This article is about bathroom facilities at Stanford. For the jurisprudence journal, see The Stanford Law Review.
The Stanford Loo Review is a little project I'm working on since fall 2017 to catalogue the many bathrooms at Stanford. Why? For many reasons.
First, as anyone who has seen Jurassic Park can tell you, when you gotta go, you gotta go. Unfortunately, Stanford can be a bit labyrinthine at times; do you really want to be trying to figure out the campus map when it's urgent?
Second, not all bathrooms are created equal. Some are cleaner than others. Some offer more privacy than others. Some have those nice water-bottle-filling stations outside. On a more serious note, some are more accessible than others; some are gender-neutral, while many aren't. I hope a brief survey of the bathrooms can help you, the reader, find a bathroom that is comfortable, safe, and right for you.
Finally, we are very lucky to have, on the whole, magnificent facilities at Stanford! Let's celebrate them.
I've tried to make this page easy to search using our old friend, ctrl-F. A list of useful hashtags is below. In addition to building names and numbers, you can generally search for tags like #genderneutral.
Are you an aspiring Lavatonomist? Found a bathroom that everyone should know about? For all of these requests and more, please Tweet @lavatonomicon.
I found one on the first floor, somewhere down the corridors. Overall a reasonable experience, except for the part where I accidentally got off the elevator when it was in the basement and had a minor crisis because it is creepy down there.
This building is a weirdly Seussian contraption that's actually two buildings that happen to be half a floor out of phase and connected by stairs. The bathrooms happen to be in building 170. Walk down the hallway and go down steps from 160 to get to 170.
A piece of advice from Sylvie: don't use the third floor women's bathroom. The gap between the stall door and the stall frame is "outrageously" wide — far too wide for comfort — and in fact some students seem to have gone as far as to drape toilet paper over the door to make a makeshift curtain. Necessity is the mother of invention, I guess.
This is a good one to know of if you're in a rush, because it's hardly ever crowded and is super-easy to get to. As you walk into 200, you'll see the stairs that lead underground. Take them, and you'll see signs for the bathrooms.
Among other things, the Hume Center houses the Stanford Storytelling Project. The SSP people believe that everyday objects and places tell stories. I believe that the Hume bathroom tells a story of opulence and luxury: this bathroom is s-w-a-n-k-y. I'm talking no-touch paper towel machine, 25-cent tampon dispenser, and literally more square footage than my bedroom back home. Walk down the hall past the bannister as you enter, and it'll be on your right, labeled #genderneutral.
Pigott is just a long corridor with a door at each end, and so the bright side is that it is very easy to find the bathroom on the first floor (there is a men's and a women's, right next to each other, as well as one of those nice water-bottle-filling stations). There is also another, well, bright side: unlike most bathrooms, which have frosted glass windows, Pigott's stall has a clear window with blinds. If you open the blinds in the afternoon, you get some lovely sunlight and a view of Main Quad.
I found myself in the geology building at night looking for a bathroom, and gosh it's creepy. Especially the giant oyster just casually sitting in the dark corner by the stairs. I was not prepared for that one.
Anyway. There's a women's bathroom on the ground floor; just walk past the bannister and look to your left. There's a sign that points to a #genderneutral bathroom as well, but the door leads outside (???) and it was too cold for me to go investigate.
The only men's bathroom I could find was upstairs. Go up the stairs, turn left, walk past the creepy dead starfish display, and then it's in an alcove on your right (there is also a women's bathroom next door).
Fun fact: there are fossil-bearing stones in the walls of all geology corner bathrooms because geologists like fossils.
I'm always a bit scared to walk around the psych building because I'm afraid the people there will use their psychology skills to deduce from my face and/or actions that I'm not supposed to be there or something (I like to imagine the psych students to be kind of like less-snarky versions of Patrick Jane from The Mentalist).
So when I walked into Jordan Hall to check out the bathroom, I tried my best to act like I belonged. This facade, unfortunately, came crashing down rather rapidly when I realized I couldn't find the bathroom. So I waited until the hall was empty and then discreetly glanced at a building map (which, by the way, had a post-it that reads "consult me before bothering anyone about room numbers"). The map led me down the hall to the left.
The bathroom itself was okay, I guess.
A lot of classes/office hours happen in the basement of the Math Corner, which is a shame because, owing to subtleties inevitabilities of plane geometry, the bathroom down there isn't the most pleasant.
