When it comes to designing things for city living, whether it’s the infrastructure or even little details—like park benches or public washrooms, you expect they will be made with people in mind. But it turns out that’s often far from the case.

Recently, Sahra Sulaiman, the communities editor for Streetsblog L.A., shared an illuminating thread about soap dispensers in LAX bathrooms. “The worker struggling to refill soaps in the LAX bathroom said she just wished architects and designers consulted with the workers that had to maintain the spaces about whether their form would actually be functional,” she wrote in a tweet amassing 126k likes.

Soon it became clear that Sahra is not the only one frustrated by how nonfunctionally public spaces are sometimes designed. More people joined the thread to share their own observations and experiences, so dear designers and architects, please take notes!

Image credits: sahrasulaiman

#1

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

Priya_H Report

Danish Dynomummy
Community Member
4 months ago

Oh yeah the neverending ponytail and bun struggle is real... my SO always tells me I look like the Bendneck Lady when I drive lol

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Urban design is concerned with the arrangement, appearance and function of our suburbs, towns and cities. It is both a process and an outcome of creating localities in which people live, engage with each other, and engage with the physical place around them in the modern world.

According to the United Nations (U.N.), 68% of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050, compared with 2% at the beginning of the 19th century, 30% in 1950 and 55% in 2018. The current urbanization is represented in hard-to-believe figures. The world’s largest city, Tokyo, which had a population of roughly 37 million in 2020, is expected to be overtaken in 2028 by New Delhi, the capital of India.

#2

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

thatsmyfullname Report

Victor Trejo
Community Member
4 months ago

Also, in Japan, bathrooms have a sort of ledge where you can place your stuff while using the urinals. There are also hooks to hang your umbrella or bags.

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#3

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

daellelynn Report

Brian Bennett
Community Member
4 months ago

Because that would be using common sense! Apparently this too is a waning commodity!

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#4

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

manndaraee Report

NsG
Community Member
4 months ago

There shouldn't have been a fight because it shouldn't have been an "if". The discussion should have started from "where do we put the disposal?"

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But you don’t have to look at metropolises to realize how much and how fast our environment is changing. Pick just about any city, the one that you live in right now, and it will seem both familiar and new at the same time. So today designers and urban planners face incredible challenges—to make sure the public spaces, infrastructure, and resources cater to the people who live there.

#5

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

courtnaymarieg Report

CLG
Community Member
4 months ago

Those are indeed the worst, and seem to be popular with "sleek" contemporary designs. A huge sink with the spout reaching 1" past the edge so you have to press your hands against the side of the basin to access the water.

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#6

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

WaitressTweets Report

Chich
Community Member
4 months ago

My one experience with what I now take to be a purse hook was when they were installed on the face of the bar just where your knee would find them when sitting on the stool.

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#7

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

rumpbackwhale Report

John Smith
Community Member
4 months ago

Was the designer bloody stupid johnson?

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There are many ways to approach urban development that promote healthy living and longevity through a variety of design practices. Areas called “Blue Zones” are one of them. Dan Buettner, the author of the concept who wrote about for National Geographic, found that these communities had lower incidents of cancer and heart disease, fewer cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, a higher percentage of the population in their 90s and 100s, and were generally happier.

#8

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

jawillia11 Report

Ozacoter
Community Member
4 months ago

In general things are designed with the worst way for handicap people. Urban architects and engineers should live a month in a wheelchair or with a stroller before they do things. For example the metro at my parents city is """adapted""" for us, they put a beautiful sticker and cheered of how amazing they are. The metros are taller than the platforms and it leaves a small step. Small enough that a walking person wont notice but bit enough that my disabilities scotter cannot get there...

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#9

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

Tikon2000 Report

SusanS
Community Member
4 months ago

Only the wealthy can afford to become an architect in America.

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#10

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

jamaicanjogger Report

Danish Dynomummy
Community Member
4 months ago

BP taught me that those gaps in the stalls i an American thing. Sooo happy we dont have those

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According to Joe Pobiner, Planning and Urban Design expert and advisor, urban design that follows the concept of Blue Zones includes: walkable environments to reduce the need for cars; increased vertical density and mixed-use diversity to encourage walking; a mix of housing options to encourage a multi-generational population; a mix of development types beyond residential and office spaces; local gathering places, parks, and plazas; locally owned farm-to-table restaurants; community gardens and rooftop gardens, and so on.

#11

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

laurengoodwitch Report

Jess
Community Member
4 months ago

Wasteful and disgusting. Flushing sends up particles into the air and can spread across the bathroom so you breathe in the aerosolized waste or the potentially harmful bacteria/viruses from stool, urine, vomit...

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#12

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

Direrain72 Report

Mr Neil
Community Member
4 months ago

Bring a roll of blue painters tape and put a piece over the sensor while you clean then move it to the next toilet when you finish that one. It will keep it from flushing

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#13

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

BreadMeat Report

Steffen Rehm
Community Member
4 months ago

Yeah, we got a new delivery ramp years back, so we do not need to use the public entrance anymore. Turns out we use the public entrance since them anyways, because the ramp is highly unsafe and horrible to work with. The architect is still mad at us, he think, it was a great idea.

