Potty Talk: Barnum’s Last Act


Barnum Hall is known for its status as the only beautiful building accessible to humanities students, but its anomalous bathrooms are lesser known. Renovated from 2018 to 2019, Barnum’s visionaries seem to have had a more naive view of what a bathroom might be like than the stark designers of newer buildings like the Cummings Center. Instead of being designed for efficiency, Barnum’s bathrooms are an ode to idiosyncrasy.


This bathroom is so cavernous that I spent about 15 minutes screaming just to marvel at the awesome echo. It’s like telling someone they have a defined space for a bathroom, made up of a list of about four things that often go in bathrooms, randomly arranging them, and then forgetting to finish the job. The most fascinating omission is the lack of a mirror – a nod to PT Barnum’s famous ascetic lifestyle.

The only decoration is a single sign detailing how to wash my hands, but without a mirror I couldn’t verify that I was following the instructions correctly. This barrier can cause people to refrain from washing their hands altogether.

He doesn’t live up to the Barnum surname but has plenty of room for improvement, meaning he’ll get a 6/10 prospect.


Although technically quite private, the abundance of open spaces made me feel a bit uneasy 6/10.


The bathroom I’m looking at is on Barnum’s second floor, which makes it convenient for campus walks, but only if you have time to walk through Barnum’s stairs and deal with Barnum’s signs that have arrows suggesting multiple paths to your destination.

This bathroom also has a shower, but just like the showers discussed in chronicle of the last semester, it lacks the necessary amenities. It is stored without soap or shampoo, which makes it more of a decoration than a real convenience. Also, the shower floor is flush with the floor. Dear reader, if you didn’t know, being low to the ground is to shower design what unsliced ​​bread is to bread design – an absolute disaster. If left running, the shower will undoubtedly flood the bathroom. The architects attempted to mitigate this effect by placing a drain in the shower section of the bathroom. Having a drain outside the shower is no substitute for good design!

A reasonably good location and the option of a (albeit imperfect) bathing experience earn this bathroom a 6.5/10 on convenience.


This bathroom has the merit of having a small protrusion on the toilet seat which can be used to place it in a sitting or standing position. Also, the paper towel dispenser is the type that only needs to be touched if it malfunctions, but this is a reasonably probable event. Still too tactile for my taste. 3/10.

Too odd to be truly avant-garde, this spartan shower room scores a 5.4.


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