Let me explain what I mean. When you walk through the door to the Sloan basement men's bathroom, you see... another door. That door (Door 2) leads you into a small metallic atrium containing a urinal. It actually makes sense, because without this door there would be a pretty clear line of sight between the hallway and the urinal. But of course, it doesn't end there: the urinal atrium has yet another door (Door 3). Door 3 leads to a stall. Really, the whole thing is quite reminiscent of the two-room doubles in FroSoCo.
"Why," you now ask (as any reasonable person would), "is this a problem?" I posit that the issue is primarily combinatorial in nature: there are too many combinations of open/shut states for the door. Suppose, for example, that you walk through the outer door and see Door 2 shut. You do not, at this point, know whether or not Door 3 is shut. Are you willing to risk walking into the urinal atrium and having to wait there? Or do you retreat to the safety of the hallway? It's a difficult choice, and, in this writer's view, not one you want to make if the stakes are high.
TL;DR if you can wait like 30 seconds, I would strongly recommend running up a flight of stairs and using the one on the first floor.
Anonymous sources report that "Just check them out! Building 550... they're fucking magnificent and got recent paint jobs. The artist is from New York and came to paint the designs on the bathroom walls recently."
Update (2021): Trish, who took the picture above in 2019, adds, "I just wanted to add that the last time I visited the women's restroom in the d.school, there were mini disco balls hanging near the mirrors and the walls were painted hot(?) pink! And I think there were face decals on the mirror, too. Not sure if it's been repainted since."
This is a #genderneutral bathroom located near the back-west side of the church. It's its own building, really tiny. When you go in, there are two doors: one labeled "all-gender bathroom" and the other unlabeled (I don't know what it leads to!).
There is little to complain about, but I wouldn't count on using this bathroom in an emergency. Why? Because all the buildings in the Main Quad have little signs that say "No Public Access: public restrooms located behind church," and so this bathroom sometimes has long lines during the day. I guess it's the price you pay for going to college at a top Bay-Area tourist destination.
All that glisters is not gold, often have you heard that told. But it doesn't really sink in until you visit the small building behind MemChu, that happens to be a standalone men's bathroom.
Superficially, this bathroom is very Hogwarts: when you open the door, you see a magnificent-ish staircase that leads down to an enormous tiled atrium with old-fashioned bathroom fixtures. It's really quite impressive.
But when you get down to the nuts and bolts of the act itself, I wouldn't rate this bathroom very well at all, at least in terms of UI/UX. The stalls are old and creaky. The floor-to-ceiling urinals, while dramatic, lack inter-urinal privacy barriers and are visible from the front door. Since you need to go down a half-flight of stairs to get to it, it's not very accessible. And, worst of all, you're always a little afraid that Moaning Myrtle's going to pop out of the plumbing. As a student, I think you have better options. To quote the LSJUMB, OUT! WITH! THE! OLD! IN! WITH! THE! NEW! (5x)
Have you ever wondered whether the nuclear fallout shelters built during the Cold War had bathrooms?
I find Braun deceptively simple on the outside, and hopelessly confusing on the inside. It's like a vaguely Lovecraftian monster that is so symmetric that it drives its inhabitants crazy. My only experience in Braun so far has been auditioning for an ensemble. I didn't get the part, but thanks to pre-audition nervousness, I did get to check out their bathrooms. As far as I can tell, they're only on the ground floor, but on both halves of the building. My best advice is to keep walking down the hall: since it's a complete circle, you will eventually find them.
(contributed by Sylvie) Apparently there are lots of professors in this one. Kind of makes sense if you think about it.
All I have to say about this is that for a building that houses one of the premier institutes of privacy law in the world, the urinal placement in the men's bathroom leaves a lot to be desired.
Note — there's a sign that gives directions to a #genderneutral bathroom. I plan on checking it out next time I'm there.
(contributed by Sylvie) When I asked her about this, she grinned and started quoting Gatsby. Take from that what you will.
At first glance, this bathroom appears to be just another cozy single-occupancy #genderneutral bathroom. But, like bananas, rental cars and Safeway receipts, a second glance reveals quite a lot. I don't have enough time to talk about all the features of this bathroom, but I will mention two to get you interested.
Feature 1: This bathroom comes equipped with a phone. The number is, appropriately enough, the phone number to the "business department" listed on the KZSU website's contact page (the extension is 149, not that you would need that information, right?).
Feature 2: The wall across from the toilet seat has a speaker that's constantly streaming KZSU. Right in your face. Which means that if you catch them at a particularly fortunate moment, you might have your bathroom activities accompanied by hits such as "I Run to the Throne Room," "Release the Beast," or, if you're really lucky, "Splish Splash."
