adds a lounge area that activates the corridor into an animated social space. The lounge connects with a refurbished corridor activated by a series of alcoves for sipping beverages, working at laptops or face-to-face conversations that facilitate deaf signing.
BEFORE AND AFTER PLANS
On the upper level of the Field House, we are are working within constraints imposed by the modest footprint of existing men's and women's rooms, to retrofit typical sex segregated bathrooms into a multi-user facility.
STALL AS PRIVACY UNIT
Our project works within the existing footprint dictated by the typical configuration of back-to-back sex segregated restrooms. The key to our design approach is treating the toilet stall as a privacy unit. It allows us to eliminate two crucial boundaries—the wall between the men's and women's rooms as well as the corridor wall—and allows us to treat the restroom as a semi-open precinct,
ACTIVATING THE CORRIDOR
By eliminating the corridor wall, this design for the Upper Level creates a more porous spatial relationship between the bathroom and corridor, now activated by the lounge.
BEFORE AND AFTER PLANS
On the lower level of the Field House, we are creating two inclusive changing rooms. This modest assignment became an opportunity to improve the building entry sequence. We decided to locate all-gender changing rooms off main entry, treating it as a vestibule that welcomes visitors entering the building. The vestibule is equipped with a two-sided bench where students can meet, chat and remove their heavy accoutrements—coats and knapsacks. Then they can place outerwear in lockers that line the perimeter of the space before using one of the two inclusive changing rooms.
INCLUSIVE CHANGING ROOM
Our scheme elaborates what is becoming a new standard for all-gender changing rooms, a model that treats them as a single ADA-compliant room equipped with three fixtures—sink, toilet and family room. Working with a slightly expanded footprint, our proposal creates a family-sized changing room prototype for diverse users that includes seating, changing tables, dry counters for medical procedures, and a shower that also allows Muslims to perform ablutions.
The vestibule is equipped with a two-sided bench where students can meet, chat and take off their their heavy belongings—coats and knapsacks. Then they can place outwear in lockers that line the perimeter of the space before using one of the two inclusive changing rooms.
We hope the Gallaudet renovation demonstrates how the process of addressing the needs of non-compliant bodies can lead to the generation of formal innovations—in this case strategies for activating transitional circulation zones--that can improve the quality and experience of the built environment for everyone.