In a proposal originally scheduled to run from 6:10 to 6:30 at the Ocean Beach Planning Board this Wednesday evening, Kevin deFreitas, a local architect based in Point Loma, delivered a nearly hour-long sermon on his vision of blending local landscape, culture, and . . . feces.
North OB has been without public facilities since late last year, when the original bathrooms constructed in 1964 were demolished due to concerns about the structural integrity of the roof.
In unveiling his $480,000 plan for the new ‘comfort station’ planned to replace the restrooms near the corner of Brighton and Spray in north OB, deFreitas displayed a handful of slides featuring diagrams and artist renderings, and even passed around a wooden model of the proposed facility.
Paramount concerns were keeping with the funky, eclectic vibe of Ocean Beach, designing a facility that would blend in and harmonize with the landscape and, with a nod toward the town’s environmental consciousness, advance the concept of self-sustainability to public restrooms.
The nuts and bolts:
- The new facility will feature five stalls and two sinks in the women’s room, with two stalls, two urinals, and two sinks on the men’s side.
- The entrances for the sexes will be separated, with the female entrance facing north toward the parking lot and the male facing south down the beach toward the pier. This design is intended to promote safety by discouraging presumably unsavory men from loitering near the female entrance, and by placing it nearer to the parking lot and attendant lighting.
- Instead of four showers attached to the building as the old bathrooms had, there would be three showers, set off from the main building and partially surrounded by a 42” high privacy wall
- Ramps for direct restroom access would extend all the way to the parking lot, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- 7 bike racks, allowing for the securing of 14 or more bikes, would be installed on the other side of the shower privacy wall, facing the southern edge of the parking lot.
- The building would sit 14” above the average sand line, making maintenance easier due to a lower level of windblown sand needing to be removed from the facilities. Stairs would lead from the south edge of the building down to the sand, with ramps on the eastern and western edges.
- The new building is expected to last at least 50 years, provided it’s maintained properly by the city. There was speculation the old facility could’ve lasted 100, given its construction, but failure to properly care for the bathrooms by the city caused it to rapidly decay to the point of being considered a health and safety hazard after only 45.
- Gates and locks will be installed on the doors – ostensibly they’re only intended to be used when the facilities are closed for maintenance or repair, though it was stated the city could elect in the future to shut down the bathrooms at a certain hour every night to discourage use in the late evening. At present, the city doesn’t even have the funds to send workers out to lock down and re-open the toilets every day if they wanted to.
- Solar material would be integrated into the roof of the building. This new technology would eliminate the need for aluminum-lined solar panels, which would run the risk of corrosion, vandalism, or theft. The goal is for solar generation to provide 100% of the power necessary to sustain the structure. There was also talk of water harvesting for re-use on the site, though specifics of the system were not addressed.
In addition to the basics, a lot of artistic ‘fluff’ was discussed:
- The general design for the building was inspired by the raised lifeguard towers that dot the beach, in addition to the pier and native marine life, particularly marine birds.
- The slope of the roof would be greater than the old building, slightly lower at the center but rising a couple feet higher to nearly 14’ total at the edges. The curve was inspired by the informal ‘logo’ of OB, the seagull with wings spread. In addition to form, the design is intended to add function by rising above the walls of the building and allowing for both natural light and ventilation.
- The north side of the facility housing the women’s facilities would be shrouded in a blue glazed block meant to appear feminine and evoke thoughts of an ocean wave, while the men’s side would be stark grey cast concrete, emblazoned with a lower case ‘ob’ logo facing the surf.
- Ripples on the inside of the roof would symbolize the varying characters of OB (I’m not sure how exactly, and wish I had better notes or insight on why the designer thought so), and would also evoke a feeling of ‘relief’ (pun intended, and not by the author).
- Quotes from local media would also be etched in 6” high letters on the interior of the bathrooms, in circular fashion on the ladies’ side and in a harsh criss-cross pattern on the men’s side. Some of the words destined for immortality (according the the slide show) were even attributed to Frank Gormlie and the OB Rag. (Editor: WTF!!??)
- LED lights embedded in the ceiling would both cut energy use and provide a soft glow to the facility after dark, providing enough light to meet building codes but not so much as to mar the landscape or disturb nearby residents.
The council, led by Landry Watson, voted unanimously in support of the proposal. Mr. deFreitas stated the designs had already been reviewed by the city for engineering and maintenance standards. With a few minor tweaks, the plans are tentatively scheduled to be submitted to the coastal commission in the coming weeks. Approval there could take up to six months, and the goal is to have the new facilities up and running by summer 2011.