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Garden Loos

The Hermitage Museum redefines visitor amenities with its artful, sustainable Loos, blending history, functionality, and environmental consciousness.

Constructed in 1908 as a bucolic summer residence, the Hermitage Museum has evolved into a hub of cultural enrichment, fostering a connection with the community through its extensive art collection, vibrant gardens, and educational programs. Its nationally acclaimed collection and special exhibits focus on stimulating the public's interest in art, while its 12-acre verdant grounds provide a picturesque backdrop for a variety of cultural and social events, including weddings and concerts.

Historically, the logistical challenge of accommodating the sanitary needs of large crowds was met with porta-potties, which fell short of the venue's aesthetic and functional requirements. The necessity for a more integrated solution led to the innovative creation of the "Loos," a 530-square-foot facility housing several single private restrooms. Designed with sensitivity to the site's architectural and ecological context, the facility extends the museum's commitment to art and nature into every aspect of its infrastructure.

Integrating seamlessly with the existing garden wall, the Loos harmonize with their surroundings while adding a contemporary edge. Though modest in size, they are bold in concept, featuring a polished stainless steel mirror wall that reflects the surrounding gardens and invites visitor engagement. 

The interior of each restroom is a tranquil capsule of artistic expression, highlighted by splashes of garden colors and millstones from the original property embedded in the concrete floors, echoing the site's historical narrative.

The design effectively accommodates tidal floodwaters, enabling them to pass through without damaging the structure or its finishes. This not only safeguards the building but also serves as an educational showcase of resilient design, reflecting the museum's commitment to environmental consciousness. Similar to the museum's art collection, this project stands as an artifact in its own right, embodying the museum's mission to integrate education, art, and sustainability into the visitor experience.

  • Award of Merit, AIA Virginia, 2021
  • Merit Award, AIA Hampton Roads, 2019
  • Jurors’ Choice Award, HRACRE, 2019
  • Award of Excellence, Best Institutional/Public Building, HRACRE, 2019
Project Team
Jane Cady Rathbone
Design Principal
Andy Craven
Project Manager
Jeffrey G. Butts, Jr.
Wesley L. Page
E.T. Gresham Company
Bamforth Engineers + Surveyors
Civil Engineering
Sinclair Pratt Cameron
Structural Engineering