The Most Important Interior Design Contest Ever

Every year since 2002, the Cintas Corporation has selected the nation’s most prestigious privies and solicited Internet votes to decide the winners of the America’s Best Restroom Award. Top prize this year goes to a piece of over-the-top lavatory opulence in Branson, Missouri: the Shoji Tabuchi Theatre, whose ladies’ room (above) includes stained-glass windows, cut orchids, granite-and-onyx sinks, chandeliers, and a “ceiling reproduced from the 1890’s Empire Period.” Yow.

The other four finalists are not quite as lavish:

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In New York, Radio City Music Hall’s 1930s-era restrooms feature classic tile work and Art Deco details.

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Best Restrooms voters also liked the columns-and-chandeliers look of the 1866 Tremont Plaza Hotel, in Baltimore.

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OK, who voted for this? The Zeffirino Ristorante, at the Venetian hotel and casino in Las Vegas, supposedly has the fourth-best restroom in the nation.

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And, lastly,we have Chicago’s Drake Hotel. I think that’s a makeup table.

It’s a shame that these picks are so unimaginative, as there have been a few really interesting restroom designs in recent years. Two in New York leap to mind:

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There’s Frank Gehry’s multichromatic tile extravaganza for his IAC headquaters . . .

. . . . and the thoroughly glam restrooms in the New Museum. Oh, well–maybe next year.

IAC photo: Albert Vecerka/Esto; New Museum photo: Rusel Parish for NYTimes.com

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