I AM OHNY

I AM OHNY is a campaign we began in late 2011 to highlight and celebrate Open House New York’s diverse community of supporters. Rebecca Karp has been an OHNY fan and supporter since moving to the city from the Hudson Valley in 2006. “I took my parents on a ‘behind the scenes tour’ of Brooklyn via OHNY Weekend,” Rebecca recalls. “I was hooked—what more incredible way to connect New Yorkers to their environment than by sharing unique places that we all may pass by daily? Architecture, design, and planning do not have to be high-brow disciplines, and in this one day, allowed me and my family to connect with my new home in an inspired way.”

Thank you, Rebecca, for your support of Open House New York!

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What do you love most about New York City?
Secret discoveries of all kinds that I might miss if I move too fast: the church garden that is actually a public space and becomes an oasis. The mews tucked away in the West Village that peek out. The fraternity among dog owners at 5AM in the park. The gargoyles that seem to appear on entire blocks of buildings in some neighborhoods. The incredible variety of food.

I also love the fact that we are city built on and around the water, and I deeply love our bridges—in particular the Verrazano-Narrows and Manhattan bridges.

What is your favorite building and/or neighborhood in the city?
I am drawn to interstitial spaces: parks, plazas, wherever people seem to gather or plants seem to grow despite the fates. I love Park Slope, Brooklyn for its grand brownstone blocks, community parks and playgrounds, people clustered on stoops all over the neighborhood no matter the season, and local businesses of wide variety.

What was your most memorable OHNY experience?
Hands down, the Grand Lodge of the Free and Accepted Masons in Manhattan takes the cake. Being let in to not only a unique space, but to what felt like a secret society, was an otherworldly experience. How many of us walk down 23rd Street and pass by that building every day without knowing about the dozens of uniquely ornate rooms and secret rituals that are hidden inside?

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go, and why?
Access to the Red Hook Grain Terminal would be fascinating, particularly as the city and state considers the future of the Brooklyn waterfront. The Red Hook Grain Terminal is an incredible structure that attempted to boost the harbor but was never successful, yet remains a significant part of the physical landscape. I worked on the Columbia Waterfront in Brooklyn in 2012 at the Brooklyn Marine Terminal, and watched the daily push-pull between supporting a working waterfront and providing public access to the waterfront. As the city learns how industry and residential/community uses can (or cannot, in some instances) coexist, the future of buildings like the Red Hook Grain Terminal will be hotly debated. A peek inside the building would give interesting perspective.

OHNY is important to New York City because…
It connects New Yorkers with the places in which they live in new ways, and reminds New York about the importance of incredible spaces.

 

Help us continue to connect people and the spaces that make our 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 a campaign we began in late 2011 to highlight and celebrate Open House New York’s diverse community of supporters. Robin Nagle is a cultural anthropologist, professor, and author of Picking Up: On the Streets and Behind the Trucks with the Sanitation Workers of New York City. In her unique role as the anthropologist-in-residence at the NYC Department of Sanitation, Robin reached out to us earlier this year to get the ball rolling on a collaboration between OHNY and the DSNY, leading to several amazing new sites being added to the roster this past OHNY Weekend

“While I didn’t get involved officially until this year, I first experienced OHNY seven years ago,” Robin recalls. “When my son was in third grade, he and I went up the Highbridge Water Tower during Open House Weekend. It was a wonderful adventure.” Thank you, Robin, for working with us to arrange more adventures for New Yorkers!

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What do you love most about New York City?
I most love many things about New York City. I love that the city’s energy feels boundless and utterly impersonal, like a force of nature. An ocean current doesn’t care if it helps you swim faster or if it drowns you. New York City is the same. It is the urban ouroboros, forever eating and birthing itself, fueled by the kinetic energy of its history and its people. New York generates its own perpetual motion, and if you’re lucky, some of that force osmoses into you. It is always changing and always exactly only itself. No matter where you’re from, if you decide to live here, you’re a New Yorker. If you live here for decades, you can look back and feel as if you lived in dozens of different cities – but it’s all New York.

What is your favorite building and/or neighborhood in the city?
My favorite neighborhood is any that’s still authentic – that is, any neighborhood that still has mom-and-pop businesses in its storefronts, that has at least one good diner, and that hasn’t been corporatized or overrun with chain stores. Authentic neighborhoods are in every borough, but they’re getting scarce.

