UNM DPAC studio in news for designing bathrooms for the homeless in Coronado Park

March 19, 2019 - Brittany Costello

>UNM architecture students designing bathrooms for the homeless

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- UNM architecture students are working with the city to find a place for homeless people to use the restroom.

Both the city and the university believe the lack of bathrooms for the homeless is an important health issue that needs to be addressed.

“From the perspective of the environmental health worker thinking about hepatitis outbreaks, from the behavioral health worker who is thinking about safe needle locations,” said Michaele Pride, a Professior of UNM School of Architecture and Planning. “Or how residents call police because there's poop in the alley behind their homes.”

Michaele Pride is part of the HIVE (Health Inclusion Vibrancy and Equity) network. HIVE is a campus community collaborative dedicated to addressing social determinants of health, according to a UNM spokesperson.

The students created seven concepts that focused on Coronado Park, an area of the city that sees many homeless populations.

“There’s this money, one percent of any construction bond goes to public art. There’s a lot of money for sewers and so that money for public art can be used if you design these as pieces of public art or with public art in them, which again does another thing. It makes them more dignified,” said Mark Childs, Associate Dean of Research at the School of Architecture and Planning.

Five other concepts were aimed at other areas in the city.

Anita Sandoval, Cheyenne Gurule and Jasmine Casados said their goal was to create a place where everyone feels safe.

They came up with a facility that is well-lit and displays art on panel pieces. It would have a toilet, or shower, and would provide a needle disposal site.

“We did want it to be like a landmark,” Casados said. “Once you saw these we wanted to make sure you knew what it was.”

That was just one among a number of concepts; some ranged from making the toilet into an art piece, others used the space under an interstate overpass as a health clinic.

The goal is to continue to the conversation with the stakeholders. That includes presentations with city officials, chamber of commerce, even business owners.

Because much of the problem centers around city parks, parks and rec officials said they are looking for a long term solution to the restroom problem.