I AM OHNY

Over the past year, Open House New York opened the doors to more than 300 sites across the five boroughs for more than 88,000 visitors. As a small nonprofit organization, our work would not be possible without the generous participation and support of our members, donors, volunteers, partners, and friends! For this year’s edition of our annual I am Open House New York campaign, we talked to members of our community, from board members to volunteers, to ask why they are Open House New Yorkers and support our work all year long. 

 

 

mclaughlinERIC MCLAUGHLIN
Business Development, SilverLining Interiors
OHNY Program Partner and Benefit Committee Member

Open House New Yorker since… 2009. I first heard about OHNY when I saw a posting for a tour of the world’s oldest subway tunnel, which runs beneath Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and was rediscovered in 1980 after many decades of abandonment. That space itself was really spectacular, a relic that few knew about. To get to it, we climbed into a manhole in the middle of Atlantic Avenue and got lots of strange looks from passersby. The tour guide was very passionate about the tunnel and was the person that rediscovered it. The story of how he did so was fascinating. I bought a t-shirt and have supported OHNY ever since!

Most memorable Open House New York experience? It’s a small scale site but I really enjoyed touring the Little Red Lighthouse beneath the George Washington Bridge as part of the 2016 OHNY Weekend. It’s in my neighborhood and I’ve admired it for years. It was fun to finally take a peek inside.

I’m an Open House New Yorker because… I’m always looking for new things to explore, to refresh my perspective and deepen my understanding of my home city.

 

 

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ADITYA GHOSH
Job Captain, FXFOWLE
OHNY Scavenger Hunt Enthusiast

Open House New Yorker since… the New York Art Deco Scavenger Hunt in 2014. I was aware of Open House New York before then, but it was my love for Art Deco buildings got me involved as a participant. It was an opportunity to see exceptional design that we usually do not have means to experience. I continue to participate as much to see a building as I do to learn more about other landmarks lying in plain sight.

Most memorable Open House New York experience? Seeing the Belasco Theatre on Broadway during the Landmark Dash in 2015.  I had been to the theatre on more than one occasion before it, but like many others, I had only ever gone into the dimly lit space, seen the usual dazzle of the show, and walked out. Which is why the interiors – the geometry, the layers of lines created by the wooden lattice, and the murals – took me by surprise. I owed it to the task at hand as part of the event, which was to count the Tiffany lamps on the ceiling. Now I make sure to thoroughly ogle around every stage before a show!

I’m an Open House New Yorker because… I see the city to be a museum with shutters over every art piece, and to see them sans locks is something everyone should have access to.

 

 

DARIA SIEGEL
Director, LHMQ; Vice President, Economic Development Programs, Downtown Alliance
OHNY Program Partner

Open House New Yorker since… 2006. I was in grad school and I remember hearing that for this one weekend, private spaces would be open…for free! It’s hard to believe there was a time before OHNY when we didn’t have an organization galvanizing New Yorkers to explore the amazing public and private spaces throughout New York City.

Most memorable Open House New York experience? This past OHNY Weekend I managed to snag tickets for the catwalks of Grand Central. Having access to view this extraordinary landmark five stories up is truly unforgettable. While it’s one of New York’s most visited sites, I consider myself lucky to have viewed it from this special perspective, behind the scenes.

I’m an Open House New Yorker because… I believe all New Yorkers should have access to the buildings and spaces that tell the story of our city and are defining its future.

 

 

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ELSIE ST. LÉGER
Interior Designer / Materials Consultant
OHNY Member and Volunteer

Open House New Yorker since… 2011. I don’t know when I first heard about Open House New York, but by the time I felt empowered to volunteer, I was a full-fledged design geek eager to share her love with other New Yorkers. For my first OHNY Weekend in 2011, I was assigned to a private residence on Prince Street. I was paired with a veteran, who taught me to deal with the minor stresses with a smile. I had a blast and knew I would be volunteering again and again. I made sure to work my schedule around the Weekend no matter what else was going on in my life or career.

