It had the makings of a great novel or movie. The story was based on…
It makes the bathroom easier to clean.
Mopping, hosing down, and even power-cleaning the floors becomes much easier. With open space for water to flow it makes for faster, more efficient cleaning.
If someone has an emergency and passes out, it’s noticed right away.
In a fully obscured stall, someone could lose consciousness and easily lie there for a long time before being noticed by anyone – meanwhile, each second counts when emergency help is needed. In a toilet stall that doesn’t touch the floor, someone passing out and becoming incapacitated is immediately noticed. They’re also much more easily extracted, as an emergency worker can slip through the bottom to unlock the door versus having to break the door down.
The less enclosed and protected people feel, the less likely they are to engage in risky behavior. A bathroom stall that’s completely enclosed allows people to feel like they’re in private, making engaging in secret, often illegal behaviors (such as drug use) much more likely. Incidences decrease when stalls are open at the bottom, as there’s a level of surveillance, and reminder that a public bathroom is still very much in a public place.
It’s cheaper and easier.
Simple stall divisions can be used in any room, regardless of the flatness of the floor or the height or width of the room. A floor-to-ceiling private stall requires custom cutting and fitting, as well as more materials, so it easily can cost twice as much to build. It just makes more financial sense to go for shorter, more versatile stalls.
It allows for better aeration.
Walking into a fully enclosed stall after someone has gone #2 is a truly gag-inducing experience. Walking into an open stall, by comparison, it’s immediately obvious why better aeration is preferable (arguably essential) for public restroom stalls. The smell, while still bad, is considerably better because of air circulation.
It helps keep the line moving, because you can easily see if a stall is occupied.
According to AmericanRestroom.org, the official answer to this is: “To prevent unnecessary queuing, anyone entering the restroom should be able to easily determine the state of occupancy of stalls. This can be done with doors that do not fully close when not in use or by other devices that signal occupancy.” This definitely isn’t an option in the case with floor-to-ceiling enclosed stalls.
If a lock jams, you can’t get trapped inside.
A stall door or lock can easily become jammed, trapping its occupant inside. However, with a stall gap, you can still escape by crawling underneath, if need be.
Toilet paper can be passed between stalls.
Ever run out of toilet paper in a stall, only to ask your friend (or even a stranger) next to you to save the day and hand you some? There’s no way out of your toilet paper snafu in a floor to ceiling stall – that surprisingly common move is simply and tragically impossible.