Field Trip :: New Bathrooms in 320!

Stainless steel sink with red and grey tile work - Photos by Ian Hester

By Ian Hester, BArch Candidate

Throughout the 2012-2013 school year, 951 Boylston was the center of action for new construction at the BAC. However, this year 320 Newbury St. is garnering attention with a hidden gem: the new bathrooms in the basement.

The new bathrooms, which were designed by Silverman Trykowski Associates and built by Commodore Builders, were constructed in a different location than their predecessors because the geothermal well piping (part of the project in the alley) enters the building foundation there. Art Byers, Associate Vice President of Facilities at the BAC, has explained that in the future a manifold will be installed there to direct the pipes to equipment such as heat pumps.

Yellow trim running along the floor and continuing up the wall

One of the most challenging elements in constructing the new bathrooms was digging up the basement floor. This needed to be done to be able to place a check valve on the main sewer line, which prevents the overflow of storm water into the building.

Detail of the tile work around the sink

The most striking and successful visual feature of the bathrooms is arguably the materiality. The stainless steel surfaces, grey tile work, and colored tile trim harmoniously combine to create a sleek look.

Recessed lighting above the stall

Unlike many bathrooms, the lighting is quite comfortable. The LED lights, especially the soft diffused light that emanates from above the stalls, are much nicer than the harsh fluorescent bulbs that are sometimes still used these days. To save energy, the lights are turned on and off by an occupancy sensor mounted in the ceiling.

Sensor operated air dryer

The sensor operated sinks, soap dispensers, and air dryers each augment the energy conservation in addition to creating a sanitary environment by eliminating the need to touch surfaces after using the bathroom. Art Byers has noted that low flow flushometers will be installed in the future, and that if the hand dryers are well received by the BAC community then the school will likely look to phase out paper towels to increase sustainability efforts.

Spacious stall with hand rails
Although they are not the most glamorous features of a building, many of us will be designing bathrooms in one way or another at some point in our careers. The difference between a well designed bathroom and a poorly designed bathroom is immense, so draw a quick sketch or make a mental note when you notice a well designed feature in a bathroom.

The next time you have a few minutes to kill in 320, go down to the basement and check out the new bathrooms to see what you think. Please note that they are in a different location than the old ones that were closed last semester. If you take the elevator, turn right in the hallway and they will be on your right. If you take the northern stairwell, turn left at the bottom of the staircase and go down the hallway past the elevator; the bathrooms will be on your right.

Thanks to Art Byers for providing behind the scenes information on the design and construction of the new bathrooms.