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Straits State Park Toilet/Shower Buildings

Architect: Straub Pettitt Yaste Architects

Posted: February 8, 2018 | Projects

Straits State Park in St. Ignace is one of Michigan’s most popular state parks. Located across from Mackinac Island, the park offers spectacular views from many vantage points, including an observation deck and individual campsites.

The park has a seasonal campground with toilet/shower facilities serving the public during the summer months. Centrally-located toilet/shower facilities are equipped with hot showers, flush toilets, and two sanitation stations. Convenient to the campground is an overlook platform for viewing the Mackinac Bridge and Straits of Mackinac.

Two existing toilet/shower buildings in the lower campground had passed their useful visitor service and operational life expectancy, and had been slated for improvement. Michigan Department of Natural Resources Parks and Recreation Division (MDNR PRD) had a standard plan and supporting technical studies for replacement toilet/shower buildings.

The project started with a preliminary analysis. This analysis included a base-line study to investigate cost-effective building improvement options. The goal was to provide an improved and practical toilet/shower building visitor experience that was operationally efficient in maintenance and upkeep. Options included the construction of new buildings within the existing building locations and the possible use of pre-manufactured structures.

The study report recommendation was to proceed with the design of two facilities, using the prefabricated construction methodology. The floor plan layout and elevations of the prefabricated units were appropriately designed specifically for the Straits State Park requirements.

A number of aesthetic options were available for consideration as the design process moved into the Preliminary Design Phase. Masonry walls, metal roofs, and low- or no-maintenance materials and systems were incorporated into the design and specifications. In addition, the design character was appropriate for the Straits State Park environment, while also incorporating all the detailed functional requirements.

The project design challenges included designing a quality and harmonious prefabricated building while taking into consideration all the limits and opportunities of prefabricated systems. The design tasks encompassed creating covered and protected building entrances, facilitating daily and seasonal operational efficiencies, and developing the proper design expression with appropriate forms, materials, and finishes. The overall goal was to not be limited by the prefabricated company's catalog suggestions and standards, but to use design thinking and creativity to successfully respond to functional needs and achieve all project goals.

Ultimately, the initial construction documents were prepared to allow for a prefabricated building system or a conventional site-built system (depending on total cost). The hope was to determine definitively the best-value construction method for the MDNR Parks and Recreation Division (since there are over 100 state parks with multiple toilet facilities).

However, when the bids arrived, surprisingly the conventional site-built system toilet/shower buildings were nearly 25% less expensive than the prefabricated building system. Thus, the conventional site-built construction was fabricated at the Straits State Park, and became the preferred future methodology for the other Michigan state parks with multiple toilet systems.


Roofing: Metal Sales
Windows, Entrances & Storefronts: Northern Michigan Glass

Straub Pettitt Yaste Architects
850 N. Crooks Road, #200
Clawson, MI 48017

Mechanical Engineer
Potapa Van Hoosear Engineering
48653 Van Dyke Avenue
Shelby Township, MI 48317

Electrical Engineer
TAC Associates, LLC
4321 E. Camden Road
Osseo, MI 49266

General Contractor
Ripman Construction Company, Inc.
2026 S. Maple Valley Road
Saint Helen, MI 48656

Location: Saint Ignace, Michigan
Date Bid: Feb 2015
Construction Period: Sep 2015 to Jun 2016
Total Square Feet: 1,994
Site: .5 acres.
Number of Buildings: Two.
Building Sizes: East building, first floor, 997; west building, first floor, 997; total, 1,994 square feet.
Building Height: East building, first floor, 11'10"; west building, first floor, 11'10"; total, 11'10".
Basic Construction Type: New/II B.
Foundation: Cast-in-place, reinforced concrete, slab-on-grade, CMU.
Exterior Walls: CMU.
Roof: Metal.
Floors: Concrete.
Interior Walls: CMU.

View full project details in magazine issue January-February 2018