My favorite building is the New York Public Library’s flagship cathedral (the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building) on Fifth and Forty-Second.

What was your most memorable OHNY experience?
That trip to the Highbridge Water Tower was pretty memorable; the neighborhood was new to us, and we met a rooster hanging out on the street on our way from the subway. The cast-iron spiral staircase at the Tower was a work of art, and the view from the top was spectacular. We watched a few people make their way up and then collapse to their knees in a trembling sweat; they were climbing the tower specifically to face their fear of heights, and we were impressed by their bravery. I was okay on the Tower’s main platform, but that was my limit. My son, however, went up and down the smaller interior spiral stair to the very top of the tower several times, and was delighted to discover that he had courage for something I didn’t have the guts to do.

More recently, seeing the public response to the Department of Sanitation’s participation in the Open House Weekend has been great. Kathryn Garcia, the new commissioner of Sanitation, made it a priority to connect the DSNY to OHNY, and so we worked closely with the organization to put three Sanitation venues on the schedule for this year’s OHNY Weekend. It took a lot of patience and time, but because the Open House staff made the entire experience positive for everyone involved, Sanitation is looking forward to many future collaborations.

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go, and why?
Water Tunnel Number Three.

OHNY is important to New York City because…
It invites people to see the many amazing insides of the city, which helps the public better understand and appreciate New York’s beautiful complexity.

 

Help us continue to connect people and the spaces that make our 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 a campaign we began in late 2011 to highlight and celebrate Open House New York’s diverse community of supporters. Vivi Feng is a graphic designer with PS New York. Fans of OHNY will undoubtedly be very familiar with Vivi’s work, as she was one of the designers who created this year’s OHNY Weekend Event Guide! You can even spot Vivi on the guide’s cover—she is the little red blur passing by the Welling Court mural that OHNY commissioned for this year’s cover!

“I only recently discovered OHNY, when I started working for Penny [Hardy, principal of PS New York],” says Vivi, who moved to the city a few years ago from Beijing to attend design school. “But I wish I could have found it a lot earlier!” Thank you, Vivi, for all that you did to make this year’s OHNY Weekend Event Guide as beautiful as it was helpful!

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What do you love most about New York City?
I love New York City for its diversity. It can always surprise me, both in good and bad ways; doors open and reveal things I never would have expected.

What is your favorite building and/or neighborhood in the city?
I love the Greenwich Village / West Village area. I like wandering around through the lanes covered with cobblestones.

What was your most memorable OHNY experience?
I would say it was the boat trip down East River this past summer. That was really fun, and I learned a lot from it. Also, modeling for the OHNY guide cover was a pretty memorable experience!

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go, and why?
I’d love to get access to some of the hidden private rooftops around the city! I’m always wondering what the view looks like from different rooftops…

OHNY is important to New York City because…
It enables us to know more about the city we love!

Help us continue to connect people and the spaces that make our 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 a campaign we began in late 2011 to highlight and celebrate Open House New York’s diverse community of supporters. Clive Wilkinson is a Los Angeles-based architect. We reached out to Clive this year after reading about the “Superdesk” that he designed for the Manhattan headquarters of The Barbarian Group. As soon as he heard what OHNY Weekend was, he not only agreed to lead a tour of the Superdesk, he also offered up another recent project, GLG’s headquarters on 42nd Street, as a site for the festival.

Thank you, Clive, for working with your clients to open up both of these spaces, and for being such a strong supporter of OHNY Weekend right off the bat!

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Clive Wilkinson, left, leads a tour of the Superdesk during OHNY Weekend. (Photo: Nicolas Lemery Nantel)


What do you love most about New York City?

I love the city’s impossible and very welcoming energy—it’s unique amongst the large metropolises of the world.

What is your favorite building and/or neighborhood in the city?
My favorite neighborhood today is the Lower East Side, because of its extraordinary mixture of ordinariness and the exotic. Any journey around it surfaces the weirdest discoveries, both old and new.

What was your most memorable OHNY experience?
Well, I’ve only had one so far, just this year, so it is certainly the most memorable: guiding tours around our two new projects, GLG’s Midtown headquarters and the Barbarian Group’s Chelsea offices [home of the Superdesk].