Most memorable Open House New York experience? It’s always the last one! This year, I was asked to be a volunteer captain at the Municipal Building. I was nervous and a little anxious about letting folks down. But again I had a blast. Bridget, my District Coordinator, was incredibly helpful. And the site, though busy, was a familiar one so even with the hiccups it ended up being another great experience. And the building’s cupola! Just… wow.

My favorite visit by far was to the TWA Flight Center in 2015. That building is beautiful. To be able to see the architecture and interior design as an educated design consumer was humbling and inspiring. It was a reminder that gestures both large and small can change perceptions and the world. Eero Saarinen knew that. He didn’t waste his opportunities. I’m so pleased that much of it will be restored and preserved.

I’m an Open House New Yorker because… I’m a proud native New Yorker and I love my city! Any chance to volunteer to show off my home’s very best is time well spent.

 

 

spielmannCHAD SPIELMANN
Senior Account Executive at Harrison and Star
OHNY Weekend District Coordinator and Member

Open House New Yorker since… 2014. I first heard about Open House New York six years ago when I was volunteering for a similar organization in Wisconsin called Doors Open Milwaukee. When I moved here, I knew I had to get involved and learn as much as I could about New York City.

Most memorable Open House New York experience? Taking a boat tour of Gowanus Canal. How many people get the chance to take a boat ride on a SuperFund site? As a neighbor of the Gowanus Canal, it was amazing to learn about one of New York City’s most polluted waterways, the much needed cleanup project, and what will happen once the canal has been restored.

I’m an Open House New Yorker because… I love my city and want other people to experience and appreciate the amazing design and architecture it has to offer.

 

 

 

stonelyKAREN STONELY
Principal, SPAN Architecture
OHNY Board Member

Open House New Yorker since… 2013. OHNY is a well known institution in the city. I decided to become passionately involved as a board member – in addition to continuously marveling at the incredible spaces that become physically and educationally accessible as a participant – after repeatedly engaging with diverse, inspired New Yorkers and individuals from countries afar, who believe we all have a consequential impact on our shared built environments.

Most memorable Open House New York experience? A momentous tour of the United Nations Council Chambers in 2013 that included a range of docents from designers and architects to members of the UN, who discussed how decisions about renovation – introducing fresh invention and restoring key historical elements – would be received and perceived by the important political members convening within the chambers.  It was a masterful renovation and the tour was genuinely inspiring.

I’m an Open House New Yorker because… every New Yorker is an Open House New Yorker, they just might not know it yet!

 

 

In 2017, Open House New York will celebrate the 15th anniversary of OHNY Weekend and our mission to connect New Yorkers with their city and each other has never been more important than it is now. It seems like such a simple thing to do, opening a door, but the experience that it makes possible helps nurture and protect the values that have made New York the extraordinary city that it is.  Make a year-end gift to Open House New York today and sustain this important work.

I am OHNY is an annual campaign that celebrates OHNY’s community of supporters. Robert Balder is Executive Director of Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning (AAP) New York City program, and has been an OHNY supporter from it’s start.

“I first learned about OHNY shortly after it was founded in 2001. The goal of promoting awareness and improving access to New York City’s architectural and cultural heritage has long been one of my passions,” says Bob. “In fact, many of my academic pursuits at Cornell University’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning (AAP) parallel OHNY’s interests and programming. As OHNY has grown and expanded over the years, I’ve shared it with my colleagues and all of my students that study in New York City.”

This year, Bob brought together more than eighty Cornell students to participate in the 2015 OHNY Weekend. Over the course of two days, they crisscrossed the five boroughs, visiting many of the sites we had the opportunity to open up this year, to deepen their understanding of the city. Thank you Bob for sharing our programming with so many of your students and introducing them to the city’s many architectural and cultural treasures through us!

