The idea for a Public restroom began with Portland’s City Commissioner, Randy Leonard. The city of Portland had seen a rise in the homeless population and without restroom facilities the homeless were left to find somewhere else to take care of business. Having a restroom open 24 hours a day provided full public access without disturbing local businesses for their restroom facilities. While this problem is not unique to Portland, most cities as well as parks are realizing the need for a public restroom.
Since the Portland Loo was intended to be open year round, ensuring safety and cleanliness needed to be a priority. Making certain the occupants would not loiter, but still allow privacy, was a needed feature of the Loo. The Loo has angled lower louvers that allow viewing of the floor but never expose more than the occupant’s feet. By coating the restroom in anti-graffiti powder coating, it is able to stay clean with little maintenance. A hand washing station was placed on the outside to encourage users to leave the restroom to wash, rather than continue to occupy it thus allowing more efficient use should a line were to form. On the restroom’s roof is a solar panel, which charges batteries that power the lights. Since solar power alone won’t always be enough, there is also a fixed AC cable, which ensures that the restroom will always function.
The Loo is made from heavy 304 stainless steel but is engineered to be light enough for easy transport to unique locations. It is large enough to be handicap accessible and hold a stroller or bike for the occupant. The first Loo was installed in downtown Portland at 5th and Glisan in 2008. The location was near the Portland Train Station and several nightclubs to accommodate the volume of pedestrians that travel through the area.