Tens of thousands of New Yorkers–along with visitors from across the country and around the world–came together this year for the 15th Anniversary Open House New York Weekend, crisscrossing the five boroughs in celebration of architecture, urban design, and New York City. From Fort Tilden on the Rockaway Peninsula to Woodlawn Cemetery at the city’s northern reaches, from the catacombs of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine to the skybridge of the American Copper Buildings, this year’s Weekend gave visitors unparalleled access to the city, deepening our understanding of the complexities of design, construction, and preservation, and providing a visceral reminder of how thoughtful design can immeasurably enrich our day-to-day lives.

Our deepest thanks to all of you who made it possible: all of our sponsors, without whose support there would be no OHNY Weekend; our site hosts, more than 400 intrepid individuals and organizations who opened their doors and hosted tours and talks at nearly 250 buildings and projects; our 1,000 volunteers who helped manage crowds with kindness and grace; and the tens of thousands of visitors who imbue this event with boundless energy and enthusiasm. 

 

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Photo: OHNY Weekend Volunteers by Ben Helmer.

Looking to escape from the hustle and bustle for a day? Book a car through ReachNow and head over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge for a daycation on Staten Island, the most bucolic of New York City’s five boroughs! It may lack palm trees, but this island has more than enough serene spots and architectural wonders to make you feel as if you’re worlds away from the rest of the city. To maximize your “island getaway” experience, we’ve put together an itinerary featuring sea breezes, quiet retreats, and local brews (don’t forget to draw straws for designated driver in advance).

 

11am: Battery Weed

No island getaway is complete without a visit to an historic fort! Right at the foot of the Verrazanno-Narrows Bridge on the Staten Island side, you’ll find one of the city’s most striking ruins. On the 11am tour, National Park Service rangers will take you and your friends through Battery Weed, where you’ll learn all about the network of forts that defended New York harbor for centuries. (Saturday only!)

 

12pm: Alice Austen House

After the fort, head up the shore to the neighborhood of Rosebank, where you can tour the historic home of trailblazing photographer Alice Austen. Relax on Austen’s Victorian Gothic porch, then take a stroll around the picturesque grounds and do some daydreaming about what it’d be like to have your own country estate with a trillion-dollar view of the Manhattan skyline in the misty distance.

 

1pm: Our Lady of Mount Carmel Grotto

We know a thing or two about New York’s hidden gems, so believe us when we say that there’s nothing in the city quite like this hidden grotto. Tucked away in the middle of a block a short walk from the Alice Austen House, this remarkable work of communal folk art has been built and expanded in stages for almost a century using local materials. Pop in and speak with the caretakers; it’s a site you won’t soon forget.

 

2pm: Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art

Next, head toward the center of the island, where you’ll find a museum built to resemble a Himalayan monastery. Marchais designed her museum to create a “retreat-like setting”—perfect for island-getaway-style enjoyment. Meditation Expert Jackie Hawken will give a talk at 2pm, while the kids can make their own prayer flags!

 

 

4pm: Flagship Brewing Company

If you’re feeling thirsty after a full day of exploration, head up to the Flagship Brewing Company and catch the 4pm brewery tour, then kick back in their on-site Tasting Room with some locally brewed drinks! What better way to end your relaxing island getaway?

 

About ReachNow
Open House New York is partnering with ReachNow to give you the easiest way to reach all your OHNY Weekend destinations. Based in Brooklyn, ReachNow has over 250 MINI and BMW vehicles available to rent by the minute, by the hour, or by the day! Make the most of your OHNY Weekend with ReachNow. Sign up with OHNY for $15 in driving credit, free. Download the app (iOS or Android) and enter OHNY17NOW in the promos section.

Use dsgnfix to find your way during OHNY Weekend. dsgnfix is a free media site and location-based app for the entire creative community. During OHNY Weekend, all Open Access sites that can be visited free of charge and without reservations will be listed on dsgnfix with addresses, times, and a corresponding map. It’s a great tool to find where to go next and discover sites that are closest to you based on your location.

You can also use dsgnfix to explore and share great architecture and design destinations. Post templates help you share what you discover along the way and how a building, park, streetscape, view, restaurant, shop, or architectural detail inspires you. Invite your friends to follow you, comment, and share your posts.

dsgnfix is global. After OHNY Weekend, continue to use dsgnfix to explore where you live or wherever you travel. You’re in good company. All dsgnfix stories and posts are curated by leaders in architecture and design, or members of the dsgnfix community who share your passion for navigating the world through the lens of design.

To start planning your OHNY Weekend visit dsgnfix.com and select the blue “Featured Curator” tab for OHNY Weekend. To access the map view, select the pin icon on the top right corner.

While the majority of sites open during OHNY Weekend are Open Access and can be visited free of charge and without reservations on a first-come-first-served basis on October 14 and 15, some sites and tours require Advance Reservations due to space or security restrictions. Information about all sites and tours can be viewed at ohny.org starting on October 4. Advance Reservations begin on Thursday, October 5 at 11 am.

In 2016, more than 12,000 reservation slots went live on Reservation Day, and 10,000 were booked within the first hour. If you’re a seasoned OHNY Weekend participant, you know it’s an intense day for everyone regardless of how successful you might have been in getting the tours you wanted. What Adele and Beyonce are to concerts or Hamilton is to Broadway musicals, OHNY Weekend is to buildings, and Reservation Day generates a range of emotions that run from exhilaration to frustration. 

