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    Restroom for the American Tobacco Trail in Raleigh, NC
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American Tobacco Trail Rest Facilities
The American Tobacco Trail was conceived as a linear park offering biking, running and walking through wooded areas on an abandoned rail line. Toilet facilities were needed for the park, but due to the remote location, bringing utilities to the trail heads would have been excessively expensive.

Each toilet was designed to be completely off the grid with no electrical power, no sewer and no water. A concrete vault system was devised to provide six to eight months of storage, after which a sewage tanker is used to pump the vaults. Proper ventilation is important with this type of facility and since electricity was not available for fans, natural ventilation was the best solution. The most important part of this was the use of two large black pipes. These pipes are connected to underground concrete vaults. The vaults are connected to waterless closets in each of the toilet rooms. The vent pipes are not only a prominent design element on the southern elevation of each toilet, but they also are the main functional component in this natural ventilation system. Once the sun rises in the morning, the pipes become warmer from solar radiation creating an upward flow of air or chimney effect within the pipes. This pulls air from the waterless closets thereby removing bad smells from the toilet enclosures. Waterless closets are not available, therefore units were custom designed, fabricated and installed. A double band of insect screen units are provided high in each toilet room to provide addtional ventilation.

Lighting was also a critical element. Public toilets are spaces that should be well lit. A band of translucent glass block windows are incorporated in the rear wall of the toilets along with a thin skylight that extends the full length of each toilet. Skylights let in much more light than windows. In this case clear glass is used so that upon entering the room one’s eye is attracted to the skylight and then to the sky above, creating a more plesant experiance.

Rain barrels are used at the back of the building to capture the water from the roof. This water is used for mopping and cleaning the facility. Durable, easily cleanable and graffiti resistant materials are imperative for pubic facilities that are not monitored. Glazed concrete block is the wall material utilized and epoxy floor coating is used over a concrete floor slab. The epoxy flooring has small marble chips incorporated in the mix so that a slip resistant, highly cleanable surface is achieved.

The American Tobacco Toilets were the only physical building elements of the park making it important that they provide an upscale, attractive image for the park and its patrons. Since the buildings are located in a natural park, laminated wood beams and wood decking are used as building materials. Including wood in the material palette provided warm natural elements that fit the park setting. 
Designed by Dan Huffman, AIA. Images by James West.