Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square Comfort Station

Meandering through Santa Monica’s Tongva Park, designed by James Corner Field Operations, offers moments of serenity and pause, one of which opens into a wide passage connecting one path to another under landscape hills.

At a time when the traditionally private act of visiting the restroom has become part of a decidedly public policy debate, each of this project explores the spatial opportunities of single stall restrooms as an alternative to conventional gender-designated, multi-user rooms. In keeping with the core values of FF&P, the comfort station’s architecture makes little distinction between indoor and outdoor living.
The openness of Tongva Park’s restroom was not intended to make a political statement, rather, it was an attempt to integrate the facility more fluidly into its surrounding landscape. Individual toilet compartments and communal sink areas are open to nature on three sides – including a large, square opening to the sky above. Natural light illuminates the restroom from multiple directions, avoiding the “flashlight effect” when one directional light source creates an atmosphere of high-contrast light and shadow. The space’s porosity also takes advantage of its location one block from the Pacific Ocean, enabling the coastal breeze to provide continuous natural ventilation – a challenge for designers.