If this is your first Reservation Day, we recommend taking a few points into consideration as you get ready for the big day. Above all, keep in mind that tens of thousands of people compete for limited spots. In 2017 we had upwards of 37,000 users on our website on Reservation Day, who viewed more than 340,000 pages…in one day! While OHNY staff makes every effort to work with site hosts to facilitate as much access as possible, some sites have very limited capacity, and tours can be booked seconds after reservations open. If it seemed like all of the tours sold out immediately, it is because in large part they did. If there are 100 slots at a site and 2,000 people are trying to reserve tickets, it can literally come down to a difference of milliseconds!

Where to Go
OHNY uses Eventbrite to manage all reservations for OHNY Weekend. Each Advanced Reservation tour has its own web listing at ohny.org and a corresponding reservation page on Eventbrite. Reservation links to Eventbrite will go live on each site’s webpage on ohny.org at 11 AM EST on Thursday, October 5. A list of all Advance Reservation tours with links to each Eventbrite page will also be posted on ohny.org/weekend/reservations at that time, as well as on OHNY’s Facebook page and the OHNY blog.

How it Works
There is a $5 fee, per guest, for each reservation, and you will be able to reserve up to two spots at a time. If you are reserving for more than two people on a tour, you will need to go through the reservation process multiple times. This is done to ensure that no one guest is able to book large numbers of spots on any one tour. Once you begin a reservation, Eventbrite gives you eight minutes to complete your reservation, so have your payment information ready before you begin. Note that Eventbrite only allows you to have one active registration at a time so you will not get an edge by trying to register for multiple tours at once. 

Speed it Up
You do not need an Eventbrite account to make reservations for OHNY Weekend tours, but having one can help speed up the reservation process, as Eventbrite will save your name, address, and credit card info (if you grant it permission to do so). This cuts down on the time each reservation will take to complete.

Know your Priorities
The more excited you are about a tour, the better the chances that lots of other people are excited about it, too. Try your top choice first, but also have a backup ready. Because it comes down to milliseconds, Reservation Day is a lot like a lottery – if you’re lucky, you’ll hit the reserve now button a millisecond faster than someone else. If not, there are more than 140 Open Access sites that don’t require reservations. 

Open What?
The majority of sites participating in OHNY Weekend can be visited on a first-come-first-served basis without reservations on October 14 and 15. These sites are Open Access because they don’t have the same space and security issues as Advance Reservation sites do. If you can’t get a reservation for a tour, there are still many beautiful, fascinating, and wonderful places to explore during OHNY Weekend. We’ve heard plenty of people say “all of the best sites require reservations,” but we can say that this is emphatically not true. All of our most visited sites, from the Brooklyn Army Terminal to New York City Hall, require no reservations at all!

Open House New York invites you to kick off the 15th Anniversary Open House New York Weekend Launch Party and celebrate the start of New York’s favorite weekend of architecture and design. A 15th anniversary celebration needs an especially festive location, which is why Open House New York is taking over Jane’s Carousel in Brooklyn Bridge Park for the night on Thursday, October 12, from 7:00 to 10:00 pm, for an evening of drinks, light fare and unlimited free carousel rides.

Jane’s Carousel was built in the heyday of the American carousels in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company for Idora Park, a theme park in Youngstown, Ohio. The carousel is composed of 48 carved horses arrayed in three rows, with thirty “jumpers,” eighteen “standers,” and two chariots, attributed to John Zalar and Frank Carretta, among the most well known carousel carvers of their day. Following the park’s closure in 1984, the carousel was put up for auction, with the expectation that it would be broken up and sold as individual pieces. But Jane and David Walentas purchased the entire carousel as the centerpiece of a 1980s proposal for a marina and shopping complex in Brooklyn, which later evolved into what is now Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Following a painstaking restoration by Jane Walentas that returned every component to its original glory, the carousel opened in Brooklyn Bridge Park in 2011 in a transparent jewel box designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel. “The waterfront site was very spectacular,” Jane Walentas was quoted saying in an article about the opening of the carousel pavilion in The New York Times. “I felt we needed something very exciting and elegant,” and “we just couldn’t do a typical nostalgic carousel building of the amusement park genre.” The Paris-based Nouvel–who also designed 40 Mercer in Soho, 100 Eleventh Avenue in Chelsea, and 53 West 53rd Street (otherwise known as the MoMA tower, now under construction in Midtown)–designed a 72’ x 72’ x 27’ box that sits on a 6’ high concrete cellar to raise the carousel above the floodline. Sheathed in 4 1/2 inch thick acrylic panels, the North and South walls slide open to frame dramatic views of the East River and Lower Manhattan, and allow for unimpeded access to the promenade and the park. At night, the pavilion glows like a lantern to light this section of the park.

Jane’s Carousel is emblematic of the transformation of the Brooklyn waterfront in the fifteen years since the first OHNY Weekend took place, an area once lined with decaying piers that has been reinvented as a vibrant public space for the 21st century.

Join us at the 15th anniversary OHNY Weekend Launch Party to help keep the majority of Weekend programming entirely free of charge for more than 80,000 visitors and 1,200 volunteers! To learn more about the Launch Party and purchase tickets today, click here

 

Photos of Jane’s Carousel by Julienne Schaer.