Overall, this bathroom is definitely one of my top picks across campus, if only for its uniqueness. (One caveat: you need a key to get into KZSU. You probably don't want to bother a DJ by ringing the doorbell...)
Anyone who has studied the theory of Poisson processes in the context of effective management of retail establishments knows that with a little bit of thought, you can minimize the number of bottlenecks that patrons of a particular service encounter. In the case of bathrooms, for example, bottlenecks are frequently caused by a suboptimal sink:stall ratio. If the ratio is too low, then people begin queueing behind the sinks to wash their hands as they emerge from the stalls.
This is exactly the situation one encounters in the Bishop bathroom. It's not a bad facility, but if you go there, prepare to hang out and wait a while before you get your turn at the sink. Bring a novel or something.
"super nice bathrooms with bright lighting, marble stalls, and beAutiful mirrors. best part of it is in, i believe, the 4th or 5th stall upon entering, there's a super dope drawing of what resembles multiple heads/skulls all fusing together or leaving the body. super cool." —anonymous contribution
"sometimes too crowded :( but if you're able to, peek inside the smaller 2 stalls to see a sticker of Chanel Miller's quote inscribed on the plaque on the back of the stall door" —anonymous contribution
(contributed by Sylvie) "It felt like a space where I could be a woman."
This bathroom reeks of sketchiness before you even enter it. The first thing you notice is that the men's bathroom has a sign on the door that says "please open door slowly."
"Why," you might ask, "must we be told to open the door slowly?" Have there been issues with aggressive door-opening in the past? Have there been injuries? Or perhaps they are worried about people breaking the door itself?
It turns out that there is indeed a reason for this sign, and it comes down to our old friend, urinal placement. You see, the urinal in this bathroom is right in the corner, dangerously close to the sweep of the door (whether this is due to architectural, geological, or plumbing constraints is still unclear and the subject of ongoing research). Thus, a hapless user of said urinal could in principle be knocked off their feet by a sufficiently aggressive swing.
I strongly, strongly recommend the stall.
Honestly, if you walk in any direction in the basement of Huang, you will very soon see signs for bathrooms. And they're all quite decent. The one I want to focus on, however, is 00-03R, a #genderneutral bathroom.
You see, one of the criteria I use to rate bathrooms on this site is, "given a source of nutrition, how long could the average human being viably live in this bathroom?" And 00-03R wins this competition by far. It comes with — I kid you not — a couch, a lamp, a table, and a shower. As long as you can put up with the smell of sleep-deprived engineering students, you are likely to have a very acceptable experience.
To find it 00-03R, start off facing NVIDIA. Turn left, walk past the HP garage, turn right, walk past the Product Realization Lab, and then peek into each alleyway on your right until you see signs for bathrooms.
Last I checked, (10/9/17) the urinal was overflowing. Approach with caution.
The bathrooms are clean, spacious, and easy to find. Incredibly, I don't really have anything to complain about.
I do, however, have something important to point out: that we go to a college that explicitly tells us not to drink the toilet-water.
"these bathrooms are hella boujee, but why am i surprised; typically all fancy classical music concert halls are lol. each stall literally has a light that will light up, saying it's occupied if someone goes in the stall. helpful new innovation or useless flex of cash moneyzz? idk also the circular curve of all the mirrors and sinks are v nice." —anonymous contribution
There are two things I want to say about the bathrooms of FroSoCo.
The first one is strictly practical: the second floor of both Adams and Schiff have #genderneutral bathrooms, and the bathrooms next to both lounges are #genderneutral. Importantly, OTHER FLOORS DO NOT HAVE GENDER-NEUTRAL BATHROOMS. I learned this the hard way.
The second thing is slightly cultural, and to properly explain it I will need to delve into a bit of physics. If you were unlucky enough to be subjected to some sort of E&M class in your life, you know that when electricity flows down a wire, it produces a magnetic field that spirals around the wire. If the electricity is flowing towards you, the spiral could either be clockwise or counter-clockwise. It turns out that it's always counter-clockwise. The way you predict the direction of the magnetic field is by using a "right-hand rule," where you point your right thumb in the direction of the flow of electricity. Then the direction in which your fingers curl is the direction of the magnetic field.
