All-gender restrooms

Three architects discuss their experiences and challenges in a paper about moving to all-gender restrooms. The context is a university campus and the need to be inclusive of all students.

The title of the article is All-gender restrooms: embracing change in the built environment. The article includes case studies of rest room renovations. Building codes and certifiers present barriers to these inclusive designs, and they explain how they overcame them.

The authors provide several floor plans of restroom options. They advise that privacy, safety, and comfort must be kept in mind for all designs and explain a little more about this. In taking a universal design approach they advocate for bringing many voices to the table.

We recommend involving stakeholders and users through a variety of engagement strategies. That includes staff who will be responsible for the maintenance and cleaning of these spaces in the future.

All gender restroom sign. Black background with white text and icons.

The language used in relation to all-gender restrooms is as important as the architectural changes themselves. Words and identity graphics typically show gendered restrooms, so the authors recommend using neutral signage. Inclusive designs are not just about inclusion, they are also about creating a sense of belonging and of welcome.

Overview of discussion

As architects and designers, we face design challenges that are rooted in the built condition. In our collaboration with student activities professionals, the effective use of space to service, engage, and welcome the campus community is at the forefront of design and planning discussions. We must consider the social implications of our physical designs that evolve as social and cultural norms change.

The all-gender restroom has been a topic of conversation in the projects we have been designing over the last decade. This piece will help bridge the gap between student affairs practitioners and architectural designers with information and understanding of how code influences the design of all-gender restrooms. Campus communities will therefore be better prepared to advocate for building all-gender restrooms.

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