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go, and why?
That would have to be Grand Central Station, which seems to be a labyrinthian city unto itself.

OHNY is important to New York City because…
How else can we legally break into the working and living spaces of all of these exotic New Yorker people?

 

Help us continue to connect people and the spaces that make our 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 a campaign we began in late 2011 to highlight and celebrate Open House New York’s diverse community of supporters. Marilynn Davis is a partner at K2S Advisors, and previously served as Chief Financial Officer for the New York City Housing Authority and the Assistant Secretary for Administration of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Marilynn was recently elected to serve on OHNY’s Governing Board. We are excited to welcome her aboard!

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What do you love most about New York City?
Of course, anybody would have to say that the energy in New York is special and quite unique. I think that this stems from not only the great diversity in the city—along so many dimensions—but also from the fact that we actually interact with each other constantly within a footprint that’s really quite compact for the size of the population, so everybody has to brush up against each other on some level–through work, food, culture and leisure activities or on the subway. There’s no escape. So, for most of us, it leads to a certain amount of tolerance, stemming from a broadening—however subliminal—of everyone’s perspective and worldview. And, at its best, it enables one to engage in intellectual and public discourse at a very high level about things that concern us as a society. That conversation extends to education and attentiveness around our built environment.

What is your favorite building and/or neighborhood in the city?
Cass Gilbert’s Brooklyn Army Terminal knocked my socks off the first time I saw it. I had the great pleasure of experiencing it at night, at a social event, so there was an al fresco dinner on one of its plazas, followed by a party inside the terminal itself. I’d never seen anything like it, and it was magical.

I grew up in Detroit during what was still its heyday, so I was imbued with the idea of the power of big industry being projected through its factories. However, I’d never seen any that were as elegantly configured as the Brooklyn Army Terminal, with the exception of those that were captured by Diego Rivera in his masterpiece, the “Detroit Industry” frescoes, that he did for the Detroit Institute of Arts. So I could imagine the Terminal during its peak years of use, when it was buzzing with workers amidst the ballet of the activity on the docks, the trains, the delivery of products by the overhead cranes to their respective levels, all in that cavernous space! Pretty amazing, and it expanded my partiality to modernist gems like the Seagram Building.

What was your most memorable OHNY experience?

I went on an OHNY cruise along the Hudson a couple of summers ago, where there were architectural and naval historians on board to tell us about the history of port development on both the NYC and the New Jersey sides and inform us about some architectural gems that are the more anonymous fixtures of the New York City skyline.  And we were able to really appreciate the vast expanse of Riverside Park on the Upper West Side, and learn the history of Robert Moses’ vision for the area. The cruise went as far north as the George Washington Bridge, which I came to regard for the first time as a real beauty, perhaps on par with the Brooklyn Bridge, something that’s very hard to appreciate when you’re stuck in traffic on it!

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go and why?
There are two spots, the first of which would require some fairy wings. The Angel Orensanz Foundation is in the oldest synagogue building in New York and, until recently, it was open to the public for special events, which is how I experienced it. It was at night and the lighting created quite an ethereal atmosphere, but it was clear that the building was very fragile and, since then, it’s been closed. I’d love to be able to float through the space and really explore its altar and balcony, to the rafters and beyond.

The second place would require time travel: I wish I’d been able to experience the Alhambra Ballroom in Harlem during the Jazz Age when artists like Bessie, Billie, and Cab set it on fire with their music! I’ve seen photographs of the space when it was originally built, as a vaudeville venue, and it was a real beauty through many iterations of use. It fell into disrepair, closed and, in this century, was reopened as a facility for multiple uses, including a banquet hall and bowling alley. I’d love to have been able to see the space as it was originally built and explore all its nooks and crannies.

OHNY is important to New York City because…
The built environment that envelops us, irrespective of the use or the budget for any particular part of it, has the ability to inspire or diminish our collective spirit. It’s important that the citizens who inhabit it have an opportunity to appreciate its history and promise. Welcoming forums like OHNY—outside of those that have traditionally been pitched to professionals—are important to this education and to the encouragement of the expanded perspective and awareness that characterize New Yorkers.

Help us continue to connect people and the spaces that make our 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.