Public's Award-Winning Restrooms

One hundred bars of soap on the wall.Photo: Daniel Maurer

Its not every restroom that wins a James Beard Award, but design firm AvroKO clinched one when they remodeled a former warehouse in the style of a fifties municipal building, using mechanized pullies, a card catalog, and post office boxescumbottle holders. The result was Public. We thought the restaurants new lounge, the Monday Room, was a good enough excuse to drop in, No. 2 pencils sharpened, and ponder those award-winning loos.

Concept: School meets pool. A heavy wooden door with UNISEX stenciled on glass invokes the principals office; earth-tone terra-cotta-tile walls channel a haute bath house.

Privacy: An old-fashioned turn-knob bolt locks out intruders, but one wonders how much can be seen through the doors mail slot and leaded glass window.

Amenities: Floral air freshener, thick insignia paper towels, and stacks of individually wrapped hotel-size soap bars (there are liquid suds, too).

Drawbacks: Only two bathrooms so theres sometimes a wait.

Strategy: Carry your coat or purse in with you so you can load up on signature soaps (the highlight of any self-respecting scenesters toiletries).

Rating: Daniel Maurer