This year, among 19 projects presented with blooming honors at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla in October was the newly constructed Ocean Beach comfort station, a highly anticipated beachfront restroom facility that integrates playful design and details, brightly colored tile walls, a cantilevered winged roof and geometric bicycle racks and showers for local beachgoers.
The public restroom, commissioned by the city’s public art program, not only showcases the structural and artistic visions of architects Kevin DeFreitas and Sillman Wright and artist Shinpei Takeda, it also pays homage to the culture and history of Ocean Beach throughout the facility, particularly on its 1,700-square-foot ceiling, which is decaled with interlacing circles of text sourced from Ocean Beach publications over the last decade.
By day, the restroom enjoys natural lighting and ventilation from an elevated gap between the roof and walls — a much-improved experience from the portable beach toilets that occupied the location when the old restroom was demolished a few years ago. By night, the art-adorned ceiling is illuminated with a soft glow, making the facility even more beautiful after the sun goes down.
What is typically a drab facility built out of necessity has been redefined into a potential canvas for sound architecture and masterful works of art, earning the architects and artist of the Ocean Beach comfort station a well-deserved Orchid during this year’s awards ceremony.