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Will they take the throne? New York-JFK restrooms are finalists for America's Best Restroom

July 25, 2021
4 min read
Will they take the throne? New York-JFK restrooms are finalists for America's Best Restroom
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Cleanliness is without a doubt at the top of travelers’ minds right now. So it's encouraging to learn that the renovated restrooms in Terminal 4 at New York-JFK are among the finalists for the 2021 America’s Best Restroom contest.

The Cintas-sponsored contest, now in its 20th year, celebrates innovative and hygienic public restrooms across the country. And JFK’s new set of loos on the east side of the customs arrival hall certainly fit the bill.

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In the finalist blurb, these restrooms are described as “easy to find, easy to clean, and a spacious 900 square feet.” Designed by global architectural firm Woods Bagot, the new JFK lavatories are also quite stylish, with entrances framed by teal back-painted glass adorned with graphics of iconic New York City landmarks. Inside are bright white terrazzo flooring, marbleized walls and delicate wall sconces.

The T4 restrooms at New York-JFK. (Photo courtesy of JFKIAT)

What else put these new lavs in the running for a seat on the throne as America’s Best Restroom this year?

Here is a bit more from the finalist description:

Calcutta porcelain tile lines the women’s vanity area, and a thoughtful raised shelf behind the sink provides the perfect spot to freshen up after a long flight.
Full height wood laminate partitions provide privacy and a touch of warmth to an otherwise clean, bright space.
The T4 restrooms at New York-JFK. (Photo courtesy of JFKIAT)

For an airport restroom, it does sound inviting. Especially when you consider the “before” the design team was given.

“When our team toured the existing restroom at the international customs hall of Terminal 4, it was dreary, outdated and tough to keep clean,” says Jessica Culver, the lead designer on the project. “Our vision for the space, which occupied the same 900-square-foot footprint with minimal construction revisions, was an upgraded, hospitality-driven space that acted as more than just a quick rest stop for tired passengers.”

The New York-JFK T4 restrooms before renovation. (Photo courtesy of Woods Bagot)

As you might imagine, the Terminal 4 operator, JFK International Air Terminal, is flushed with pride that its new restrooms are in the running for the quirky title of America’s Best Restroom.

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“Woods Bagot’s design for our newly renovated restrooms is the latest initiative in line with the Port Authority's goal to make JFK a world-class airport,” Roel Huinink, president and CEO of JFKIAT, told TPG. “We are very pleased that the renovations are being considered as a finalist for this recognition, and we hope that our customers enjoy the new look and feel of the space.”

While impressive, JFK’s renovated restrooms have strong competition for this year’s title.

Other finalists include the word-adorned walls in the restrooms at the Planet Word museum in Washington, D.C., and a set of portable toilets in Santa Rosa, California, that has touchless faucets, air conditioning, ambient music, adjustable lighting, countertop decor and a hospitality tray with hand towels and other toiletries.

Also on the finalist list: the restroom at Two Cities Pizza in Cincinnati. This loo re-creates a New York City subway station with a subway platform, train car, station stops playing over the speaker, authentic subway handles above the sinks, and graffiti on the walls.

You can see the full list of the 10 restroom finalists here and vote for your favorite. The winner will be added to America’s Best Restroom Hall of Fame and receive an UltraClean restroom cleaning service and $2,500 in services from contest sponsor Cintas.

Going with the flow: JFK not the first airport loo to make the list

While exciting, this is not the first time a U.S. airport has been in the running for America’s Best Restroom. In fact, you could say airport restrooms have been on a roll.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) won the contest in 2016. And in 2005, Arkansas’ Fort Smith Regional Airport (FSM) took home the top prize.

Other airports that floated onto the list of finalists over the years include Quad City International Airport (MLI) in 2006, Tampa International Airport (TPA) in 2013, LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) in 2019 and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) in 2020.

Featured image by The T4 restrooms at New York-JFK. (Photo courtesy of JFKIAT)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.