In college, I got a little tired of how gross bathrooms on campus were. It became my mission to find the best bathrooms on campus so I knew where to go when I had to go. I eventually got a bit obsessive and tried to rank them all by cleanliness, ambiance, privacy, technology, accessibility, and a few other arbitrary ranking items. I used one of the school’s newspapers to broadcast my findings and became known as “That Guy Who Wrote That Bathroom Article” by many of my professors. Late last week, we noticed an article from KPCC on how the Hollywood Bowl may have one of the best public restrooms in America. Is it really that great? What’s so fab about it? When we went to the Hot Chip show this past weekend, we were sure to check out the bathrooms. Let’s break things down…
The contest is being run by business supply company Cintas. It has been running since 2002 and this year has ten finalists vying for the top spot. The Hollywood Bowl’s inclusion is this year’s only Los Angeles entry (and seemingly the only LA entry of all time), which is accompanied by fellow Californian Gitane Restaurant in San Francisco. The bathroom was renovated by Rios Clementi Hale Studios and is the first bathroom renovation in over thirty years. It apparently cost three million dollars to accomplish and is intended to be the opposite of the formerly “dark, dreary” rooms. They’re also designed to prevent long lines. As you can see below, the bathrooms are black, white, and a bright green. It is “Art Deco inspired,” surprising for a large scale job (the modern urinals somehow help carry that architectural theme over, too). The design is a reflection of the Bowl and its surroundings, which you can tell from the curving lines and shapes and the green color (which “match[es] to the Toyon tree, a plant native to Southern California and found around the Bowl”). It also has state-of-the-art amenities like Dyson Airblades.
While at the Bowl, we peeked into the restroom on our way to the snackbar. I intended to take photos but realized in the moment that taking photos inside of a restroom as people were using it was creepy and uncomfortable. Thus, we just used the facilities. The urinals in the ‘room were nice and are those fancy, pod-like urinals that don’t use any water. The toilets were toilets. Everything was very clean and crisp and incredibly bright. The sink area was likely the best part as the design of the hand washing area (there’s a nice geometric grating that is fed into by a triangular troth) and accompanying technology was pretty pleasant. The water was cold and the automatic faucet head would only give you two seconds of water to use before having to signal it again. I also don’t remember seeing any Airblades, which I would remember seeing as any encounter with an Airblade is one I cherish. When we left (and as you can see at top), there was a forming line for the women’s facility.
Let’s dig into critique, shall we? Most important: it was very clean. At the tail end of a very busy show in such a large setting, you can only ask to not be stepping in pee pee and poo poo or other grossnesses. There was none of that! The ambiance is nice (refreshing, shiny, very “Sunny California”) but it may be a little too bright. Not that you want a bathroom to be dark but I felt like the lights were shining into my soul as I took a wee. The character lines (black on the ceiling, some white on the walls) with the circular mirrors and lights were clever and complimentary to the space. For its size, it was private and–a big thing–loud. They were playing the concert and there was enough people moving around that you couldn’t tell if someone was making flatulent melodies in a stall. The technology is all there: all the toilets/urinals were super green, automatic, and approachable as was the sink area. My only beef is that we didn’t have an Airblade. (I cross referenced with my Bathroom Buddies and they did not see an Airblade either.) The bathroom is available to many and lives up to its Bowl influence. It is a nice public restroom.
Should it win first place in the Cintas contest? Maybe. It is a good facility! It also has to be noted that it services so many people: for a venue that can hold 18K people, it felt intimate and special. There are only two other large scale facilities up for the prize (Walker Art Center, Lane Stadium) which speaks to just how nice of a job the Bowl did. The look of it is certainly the most clean and contemporary out of the lot because so many are blasé suburban, too tied up in adhering to a theme to be good. The bottom line is that you should vote for the Hollywood Bowl for having the best toilet bowl housing area because it is well done. It really was pleasant! The three million dollars spent on rehabbing it was definitely not flushed away.