In my first year of attendance at the University of Virginia, I have spent a significant amount my free time utilizing the bathrooms around grounds. In the process, I have found an incredible amount of diversity in attributes and experiences across the bathrooms at UVa. The following ranking can be used as a framework to maximize your bathroom experience. I encourage you to not be complacent and keep looking for the best. This list reflects bathrooms that are most often utilized, or ones I have found particularly worthy of praise or criticism.
Before I begin I would like to thank the hard and consistent work Custodial Services of Facilities Management does for UVa. Without them the quality of our facilities would fade into oblivion, considering the often careless treatment of the facilities by those who use them daily. They help maintain the wonderful quality of life that exists here.
NOTE: All pictures were taken when reporter was the only one present in the bathroom
20. Old Dorms
A lot of Old Dorms’ charm come from the poor quality of life. You could argue that the lack of AC and bad bathrooms help foster more of a bonding experience over the collective struggle. But for the purpose of this piece, I must evaluate the bathrooms without bias. They are just not good. The privacy factor is low and the lighting is terrible. Furthermore, by virtue of being a dorm’s bathroom, they lose ground in the rankings. People are constantly using them, making them even nastier than they inherently are. And every hall has that one unhygienic member who will have a little too much at Trin and will leave a stall, a sink, or the floor completely trashed—it is destiny
19. Clemons Library (4th Floor)
The student body loves Clemons Library. This love inversely creates a problem. On the fourth floor there are only two unisex single stall bathrooms, and the people of Clemons are a foul-smelling horde who’ve been there for hours. Sometimes (often) people use the bathrooms to brush their teeth and prepare for the long night. Mechanically and design wise, the bathrooms are okay. But in the context of their overpopulation and stench, they near the bottom of the barrel. You will notice once you’ve read through all the analysis–and I know you will – that I never again mention smell. That’s simply due to the fact no other bathroom consistently smells so badly.
18. Chemistry Building (4th floor)
It’s not that the Chem bathrooms are that terrible. The urinals and toilets are usually clean, the lighting is actually good, and not that many people use it. It’s the collection of annoyances and oddities it contains that makes it so low on the list. Some design flaws worth noting:
1. It contains the worst designed trashcan paper towel location and design combo I have ever encountered
2. The entire bathroom is designed as if the average male height was 5’5”
3. One of the stalls attempts to psychologically unnerve its users. This thing has existed on the stall wall for at least the last four months:
“Proverbs for Paranoids”
1. You may never get to touch the Master, but you can tickle his creatures.
2. The innocence of the creatures is the inverse proportion to the immortality of the Master.
3. If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about the answers.
4. You hide, they seek.
To be honest in a way I appreciate the writing on the wall because it at least gives me a unique experience and creates unique (maybe unhealthy) thinking, but it really should not be there.
17. Wilson Hall (for 3rd, 4th floor)
The bathroom in Wilson Hall has caused me physical pain. I have twice smashed into the wall and sink, which hurt my back and crushed my hand. It is fundamentally not designed well. It is entirely too small, and it is the only bathroom on the floor with a lecture hall that holds around three hundred people for some of the biggest classes. It doesn’t take much imagination to see the disaster that is that facility after Bob Kemp finishes his COMM 1800 lecture, or STAT 2120 lets out. Not good.
16. Bryan Hall (3rd floor, main entrance)
Why is there only one giant stall? If you just go down one flight of stairs there is a perfectly adequate bathroom to hide away in. They wasted so much space! Look at solo stall, I have been denied a #2 so many times, but there is so much room! Clearly it’s too late for a redesign, but there definitely could have been something better. Just classic bad bathroom engineering.
15. Monroe Hall
The stalls are old, but decent and unique. Here is a simple case of bad building layout.
Unless you’re an economics professor the bathrooms exist in only one place: the basement, a location that feels like it so much farther to reach than it should be. The other, arguably larger, problem is the presence of a low angle on the staircase on the
way down to the bathrooms. I’m around the average height for a guy, but every time I walk down those stairs the tips of my hair rub against that ledge. For anyone taller it’s a waiting headache. This bathroom is trying to make your day worse before you even reach it.