What do you love most about New York City?
It’s a tough question as there are so many aspects of New York City that I truly love, but I’d have to say it’s the city’s architecture (my favorite building is the Chrysler Building).

What is your most memorable Open House New York experience?
It was a special East River Boat Tour of the New York Harbor, in the summer of 2012. I was asked to speak about Cornell’s recent plans for its new Tech Campus under development at Roosevelt Island. Upon boarding the vessel I was impressed by the size of the group assembled and the intense interest in the topics we discussed that day. It truly demonstrated for me the importance of OHNY’s mission and the need to expand its offerings on a more frequent and consistent basis.

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go and why?
It would have to be the American Museum of Natural History, which contains over 32 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, as well as cultural artifacts, all contained in 27 interconnected buildings totaling 2 million square feet of space. I would need many lifetimes to begin to understand even a small portion of it.

OHNY is important to New York City because…
OHNY provides our students (really all New Yorkers) with compelling and unique experiences that connect them to New York City in ways that classroom learning can’t. It stimulates their study of the city and inspires them to think deeply about our past, present, and future. I wish OHNY could be part of every course!

Help OHNY continue to expand its programming and stimulate all New Yorkers’ studies of the city, inspiring us to think deeply about our past, present and future.
Join OHNY as a Member
Gift an OHNY Membership
Support OHNY with a donation

From the Annual OHNY Weekend to its year-round public programs, OHNY offers you opportunities to see the city like you’ve never seen it. With your support, OHNY can continue to open the city to tens of thousands of people throughout the five boroughs, tying us closer to the places, people and stories that make New York the most extraordinary city in the world. Together, we are OHNY.

I am OHNY is an annual campaign that celebrates OHNY’s community of supporters. Saundra Thomas is Vice President of Community Affairs at WABC-TV, a longtime media sponsor of OHNY Weekend. She first heard about Open House New York in its early years, when OHNY founder Scott Lauer reached out to WABC-TV for promotional support for OHNY Weekend, and has been involved ever since!

Dedicated to community service, Saundra was a candidate for New York City Council in 2013 and is an active board member of a number of nonprofit organizations in the city. This November, she also joined OHNY’s governing board. We’re excited to welcome her aboard!

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What do you love most about New York City?
The diversity of the people, food and culture, the freedom it gives you to find your place, and that it is surrounded by water!

What is your most memorable Open House New York experience?
This year, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit the Coffey Street residence. The best thing about it was the friendliness of architect and owner Thomas Warnke; the pride he took in showing us his home; the attention to detail he clearly took in designing it; and most of all, how much the space made us feel as if we wanted to live in it!

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go and why?
I would love to be backstage from start to finish for a big concert. I’ve been fortunate to see lots of concerts at various performing arts spaces, but as a non-musician, I’d love to go backstage at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden or Barclays Center, not only to experience the physical space, but also to experience the energy of those places before a big show. I’d love to be in the wings at Alvin Ailey in City Center. After the show, I’d love to see how everything is broken down and brought back to its “bare” form. I’m fascinated by how these spaces seem “come to life!”

OHNY is important to New York City because…
It creates access to places and spaces that make New York great and connects people in the process.

Help OHNY continue connect New Yorkers to each other and to the places and spaces that it make it a great city.
Join OHNY as a Member
Gift an OHNY Membership
Support OHNY with a donation

From the Annual OHNY Weekend to its year-round public programs, OHNY offers you opportunities to see the city like you’ve never seen it. With your support, OHNY can continue to open the city to tens of thousands of people throughout the five boroughs, tying us closer to the places, people and stories that make New York the most extraordinary city in the world. Together, we are OHNY.

I am OHNY is an annual campaign that celebrates OHNY’s community of supporters. Phillip Sulke is founder of Shopikon and an OHNY member. He has contributed and participated in a number of our programs, from talks and boat tours, OHNY Weekend, and special events!

