New Portsmouth Square Restroom Design

SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (RPD) unveiled today a newly approved design for the restroom at Portsmouth Square, one of the most heavily-used and popular parks in the Chinatown neighborhood.  On Monday, March 4th, the SF Arts Commission approved the conceptual design for the Portsmouth Square Restroom renovation, a $1.13 million project funded by the 2008 Clean and Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond’s Citywide Restroom Repair and Renovation Program.  The new Portsmouth Square restroom, a free-standing restroom building located within Portsmouth Square, is designed to reflect the predominant culture of the immediate neighborhood.

“The restroom renovation at Portsmouth Square is crucial to maintaining one of the very few park spaces in Chinatown, which I know will continue to be used by hundreds of residents for recreation and community gathering for years to come,” said District 3 Supervisor and Board President David Chiu.

“The Portsmouth Square Restroom was constructed in the 1990s and quickly had become one of the most used public restroom facility by residents and visitors in San Francisco,” said Phil Ginsburg, SF Rec and Park General Manager.  “With this renovation, we will be able to improve our ability to maintain and operate the facility and better serve our communities.”

In 2008, SF Rec and Park’s Restroom Task Force evaluated free-standing restrooms on park property.  Due to the high user count of the Portsmouth Square restroom, the Task Force recommended that its capacity be increased.  At the conclusion of the first community meeting, it was decided that the preferred solution was to increase user capacity by replacing the existing restroom rather than expanding or supplementing it.  This solution will bring improved performance to the facility.

“Chinatown seniors, families, and merchants often rated clean and adequate public restrooms as an important community need and priority. It is something that everyone agreed on. In the last year, over 50 of CCDC’s residents and families have attended a series of community design workshops, and they passionately voiced their feedbacks to the final design. We are grateful for the Recreation and Park Department staffs and architect’s sensitivity to the community and to create an excellent design that meets the needs of the community,” said Rev. Norman Fong of the Chinatown Community Development Center.

The new design for the Portsmouth Square Restroom is a modern interpretation of traditional Chinese architecture.  It is designed to take advantage of natural ventilation and sunlight, durability and ease of maintenance. The sloping roof line with wire-treatment along the edges is designed for pigeon-proofing. A combination of a roof overhang and obscure glass limits sightlines into the restroom building from nearby taller buildings.

Portsmouth Square is located in the heart of Chinatown, an area with one of the highest population densities in San Francisco.  The Square is considered the backyard for residents in the neighborhood as many live in Single Room Occupancy buildings with limited personal space and little access to the outdoors.


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