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Pobiner argues that today, walkability and access to green spaces are top selling points. “Buyers want neighborhoods that offer new architecture, land uses, and technology—areas that create 'intelligent' density conducive to walking and biking, and that are less costly and more sustainable,” he explains.

#14

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

ShekinahCanCook Report

Francis
Community Member
4 months ago

my bf who is a chef also hates sinks that are to small for a very large pot and/or too far away from the stove so that you have to carry the big, full and therefor heavy pot to the stove. it's something he hates in his professional kitchen and in our ymall privat one LOL

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#15

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

Lenabanks4real Report

Brian Bennett
Community Member
4 months ago

You can't hang it on the hook at the top of the door if it has one - it can be reached by a determined thief. And who wants to put it on the floor

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#16

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

emmmmmmber Report

Pamda Panda
Community Member
4 months ago (edited)

I had to get a glob of soap on my hands and let a little girl swipe it off because the soap dispensers were impossible for her to reach. This was at a ski resort, with ski schools and everything. Main lodge at the bottom of the mountain

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#17

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

biancaanchor Report

Big Blue Cat
Community Member
4 months ago

Yeah, place where I used to work had floor to ceiling glass walls on conference rooms. Then they had to add curtains because you know, sometimes you might be sharing something you can't announce to the whole company. Also it is a distraction when you are in a meeting in a glass cube and you see people outside the cube passing by.

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#18

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

snittens Report

Mark Vosters
Community Member
4 months ago

And how about designing parking lots in northern climates that snow plows can actually maneuver around

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#19

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

k_fernholz Report

Ogre Juan
Community Member
4 months ago

A Brand High School (1991) Had A Chemistry Lab With An Emergency Shower But NO Floor Drain--Contaminated Water Everywhere

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#20

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

tealwaxelbaum Report

Jenn C
Community Member
4 months ago

At my McDonald's the stall is so short they had to cut a hole in the door so it could swing past the toilet when it opened. You had to stand beside the toilet to get in or out.

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#21

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

hats_n_politics Report

Paula Marowsky
Community Member
4 months ago

Every time software is 'upgraded', becomes inevitably worse.

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#22

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

MissKitTKat1 Report

John Smith
Community Member
4 months ago

I have repeatedly seen paper towel dispensers that you grab the towel to pull some out, but the damn thing is set so tight all you get is a very small handful of paper. Bloody useless.

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#23

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

NotAcquiescing Report

Eucritta
Community Member
4 months ago

And/or there's a 'vessel sink' like a honking great mixing bowl on a high counter. I've thought, I hope whoever designed this mess has to use this very bathroom when they're old and arthritic, and see how -they- like it.

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#24

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

BobOzier Report

Carbonel
Community Member
4 months ago

I’ve heard about lots of school libraries that were centrally placed in their buildings …fantastic! Centrally placed in an atrium … not fantastic. (No walls = no crowd control, no noise control, no stock control…)

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#25

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

belehakalife Report

Nicole A
Community Member
4 months ago

At a school I taught in they put the drains in the center but sloped the floors UPWARDS towards the drains. So nothing would run in the drain unless the entire room was flooded with 1.5 inches of liquid. Our poor janitor was always fighting with the bathrooms and especially the ones for the little kids with bad aim. He'd have to hose the floor down and then sweep the pissy water towards the drains for a half hour to attempt to clean things.

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#26

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

Wishful_Thinker Report

Ogre Juan
Community Member
4 months ago

Disney Had A Coaster W/ Animatronic Bigfoot That Is Static Now. Movement Cracked The Foundation And Can Only Be Braced. A Proper Fix Would Have To Dismantle The Entire Ride. Too Expensive They Said

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#27

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

Jessica_Kate_91 Report

StellaLehggs
Community Member
4 months ago

The art department at my college was connected to the architecture building, and they were the ugliest buildings on campus. The bathrooms were small and dark, the lighting was horrible throughout, the elevator would frequently stop a few inches above the floor and was slow as hell, which meant that more often than not, you were hauling projects and art supplies up a narrow flight of stairs. 😑

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#28

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

k_fernholz Report

Kimi Tomminello
Community Member
4 months ago

Time traveler?

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#29

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

kcarroll9 Report

Otter
Community Member
4 months ago

Uh... was that bad design, or good?

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#30

People-Share-Architects-Designers-Biggest-Mistakes-Struggles

youfoundbethany Report

Ellie Rosser
Community Member
4 months ago

Also dishwashers! It's bad enough having to bend down to load one (really, can't the top be higher than the bench without causing armageddon?) but when you have to twist as well to reach the place where dirty dishes are stored before going in then that's just beyond irritating. Also, if I can't walk past it when the door is open I am not happy.

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Note: this post originally had 38 images. It’s been shortened to the top 30 images based on user votes.