“OHNY appeared on my radar for its yearly OHNY Weekend. Once I visited a few sites I was sold. I knew that I wanted to participate more and not have to wait a full year,” says Phillip. “Being passionate about urban development and architecture made it very easy to join OHNY.”

Thank you Phillip for supporting our work as an OHNY member!

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What do you love most about New York City?
I love the fact that you can never keep up with everything, whether it is music, art, or food. There is always something to learn, try, and experience. No other city makes it so easy to recharge your creative batteries.

What is your most memorable Open House New York experience?
Taking a taxi boat down the Gowanus Canal. It was such an unusual and neglected corner of the city. I could have never seen without OHNY in such a way.

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go and why?
I would visit all skyscrapers that were built between 1910 and 1935, especially their penthouses. Designers and architects from that period had so much more leeway to be inventive and playful with their ideas.

OHNY is important to New York City because…
It opens locked doors and tells untold stories.

Help OHNY continue to share New York’s untold stories.
Join OHNY as a Member
Gift an OHNY Membership
Support OHNY with a donation

From the Annual OHNY Weekend to its year-round public programs, OHNY offers you opportunities to see the city like you’ve never seen it. With your support, OHNY can continue to open the city to tens of thousands of people throughout the five boroughs, tying us closer to the places, people and stories that make New York the most extraordinary city in the world. Together, we are OHNY.

I am OHNY is an annual campaign that celebrates OHNY’s community of supporters. Shaelyn Amaio is Consultant at Lord Cultural Resources and the creator of #WorldsFairWednesday, one of our favorite Instagram hashtags. Every week, she celebrates World’s Fair history with an image she’s taken or found, along with a little bit of World’s Fair history.

Shaelyn is also a public experience advocate and has been an OHNY Weekend superfan since 2011. “Once I realized that OHNY was dedicated to increasing access to New York’s treasures, I was hooked,” says Shaelyn. “I love to explore New York City, especially when I can bring friends and family along for the adventure. OHNY opens the city to me in so many ways, and when it’s an OHNY event I know it’ll be great.”

Thank you Shaelyn for exploring New York City through OHNY and sharing your love for our work with so many!

What do you love most about New York City?
My favorite thing about New York City is how many layers of history there are here and how many human stories have played out in every building and on every street corner throughout the city. Because New York has been reinventing itself since the city was founded, so much of this history is obscured–either hiding in plain sight or because the physical evidence of it has been destroyed. I’m continuously surprised and intrigued by New York City.

What is your most memorable Open House New York experience?
During this year’s Open House New York Weekend, I spent an afternoon in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and got to go inside the New York State Pavilion! Since I first moved to Queens, I’ve loved visiting the park–the site of the 1939-40 and 1964-65 New York World’s Fairs–to visit the cultural attractions there, go to Mets games, learn the history of the fairs, and just enjoy the green space. I’ve spent so much time peering through the locked gate to the Pavilion, trying to get a feel for the space, that it was really surreal to walk in and look up at the observation towers from inside the pavilion. I can’t wait to see what develops for the New York State Pavilion in the coming years. I’m so thrilled that Open House New York teamed up with the Park and the folks working to preserve the Pavilion to offer public access.

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go and why?
I would love to explore some of the sites all over the city where scientists worked, materials were stored, and experiments were conducted as part of the Manhattan Project in New York City. Most of those sites are unmarked and unremarkable today, which makes their history even more interesting to me.

OHNY is important to New York City because…
It empowers people to explore their city, to get to know it in new ways, and to care about it more deeply than before.

Help OHNY continue to empower New Yorkers to understand their city more deeply.
Join OHNY as a Member
Gift an OHNY Membership
Support OHNY with a donation

From the Annual OHNY Weekend to its year-round public programs, OHNY offers you opportunities to see the city like you’ve never seen it. With your support, OHNY can continue to open the city to tens of thousands of people throughout the five boroughs, tying us closer to the places, people and stories that make New York the most extraordinary city in the world. Together, we are OHNY.