2019 Winner – Nashville Zoo Nashville, TN
Nashville Zoo’s Expedition Peru: Trek of the Andean Bear women’s restroom offers more than meets the eye. Visible through a floor to ceiling glass window are a family of six cottontop tamarins. This lush indoor exhibit features these critically endangered primates and all their antics. Meanwhile, Nashville Zoo’s Entry Village men’s restroom features floor–to–ceiling glass window with a view of the ball python snake exhibit.
2018 – J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge Sanibel, Fla
Manatees, otters, alligators – oh my! The newest adventure at the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge comes to life with restrooms that immerse you in underwater scenery. Life-size animal sculptures grace the walls leading to and within the restrooms. The facility walls feature mesmerizing photographic tile murals of lush, watery mangrove scenes and its stalls showcase professional bird photography. These Learning Lavatories not only dazzle but educate visitors with interpretive messaging about local wildlife and saving the environment, turning a necessary “nature call” into a “nature enthrall.”
2017 – OdySea Aquarium Scottsdale, Ariz
At OdySea Aquarium, the adventure is all around you… even in the restrooms! During the early stages of design, OdySea knew that it wanted to create jaw-dropping moments for its guests at every corner. That’s why they opted out of the typical mirror over the sinks and instead installed an enormous acrylic window leading straight into Shark Waters — its largest exhibit. Where else in the world can you stare a 9-foot lemon shark in the eye as you wash your hands?
2016 – Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Minneapolis, Minnesota
Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport recently began renovating its restrooms, which will continue through 2025 to encompass more than 100 sets of public restrooms. Restroom zones are highlighted by softer lighting and a material palette that serves as a wayfinding icon. This zone includes a waiting area as well as an amenity node with flight information, emergency devices, and curated art display cases. Art that reflects features of Minnesota is also featured within the restrooms with original mosaic art in the entrances, created by a different regional artist at each set.
2015 – Town of Minturn Public Restrooms Minturn, Colorado
Founded in 1904, Minturn is rich in mining history and its new public restrooms reflect its past. The unique digitally fabricated shape of the men’s and women’s restrooms resemble an adit (horizontal passage way) into a Rocky Mountain mine. The concept is the product of several key players: the Town of Minturn, LaN Architecture – Monika Wittig, LGM 3d Studios and Noble Welding. The team came together to produce “functional art” that’s already captured community attention! “Our public restrooms prove how great it is to combine art, architecture and creativity. It changes moods, places and people,” said Janet Hawkinson, director of design and construction for the public restroom project. “It would be the best to win the contest and show the country what can be accomplished when everyone works together to create something truly memorable, as we did in small town Minturn!”
2014 – Longwood Gardens Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The public restrooms at Longwood Gardens, the most visited public garden in America, deserve a double-take as you walk by. That’s because the 17 restrooms themselves are part of the largest indoor “Green Wall” in North America! The staff at Longwood worked with artist Kim Wilkie on an unprecedented feat of bathroom architecture. Take a look at the photos, and you’ll understand. Aside from the restrooms’ lush greenery, they also feature domed, naturally lit lavatory cabinets hidden within the “Green Wall.” In addition, each restroom contains etched translucent glass at the top of the dome to provide natural light, reduce electricity and minimize the need for light fixtures. Longwood Gardens traces its roots to the famed du Pont family and has become preeminent for its grand collection of plant life. Now, its restrooms also share in the spotlight. “The restrooms at Longwood have become a ‘must-see’ for our one million annual visitors, and we even have docents nearby to share the story of their creation,” says Patricia Evans, communications manager at Longwood Gardens. “To be named America’s Best Restroom would be a testament to our creativity and environmental stewardship.”
2013 – Varsity Theater Minneapolis, Minnesota
The Varsity Theater, formerly The University Theater, was one of the last vaudeville houses in Minneapolis and hosted everything from minstrel shows, to comedians, to screenings of early silent films. In 2005, the current incarnation of The Varsity Theater opened its doors as a vaudeville house for the 21st Century. The restroom, decorated with ornate, gilded mirrors, sassy text plates, and bricks laid as if by a drunken mason on bender, invites guests into an Alice In Wonderland-like grotto – to relieve themselves and re-live childhood fairy tales. One part old-fashioned powder room one part lounge, this restroom allows concert-goers to take a break in an area from which one can still view and hear the stage. Bartenders even serve drinks over the back counter into the restroom area, offering a VIP experience to every guest. The sinks were designed with shower head-faucets with a foot pedal operation, a la grade school restrooms. The lounge and hand washing area is coed, creating quite a social atmosphere, particularly when concert-goers are trying to figure out how to activate the sinks and they need to ask one another for the tip – use your toes. And of course, the women’s side of the restroom features four times as many stalls as the men’s side. In addition to hosting both local and national music acts the Varsity is a popular location for wedding receptions, private galas, and dream dates, coupled with dinner at their associated restaurant, Loring Pasta Bar.
2012 – Buc-ee’s New Braunfels, Texas
Customers making a beeline for the bathroom at Buc-ee’s say this Texas-based business flushes the competition when it comes to clean! Offering up some of the most spotless loos in the Lone Star State, the Buc-ee’s brand of convenience stores knows firsthand that clean bathrooms mean big business! The Battle of the Alamo may explain the city’s nickname “Something to Remember,” but outside San Antonio just off I-35 North in New Braunfels, stands a sparkling restroom facility that’s almost impossible to forget! It’s hard to miss the 60 gas pumps that mark Buc-ee’s newest 68,000 –square-foot store. Or the 80 soda fountains inside that sit next to the 31 cash registers. But it’s the 83 stalls in this Buc-ee’s restroom that really impress! Road warriors who frequent the New Braunfels Buc-ee’s say this one-of-a kind rest stop is fit for a King. And with 83 toilets to choose from, you even get your very own Throne!
