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Changing Tables & Family Restrooms
Written by Mike Spock
Taking our cue from the wonderfully consistent National Park Visitor Centers, (they always clustered restrooms, the information desk, an introductory slideshow, and educational exhibits, all equally visible and accessible from the path from the parking lot to the front door) we also decided that every Museum Wharf floor had to have both women and men's restrooms, not hidden away in the museum's basement. (Besides, we were reminded during high tide in an approaching hurricane that our building didn't have a basement!) And we also insisted that every restroom—including every men's room—had to have a baby-changing table (there were none on the market then; we had to design and build our own.) No one was going to have to change a diaper on the restroom floor. And another thing we thought up: instead of space consumed by not very busy handicapped accessible stalls, (as required by the new national codes) every floor was to have a spacious and separate unisex family restroom with wide doors, high fixtures, grab bars, and their own changing tables. We could find no precedents to point to, so we had to convince the building department that this unconventional arrangement was a reasonable substitute for what were then becoming universal handicapped stalls and fixtures. Everyone admitted that our idea had some currency when we reminded building department fathers, who had at some point subjected their daughters to being taken into men's public restrooms. When we tried them out for the first time at Museum Wharf, mothers also applauded the fact that the new family restrooms would offer some privacy if they wanted to nurse their babies as well! We had fun designing the new icons and changing tables, and family restrooms soon became a universally expected public accommodation.
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