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Futuristic Public Toilets Coming to San Francisco

San Francisco's street furniture predates Google, but the city hopes a new design will bring it into the Information Age.
July 25, 2018, 9am PDT | Elana Eden
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The old, less futuristic public toilets.
Mariusz S. Jurgielewicz

Next year, San Francisco will replace the 25 street toilets and 114 matching ad kiosks that dot its streets, reports urban design critic John King.

The green, "mock-Parisian" commodes were installed in the 1990s and mimic the city's historic character. In their search for "elegant, comfortable" design solutions to accommodate human needs, commissioners have considered a series of sleek metallic pods meant to evoke the "merging of nature and technology."

Like the toilets, the new kiosks will bring a new "forward-thinking" aesthetic to public space in the tech-rich city. Many of the originals once held newsstands, and 20 of the new models will likewise house small vendors or art installations. A recent proposal would even outfit kiosks and toilets alike with rooftop gardens—though that concept may prove too ambitious for easy maintenance.

Public toilets are considered critical amenities and important tools for public healthThe project is the first to warrant collaboration between San Francisco's Arts and Historic Preservation commissions, King notes. 

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Published on Thursday, July 19, 2018 in San Francisco Chronicle
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