14. Thornton Hall (Basement)
To make you understand my feelings towards Thornton Hall you need a story. Recently I’ve been trying to drink more water and just generally be a healthier person. It was Fall when I was happily walking down McCormick Road enjoying the breeze. Then, my bladder gave some indication it was time. So I calmly walked into the nearest building, Thornton Hall. Inside I noticed quite quickly this building did not follow normal UVa bathroom design. I went from strolling, to speed-walking, to rushing, to running. I wandered and searched and ran, but Thorton Hall remained a tricky one. Eventually I made it, but at a cost: some (perhaps many) droplets of urine may have leaked out.
13. Maury Hall (1st floor)
I have a love/hate relationship with this bathroom. Its yellow hue dominates, it has a spider’s web in the roof, and it’s got that “I’m about to be murdered here” vibe that makes me feel like I’m supposed to punch a mirror or something. Still, it makes me feel something. It is a little weird, grimy and shady, yet doesn’t have any truly awful problems that will physically or emotionally scar you. It’s a cool place to hop in once in and a blue moon.
12. Newcomb Dining Hall (2nd floor)
Just so boring. Regular lighting, average color scheme and two stalls that are always taken up. That isn’t supposed to happen to guys! And why is the toilet auto-flush only? I will get to the importance of this later in the rankings, but note now: this trend needs to end.
Bonus: Mystery Door next to bathroom. What on earth is behind this door? It gets one of the premier names “Cavalier Room” of any room at UVa and it is “not accessible.” I got a proposal: Give the dum
pling people space in Newcomb, generate some competition against In The Nood. The students will get lower prices, and the University will send me a freebie COMM degree, Win-Win, 2+2=5.
11. Slaughter Gym
Maybe it is a little ugly with its brick tiling but that doesn’t give it #11. What’s the problem? Well there’s a fundamental mis-design with the right-hand stall. I did not want to get too graphic in this series, but there is a truly annoying bug with its automatic flusher. When one utilizes toilet paper to wipe this can set off the automatic flush sequence, leaving the user splashed, confused and saddened. This can happen over, and over again. This has ruined my day and it will ruin yours too.
10. Observatory Hill Dining Hall The hallmark of the average UVa public bathroom. Clean, functional, with a sufficient number of stalls and average use. This is the baseline. It used to be worse, only a week ago the 3/4 of the stalls didn’t lock! But now that’s fixed, leaving it even more average. Let’s move on.
The AFC’s bathrooms keep up the tradition of “average, decent, whatever just let me pee already,” yet something bugs me about it. The aesthetics are reasonable and they have good layout design. The AFC’s got a bathroom everywhere so they’re perfectly set-up for that post lift-mirror selfie (you know who you are). Maybe that is what bugs me. I’m already being subjected to being emasculated by these guys lifting big outside the bathroom, I want to at least find brief peace inside the bathroom. Instead I get loud pee from guys who could turn me into a cube.
As an aside: I also appreciate the tissues that are usually there, cool addition. I thank you and my nose thanks you.
8. Bavaro Hall
I am intrigued by Bavaro’s facilities. Their aesthetic is very unique compared to most UVa facilities with its sharp black stalls surrounded by white, well-lit walls. Bavaro is also the only bathroom that I know of that has a readily available closet. The bathrooms also support parents with a baby changing table and have great accessibility, being right by the entrance. These small details take what would just be an average bathroom and simple stalls and move it up to #8. Whoever was designing it clearly didn’t have much room to play with but did an excellent, careful job. Kudos.
7. Rouss-Robertson Hall
Really quite spacious, aesthetically reasonable (I would rather the green be a lighter blue and the bulbs at the top to be a little cleaner, but whatever), and consistently functional. The only fault I have with Rouss-Robertson’s quite competitive facilities is its clientele. Not that there is anything wrong them as people, but they are nearly always a fully adult man in their full business suit thinking about how to make a ton of money. To me, a kid in sweats, in that bathroom I am constantly presented with the unnervingly close future.
However, in this I can always find solace: the bathroom will always stand as equalizer.
This is extremely disputable, and I originally had it as my #1, but after some consulting I had to move it to 6. On the left side of Minor Hall, hidden away in a tiny hallway there is a one toilet, closed off one room bathroom. It is not the most well-lit area in the world, nor the prettiest bathroom on grounds but it has supreme privacy on its side. You are alone, in a place that you fully own for the moment. I have spent likely five hours there pondering my life experiences and organizing my
thoughts, it’s just the kind of place you can do that. For most others, who actually have class in Minor Hall (and aren’t going there just to use its bathroom) this room can be a nightmare. As a one toilet, unisex bathroom the line gets long and it’s often unavailable in crunch times. Despite this, until it becomes crowded when I use it, I will keep considering it my place of peace and my personal #1.
