Greatest Hits of '07: The Great Public Restroom Debate

As we near year's end, we're re-posting a few heavily commented-upon posts from earlier in 2007. Here's one of our favorites, from September. This post also inspired my all-time favorite negative comment (#12).

I've never been in a great public restroom. I was under the impression they were all basically disgusting, with varying levels of nastiness.

Apparently, I've been going in all the wrong places.

Cintas, a company that sells corporate restroom supplies, has been naming America's Best Restrooms since 2001. This year's winner: Jungle Jim's International Market in Fairfield, Ohio.

Considering my grocery store does not have public restrooms, I'm impressed. And that's just the outside.

Here's the America's Best Restroom write-up: "Jungle Jim's International Market is approximately 300,000 square feet of shopping ingenuity - it has Amish food, a cheese shoppe, garden center, international cuisine, cooking classes and eight aisles of pet supplies to name a few. And in the heart of it all, you'll find that Jungle Jim's famous restrooms stop shoppers dead in their tacks. Talk about bathroom humor -- the entrance doors are actual port-o-lets. Unsuspecting shoppers patiently wait their turn until they see three or four people exiting. Upon opening the door they discover a gigantic, modern restroom within. Truly a luxurious port-o-potty - Jungle Jim's style!"

Here are some other bathrooms you'd be lucky to find across the country.

Waffle House of America
Lawrence, Michigan
Fifth Place, 2004
wafflehouse1.jpg"Guests are greeted with soothing piano music and your eyes are quickly drawn to the focal point of the room, a beautiful hand-painted vanity. The bathroom stalls have a crackled paint finish and even the toilet seats are hand painted with roses. A panoramic mural of painted clouds surrounds the stalls to complete the outdoor garden atmosphere. No expensive contractors of decorators turned this bathroom into such a treasure. It was lovingly created with help from craft magazines, Mom and ideas from the Discovery Channel."

Wall City Toilet
Boston, Massachusetts
Third Place, 2004

"During ten years of development and engineering, Wall's team took onto consideration comfort, hygiene, accessibility, cleanliness and security, as well as quality and design. The result: the world's smallest footprint for a self-cleaning, fully automatic toilet. The ergonomic design and technological conveniences of Wall's automatic public toilet create and amenity that allows all individuals, regardless of disability, to meet their needs in an easy and efficient manner."

Yavneh Day School
Cincinnati, Ohio
Fourth Place, 2003
schoolbathroom.jpg "We used a picket fence/bird house theme. All items were donated by employees. A selection of potpourri , sprays and lotions are arranged on a charming shelf. The idea for the bathroom was from our elementary school principal, Dr. Susan Moore. It has picket fence wallpaper, a shelf with bird houses, a green mirror, flowers, and even a bird house light switch cover!"

Art Chicks
artchicks.JPGLouisville, Nebraska
Second Place, 2004
"The Art Chicks bathroom is always super-dooper clean and has all the things a 'chick' would need - great soap, hand lotion, double ply Charmin Bath tissue, feminine hygiene supplies, hairspray and, of course, a great mirror."

Lee Davis Texaco
Mechanicsville, Virginia
Fifth Place, 2001-02
leedavistexaco.gif "Both the men's and women's restrooms are decorated with a touch of warmth from home. Different from being the gas station type restrooms with plain walls, a sink and a toilet, we want people to feel at home and welcome. There are pictures on the walls and rugs on the floor. The women's bathroom has flowers and the men's bathroom has plants to make them more decorated."

University of Notre Dame, Main Building
South Bend, Indiana
First Place, 2002
notredame.gif"The restrooms in the Main Building have Stovax Victorian tile floors (imported from England). The main door to all restrooms is refinished in their original glory of stained wood. Interior partition doors are finished solid oak mounted to marble finished partitions. Drinking fountains are inside a partitioned portion of the restroom. Faucets on sinks are designer accented with chrome and brass. Counters are built in for diaper changing and/or for luggage/bags. The lighting is classical 1800s style lighting suspended from the ceiling in reflector bowls."

(Any Notre Dame students or alums care to weigh in? Should the bathrooms be on the campus tour?)

This might be a loaded question in light of the Larry Craig scandal, but have you ever had a great experience in a public restroom? Tell us about it, or nominate that john for next year's trophy.

Pop Chart Lab
150 Northeast Lighthouses in One Illustrated Poster
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

Some of the world's most beautiful and historic lighthouses can be found in the American Northeast. Now, Pop Chart Lab is releasing an illustrated poster highlighting 150 of the historic beacons dotting the region's coastline.

The 24-inch-by-36-inch print, titled "Lighthouses of the Northeast," covers U.S. lighthouses from the northern tip of Maine to the Delaware Bay. Categorized by state, the chart features a diverse array of lighthouse designs, like the dual towers at Navesink Twin Lights in New Jersey and the distinctive red-and-white stripes of the West Quoddy Head Light in Maine.

Framed poster of lighthouses.
Pop Chart Lab

Each illustration includes the lighthouse name and the year it was first lit, with the oldest lighthouses dating back to the 1700s. There's also a map in the upper-left corner showing the location of each landmark on the northeast coast.

Chart of lighthouses.
Pop Chart Lab

The poster is now available to preorder for $37, with shipping set to start March 21. After memorizing every site on the chart, you can get to work exploring many of the other unique lighthouses the rest of the world has to offer.

ICON, New Story
These $10,000 Concrete Homes Are 3D-Printed in Less Than 24 Hours
ICON, New Story
ICON, New Story

What makes housing so expensive? Labor costs, for one. According to a 2014 Census Bureau survey, the average single-family home takes about six months to construct, and that's a lot of man-hours. A new type of home from Austin, Texas-based startup ICON and the housing nonprofit New Story is hoping to change that. Their homes can be built from the ground up in 12 to 24 hours, and they cost builders just $10,000 to construct, The Verge reports.

ICON's construction method uses the Vulcan 3D printer. With concrete as the building material, the printer pipes out a structure complete with a living room, bedroom, bathroom, and porch that covers 600 to 800 square feet. That's a little less than the size of the average New York apartment and significantly larger than a typical tiny home.

The project, which was revealed at this year's SXSW festival in Austin, isn't the first to apply 3D printing to home construction. Moscow, Beijing, and Dubai are all home to structures assembled using the technology. What makes ICON and New Story's buildings remarkable is what they intend to do with them: Within the next 18 months, they plan to set up a community of 100 3D-printed homes for residents of El Salvador. If that venture is successful, the team wants to bring the printer to other places in need of affordable housing, including parts of the U.S.

ICON wants to eventually bring the $10,000 price tag down to $4000. The 3D-printed houses owe their affordability to low labor costs and cheap materials. Not only is cement inexpensive, but it's also sturdier and more familiar than other common 3D-printed materials like plastic. The simple structure also makes the homes easy to maintain.

“Conventional construction methods have many baked-in drawbacks and problems that we’ve taken for granted for so long that we forgot how to imagine any alternative,” ICON co-founder Jason Ballard said in a release. “With 3D printing, you not only have a continuous thermal envelope, high thermal mass, and near-zero waste, but you also have speed, a much broader design palette, next-level resiliency, and the possibility of a quantum leap in affordability."

After printing and safety tests are completed, the first families are expected to move into their new 3D-printed homes sometime in 2019.

[h/t The Verge]


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