Take a walk, take a rest...

James Forryan
Thursday 27 Aug 2009

An innovative take on the humble public convenience

The Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail is a linear park of scenic trails and landscaping that winds its way along the banks of the Colorado River in downtown Austin. The park, very popular among runners and bike riders, provides residents and visitors with a rural escape in an urban setting. The Restroom -the first public restroom built in the park in over 30 years- was built by the Town Lake Trail Foundation, a community-based non-profit organisation, in partnership with the city's Parks and Recreation Department.

The Restroom was conceived as a sculpture in a park, a dynamic object along the active trails. It consists of forty-nine 3/4" thick vertical Corten steel plates whose width and height vary significantly in size, from 1'-0" wide by 1'-6" high to 2'-0" wide by 13'-0" high. The panels are arranged forming a spine that coils at one end to form the restroom walls. The plates are staggered in plan to control views and to allow penetrating light and fresh air. Both the door and roof were fabricated from 3/4" thick steel plates as well.

The restroom is disabled accessible and, in addition to a commode, urinal, sink and bench inside, it includes a drinking fountain and shower outside. It requires minimal maintenance; the plumbing fixtures are made out heavy duty stainless steel, there is no need for artificial light or mechanical ventilation inside and the Corten steel panels will weather naturally over time.

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