Public space finds low-maintenance, enduring sanitizing fixture
During the planning stage for a new public library in Houston, the local residents sought a community destination. The goal was to create a space that was visually impressive and offered state-of-the-art amenities.
The result is a facility that has quickly become a model for other communities to emulate.
Situated on the second floor of the Alief Neighborhood Center, the library is the centerpiece of a multipurpose, cutting-edge facility, the first of its kind in Houston. In addition to the library, the building houses a health clinic and senior center. Surrounding the building is a 38-acre park containing a huge playground, public pool, skate park and athletic fields and courts.
Because libraries are extremely high-touch spaces, library staff wanted to offer multiple opportunities for people to clean their hands. For such a sophisticated space, it was frustrating that the options for sanitizer dispensers were so inadequate.
“We started making hand sanitizer readily available since the swine flu pandemic over a decade ago,” said Jason Stephens, Houston Public Library systems services manager. But dispensers never lasted very long. “Keeping them full and operational was a huge challenge.” They could never keep up with the high demand of such a busy public space.
When Stephens came across Vaask’s hand sanitizing fixture at the NeoCon trade show, he could hardly contain his excitement.
“I immediately grabbed my colleagues and told them, ‘You have got to come see this!’ ” Stephens said. “I was really impressed with how clean and professional it looked, and how intuitive it was to use.”
Everything about the 70,000-square-foot modern building is designed to make a visual impact. Outside, the steel and glass structure dominates the surrounding landscape. Inside, patrons enjoy the stunning views of the grounds visible from the beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows.
Both Stephens and Raiset Ruben Valiente, a Houston Public Library project manager, believed it was important for every detail of the library, from the architecture to the fixtures, to be consistent with the aesthetics of the space.
Six fixtures on freestanding pedestals are installed throughout the library. The white fixtures with brushed chrome “sink and faucet” have been a perfect match.
“Vaask is very much in line with the design of the entire space,” Valiente said.
But appearance was only part of the equation; exceptional functionality and ease of maintenance were equally important.
“One of the things we were trying to solve was having to constantly deal with broken dispensers,” Stephens said. Because the all-metal fixtures are built to last, this is no longer an issue. Backed by a 5-year warranty, Vaask fixtures are constructed of cast aluminum and feature a 2-liter sanitizer tank that needs to be refilled less often. The units also run on A/C power, freeing staff from replacing batteries and ensuring they are always operating.
The fixtures are being used by more than library patrons. A unit located near an elevator outside the library also gets traffic from people visiting other parts of the community center.
“Vaask is superior in every way,” Stephens said. They’ve worked so well, he plans to include recessed units in future Houston library projects, including two branches scheduled to be completed this year.
Click here to see Vaask in action.