They count as one fixture. I’m talking about those hi-lo drinking fountains you see everywhere (and that are pictured here)…like in the lobby of the Delta Plex or Van Andel Arena.
Now, you may think two people can drink from them at the same time (which of course they can) but as far as us architects are concerned, they collectively only count as one fixture. And while we’re on the subject, the difference between a drinking fountain and electric water cooler is, you guessed it, electricity! The powered ones have a chiller built into them to make your drink a cool and tasty experience; drinking fountains do not!
The drinking fountains are typically installed in high-activity areas like gymnasiums, and fitness rooms because the extra cold water can be too big of a ‘shock’ to the system when you’re sweating. And you also don’t need chilled water in a spit-sink, which you’ll usually find right next to it! Yuk!
To start with, establishing the ‘correct’ quantity of drinking fountains can become a bit challenging when discussing them with both building Owners (who usually don’t want more than absolutely necessary) and building inspectors (a.k.a. the AHJ’s: Authority Having Jurisdiction). The other twist in the equation[s], is that a certain quantity of them has to be handicap accessible.
Determining the ‘required’ number of fixtures can require as much creativity as went into designing the building itself, because [at times] its a bit of a grey area when coming up with the occupant load for a building.
Example: When you design a bar / restaurant, you have to use different square-foot values whether the occupant is standing, or seated at a table. So how do you determine the area say right behind the barstools? Experience will help get you thru this task, but the number can have a ripple effect for other code requirements like doors, and HVAC systems, so making an intelligent choice here is important!
Anyway, barrier-free requirements say that you need a high AND a low fountain because handicap doesn’t always mean wheel-chair! That may be a bit surprising to some of you, but if you have a bad back and are on crutches, it could be difficult to bend WAY over to get a drink, therefore the ‘hi’ fixture becomes as important as the low one to satisfy the ADA requirement. So there you have a few of the ups and downs of the fountains you see in this world; now all you need is how to decide which one to use!
Don’t forget to sign-up for your free subscription using the tab above…and of course, comments are always
welcome at: [email protected] Thanks for reading!
Good decisions come from experience, and experience comes from bad decisions. ~ Author Unknown
# # #