2011 – The Field Museum Chicago, IL
With two large family-friendly restrooms on the ground floor, the Field Museum features sufficient stalls and sinks, as well as eco-friendly hand-dryers. The women’s restroom has a special nursing room with a shut door, sink, and small sofa for new mothers. The women’s restroom also has a large Tot Area with smaller toilets for our littlest guests. The restrooms are also right across a Nanny Caddy filled with diapers, band-aids, wipes, etc.
2010 – The Fountain on Locust St. Louis, Missouri
Known as the most photographed restaurant in St. Louis, the restroom in this vintage ice cream parlor features hand-painted murals, ornate fixtures and designer mirrors.
2009 – The Shoji Tabuchi Theater Branson, Missouri
The entertainment at Shoji Tabuchi’s Theatre goes beyond the stage and into the restroom. Visit the ladies’ powder room and
you’ve entered the lap of luxury. This restroom boasts wainscoting, live cut orchids at every granite and onyx pedestal sink,
stained glass, chandeliers and a ceiling reproduced from the 1890’s Empire Period.
2008 – The Hermitage Hotel Nashville, Tennessee
The Hotel Hermitage in Nashville (named after Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage estate) opened its doors on September 17, 1910.
Only the finest materials were used: Italian sienna marble in the entrance; wall panels of Russian walnut; a cut, stained glass
ceiling in the vaulted lobby; Persian rugs; and massive, overstuffed furniture. As Nashville’s first million-dollar hotel, it was the
preferred gathering place for the city’s socialites. The Hermitage Hotel was a symbol of Nashville’s emergence as a major
Southern city. The restrooms reflect this care in craftsmanship as well.
2007 – Jungle Jim’s International Market Fairfield, Ohio
Jungle Jim’s International Market is approximately 300,000 square feet of shopping ingenuity – it has Amish food, a cheese
shoppe, garden center, international cuisine, cooking classes and eight aisles of pet supplies to name a few. And in the
heart of it all, you’ll find that Jungle Jim’s famous restrooms stop shoppers dead in their tacks. Talk about bathroom
humor — the entrance doors are actual port-o-lets. Unsuspecting shoppers patiently wait their turn until they see three or
four people exiting. Upon opening the door they discover a gigantic, modern restroom within. Truly a luxurious
port-o-potty – Jungle Jim’s style!
2006 – Wendell’s Restaurant Westerville, Ohio
Wendell’s restaurant is an upscale eatery focused on customer service and employee enthusiasm. Wendell’s bathroom
features a classic sports theme and is praised for being neat, clean and having lots of towels and even mouthwash!
2005 – Fort Smith Regional Airport Fort Smith, Arkansas
Fort Smith Regional Airport prides itself on the Southern hospitality that it displays for its visitors. The restrooms are always
clean, with sanitation being of utmost importance. Beautiful décor and comfortable seating, both inside and outside the
stalls, compliment the restrooms’ cleanliness. Dried flower arrangements are always on display. And you’ll never have to
manually flush a toilet or turn on a sink here—everything is automated.
2004 – Kohler Art Center Sheboygen, Wisconsin
The John Michael Kohler Arts Center is a not-for-profit organization established in 1967 for aesthetic and educational
purposes. Its mission is to encourage and support innovative explorations in the arts and to foster an exchange
between a national community of artists and a broad public that will help realize the power of the arts to inspire
and transform our world.
2003 – The Grand Casino Biloxi, Mississippi
When Grand Casino Biloxi first opened, it was lauded as the “Toast of the Coast”, with its elegant, “neo-Victorian” theme. If the Casino as a whole was the Toast of the Coast, then surely the “Talk of the Coast” was the Ladies Restroom.
The Ladies Restroom, located on the Casino’s 3rd Floor, near the Marketplace Buffet and Poker Room, received its fair share of media and guest attention when the casino opened in January 1994. The restroom features two entrances that lead the guest to the focal point of the room – an atrium-like vanity area, featuring a large red birdcage and gilded chandelier. Surrounding the vanity area are several red ceramic sinks, each beneath a gilded mirror and light fixture. Forming a u-shape and divided by a wall from the vanity/sink area are the restroom’s stalls. Each stall’s red door features a portrait of a Victorian-era lady – inside each stall, another gilded mirror is attached to the back wall.
Over the years, we’ve had many, many guests compliment us on this restroom. Some even ask us where they can buy the photos of the ladies to put in their own homes”, said Cathye Ross, VP of Guest Services, Grand Casino Biloxi. “It’s definitely the talk of the town and I don’t think there’s another one like it.”
2002 – University of Notre Dame (Main Building) South Bend, Indiana
The Main Building at Notre Dame was constructed in 1879 and was remodeled during a two year program (1997-1999). When the renovation was accomplished, one of the primary directives was return the building to its original splendor and glory.
The restrooms in the Main Building have Stovax Victorian tile floors (imported from England). The main door to all restrooms is refinished in their original glory of stained wood. Interior partition doors are finished solid oak mounted to marble finished partitions. Drinking fountains are inside a partitioned portion of the restroom. Faucets on sinks are designer accented with chrome and brass. Counters are built in for diaper changing and/or for luggage/bags. The lighting is classical 1800’s style lighting suspended from the ceiling in reflector bowls. Walls and floors are tiled and accented with color tiles.