When I first arrived to the university I marveled at the quality of life in New Dorms. I said, “this is on par with a hotel,” and it is. The bathrooms have immense amounts of natural light, the walls are white, and the stalls and showers are plentiful. So why is it not in the top 3? Well, no matter how quality it may be it is still a Dorm’s bathroom and still subject to constant use by often unhygienic (or just sloppy) hall mates.
Aesthetically New Cabell Hall probably has the best bathrooms. They are clean (usually), filled by natural light and offer a serene, peaceful experience. I was told by many of those who I asked in the process of creating this list that they believed it to have the best bathrooms. Still, I have a very serious qualm though with these facilities, and if this report generates any kind of notice this should be the largest takeaway. History Lesson Time: Automatic-only flush toilets cannot be the future. We, as modern humans, have had the same basic flush toilet design since ~1591 when it was invented by Sir John Harrington . Thomas Crapper patented the technology and improved on it and we’ve had our modern bathroom ever since. . The physical triggers work because you working with the mechanics built in the toilet. Automatic-only toilets add another layer of complexity and potential problems. When they stop working because something is wrong with their sensor that is disaster. When they work too much (and waste water) because something is wrong with their sensor that is disaster. They are a disaster.
Again, the bathrooms are beautiful and 99% of the time the automatic flush toilet will work. But that means 1% of the time it’s a over/under flushed toilets! That future frightens me. I get it is to save water, I get that there are people that abuse the mechanical flush like me, but when there was a time I had to leave a poor soul to intercept a toilet filled to the brim with my un-flushed muck I cannot stand by.
EDIT (March 30th, 2016): I have been informed that there is a button in the New Cabell Bathrooms. However, it is extremely tiny and camouflaged. I maintain the ratings & content for this particular ranking as is to stress the importance of keeping a mechanical future for the bathrooms.
These are the kinds of bathrooms where I feel like I could sleep in for the night, if it ever (when it comes) came to that. They are really spacious, and feel rarely used. Every time I had the opportunity to sneak off to one of these I was alone in a room with plenty of air to breath. There is no natural light, but it feels like it’s there, by virtue of good bulbs and good coloring. Some still have automatic-only toilets and that’s a tragedy, but not all of them do. Solid.
Here are some facts. The nursing school is 92.1% female as of 2015. McLeod Hall is primarily used by nurses. The lighting is excellent. The walls are white. The mirrors are tilted forward giving you an ego boost by
extending your chest up and projecting your arms as larger than they are. The only problem with McLeod’s bathrooms is that most people won’t end up using them, being so far away from most of where people have classes
There’s an argument to be made that Gilmer Hall shouldn’t be #1. It is more commonly used than places like McLeod or Newcomb lower levels, but I think that’s why it has to be #1. It needs to be the symbol for excellence that people can recognize on their day-to-day.
3. (Everywhere else I wanted to review but ran out of room for): Runk area, Lambeth, Brown, Alderman Library, Most Graduate Buildings, the other less new, but still “new” dorms, and the countless other places on Grounds.
In the end the quality of facilities is so high at UVa you are just going to end up using the bathroom closest to you and you will be fine. Still, for fun, for wisdom, and for experience, I recommend whether you are a current student, or someone visiting again after so many years, explore the bathrooms UVa has to offer. There’s so much more to examine. I didn’t even mention the different levels of wheel chair accessibility, the great addition of the Stall Seat Journal or even presence/lack of automatic soap dispensers and paper towels!
So go ahead and notice what you take for granted everyday. You just might find a palace in a bathroom.
As a final note:
I hope this ranking decently mirrors what would be a ranking of female bathrooms but would like to encourage anyone who uses them regularly and has a care for quality to join WUVA and help create a mirrored living document.
 “Sir John Harington”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2016. Web. 23 Mar. 2016 <http://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Harington>.
 Lienhard, John H. “No. 157: Thomas Crapper.” Engines of Our Ingenuity. University of Houston, 1997. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.