It turns out that a similar abstraction is useful for toilet paper rolls. There are two ways to hang a toilet paper roll, and we can characterize them by the direction in which the paper spirals. In the thumb-points-left model, the strip that hangs down from the roll is near the wall; in the thumb-points-right model, the strip that hangs down from the roll is away from the wall. People with pets tend to do thumb-points-left because a rogue cat won't be able to paw at the roll and unroll it all the way. Literally everyone else who has a sense of hygiene does thumb-points-right because it makes sense to not have to bring your hand dangerously close to the wall when pulling the toilet paper.
I've probably alienated physics people, cat people, and hygenic people with the past two paragraphs, but please stick with me for the main takeaway. Here's the deal: the residents of FroSoCo seem to have a rather heated dispute over TP chiralty. This involves passive-aggressive roll-flipping, among other hijinks. So, if you care about consistency in the presentation of your toilet paper, you will not find it here. You have been warned.
I got multiple tips on this one. Not sure what's up with that.
Mr. Anonymous reviews the Men's Restroom on 3C:
This bathroom has a
urinal inside its own entire, full-sized stall. The unparalleled privacy is
nothing short of straight-up glorious.
Chloe reviews the #genderneutral one on 3C, specifically the "last stall":
It has an incredibly pleasant cross-breeze from the window, a nice view
over Uj, excellent opportunity to overhear conversations taking place on the
walkway below, and the seat itself is a much whiter/less-aged shade than the
other options in the bathroom.
Chloe also reviews Roble 2C women's: "It has been occasionally smelling like weed despite many hall complaints, heater is 10/10, random baby wipes keep appearing and disappearing in the last stall."
(contributed by Sylvie) "So gorgeous." Blue tile walls. Nice aesthetic; vaguely Spanish vibe.
The bathrooms in EVGR are enormous, and in fact I am considering subletting mine (tweet me if interested). The one thing to watch out for is that the shower floors are the weird flat kind — convex but not strictly convex — which means that water doesn't drain as fast as you would like. This is also a problem with the kitchen sinks, but this is a bathroom blog, so we won't go there...
This bathroom is like a cubist imitation of itself — the dimensions are all off. Let's focus on the vertical one for now: the urinal is too low, which increases the splash velocity, and thus maximizes the volume of splashback. On the other hand, the automatic sinks' hand sensors are too high, so you have to put your hands uncomfortably close to the faucet and then quickly lower them to actually wash (rinse and repeat). And the paper towel dispenser is too close above the garbage, which means you need to use your ninja reflexes to yank out the paper towel as it's dispensing.
Ben summarizes it best: "The whole bathroom seems like it was designed so that kids and adults could use the same facilities, but it ends up being convenient for neither."
I'm ambivalent on the placement of Ricker's bathroom. On one hand, it is before the meal swipe station, so you can use it as an emergency bathroom if you're passing by the building during non-meal hours (though, what are you doing that far from campus at any hour?). On the other hand, if you're actually eating at Ricker, you need to leave the meal swipe zone and hope the RD&E staff see you on your way out.
The bathroom itself is #genderneutral and reasonably clean. One important thing, however, from one flusher to another: it says "press button to flush," but (at least to this author), it was not at all obvious where the button was. It's the small black circle. You're welcome.
This one is hidden quite well, requiring a trek past the seemingly-forbidden kitchen, down a sketchy flight of stairs, and through a winding path around the shelves of bulk spices in the fluorescent-lit basement. The woman's bathroom itself is, in contrast, bright and clean. There is only one stall, but it is spacious enough to fit an unfortunate kid's bedroom. In fact, it resembled a room more than it does a bathroom stall, and it is surprisingly easy to get settled into the peaceful quiet. I have personally never encountered another person here, staff or student, presumably due to its hidden location.
The one thing I have not seen in any other bathroom is the footstool. This device raises your legs into a squatting position so that your [censored] muscle can open the [censored] angle, which relaxes the [censored], allowing for enjoyable expulsion of [censored]. [Editor's note: I like SLR submissions like I like my toilets: clean.]
There is a catch to all this glory, however. My least favorite thing about this bathroom is the timer-operated hand washing station. The faucet only runs the water for about 10 seconds before automatically squirting out a generous amount of soap from a second nozzle in the same location. Classic bait-and-switch. The circle light would blink blue over the second stage of hand-washing for a full minute before the water turns back on again, forcing you to scrub your hands for the entirety of the alphabet song. You can't just wet some paper towels to wipe food off your face. No, this smart faucet will go through the entire cycle once activated. I despise this faucet's micromanaging personality, but the soap is one of the best I've encountered. It suds up quite easily, like dish soap, but doesn't leave your hands taught and squeaky--perfect for making bubbles to fill those 60 seconds the faucet sucks from your life.
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