I am OHNY is a campaign we began in 2011 to highlight and celebrate Open House New York’s diverse community of supporters. Bahij Chancey is an NYC Civic Corps Member at the Department of Parks and Recreation. A regular OHNY volunteer, Bahij volunteered as an OHNY Weekend District Coordinator for the first time this year in Red Hook. During OHNY Weekend, Bahij was responsible for managing all of our Red Hook volunteers and making sure that everything was running smoothly at a wide variety of sites in the neighborhood including Bike New York’s Coastal Resiliency Bike Tour; the GBX Gowanus Bay Terminal; and the Coffey Street Residence.

“I’m totally obsessed with New York’s built environment: the streets and structures that we inhabit each day, and the hidden infrastructure that keeps the city ticking,” says Bahij. “I was lured by OHNY’s commitment to showcase the city’s greatest architectural treasures, and reveal its hidden gems. The decision to volunteer was easy for me. I wanted to support your program, and I have time but not so much money. Volunteering has allowed me to take advantage of so many great OHNY offerings.”

Thanks Bahij, for supporting us as a volunteer, which is just as meaningful to us as any other form of support!

What do you love most about New York City?
I love learning how it functions. It’s a wonder to me that New York City exists at all. I’m constantly amazed at the diversity of people from every culture who coexist in frenetic harmony. Every day, we each do our own part, but rarely do we take a second and really think about the gargantuan task we accomplish just keeping this city running. When I walk through this city’s streets I see a web of intersecting infrastructural networks all performing vital functions. Some are obvious and constantly present in our lives, like our streets and our subways. Some are more discrete, tucked away on the roofs of buildings or below our feet. I question how our food got here, and where our trash goes when it’s picked up from the curb. What pipes, wires, train lines, sewers, and building cellars did that tree’s roots have to circumvent in order to thrive? Finding the answers is satisfying, but the more I learn, the more there is to know.

What is your most memorable Open House New York experience?
The OHNY experience that had the greatest impact on me wasn’t actually a visit to a structure. It was Robin Nagle’s lecture* about picking up trash in NYC. My mind was whirring after her fantastic talk. The Department of Sanitation usually exists in people’s peripheral, but that night she celebrated the monumental task entrusted to New York’s Strongest. Each step along our trash’s journey from the curb to the state border holds its own marvels.

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go and why?
Assuming that all-access includes time travel, I would love to see the Brooklyn Bridge when it first opened. It’s hard to imagine New York at a time when the bridge’s majestic stone gateways towered over every building in the city. When all that had ever crossed the East River were vessels, the sight of the suspension bridge effortlessly draped over the water must have been unbelievable. It’s aged beautifully as the city grows around it.

OHNY is important to New York City because…
It opens doors. You can pass by the same door twice a day and never wonder what it hides, but once you get a peek there’s so much more to see.

Help Open House New York continue to open doors and give you a peek into what it’s hidden inside.
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.

*OHNY volunteers are invited to special enrichment lectures over the course of the year, which are organized to recognize and celebrate the volunteers who help make the Annual OHNY Weekend–and OHNY’s year-round programs–possible. Want to attend? Become a volunteer!

I am OHNY is a campaign we began in 2011 to highlight and celebrate Open House New York’s diverse community of supporters. Karen Zabarsky is the Creative Director at Kushner Companies, and an Open House New York superfan. Karen’s been involved in OHNY as an OHNY Weekend site host, and as a participant, having attended not only OHNY Weekend, but also our year-round programs and special events.

Karen first came across OHNY when she was working in business development for STUDIO V. “I was looking for innovative ways to get our projects out there, especially those that were under construction–sometimes the coolest phase of a project!” says Karen. “We ended up giving tours for our project called Empire Stores—seven contiguous warehouses on the Brooklyn waterfront—and it was so inspiring to see visitors’ excitement and fascination with this transforming building. I’ve been an OHNY junkie ever since.”

Thank you Karen, for helping us open new doors for the public and getting involved in OHNY in so many ways!

What do you love most about New York City?
Although its rich history and walkable streets sparked my lust for New York City, it’s the layers of development and ever-changing landscape/hardscape that keep me in love. Old infrastructure inspires new uses, landmarked architecture paves the way for innovative design, and somehow these layers continue to unfold and meld together.

What is your most memorable Open House New York experience?
My friend Blake and I had the unparalleled opportunity to visit 4 World Trade while it was still under construction. Being immersed in the unadulterated bones of one of the most iconic projects in the city was not just jaw-dropping; it opened my eyes to the possibility of exploration and the unique connections with the city that OHNY fosters.

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go and why?
The site of the future Bushwick Inlet Park in Williamsburg! This property holds historic infrastructure from the days of Charles Pratt’s oil empire, including ten incredible 50-foot tall oil fuel containers that look like Richard Serra pieces. You can also access the bucolic Bushwick Inlet from there and see 180-degree views of Manhattan. Let’s lift that chain-link fence, OHNY!

OHNY is important to New York City because…
It’s truly in line with the sharing economy of our generation. So much of this city’s beauty and magic has been made exclusive. OHNY combats this trend and brings the majestic views, the elite designers, the under construction park projects, and everything in between back to the public.

Help Open House New York continue to share this city’s beauty and open up it’s best projects to the public.
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.

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The Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema features a spacious two-story atrium that doubles as a community space and screening area. (Photo: Barbara Eldredge c/o Brownstoner)

Open House New York’s Monograph in Motion series was created earlier this year to celebrate the work of New York design firms that have made significant contributions to shaping the city’s built environment, and to consider how the work and ideas of those firms evolves over time and in different projects. This past fall, the second installment of Monograph in Motion explored the work of Dattner Architects. With more than a hundred design awards, Dattner Architects has shown a deep commitment to democratizing great design since its earliest days and tours of three projects provided an overview of the firm’s extraordinarily broad range: from the city’s first public graduate film school, to a new affordable and supportive housing project, to the first new stop added to the New York City subway in more than a quarter-century. Across all three projects, the team at Dattner demonstrated that it looks at constraints and complexities not as a hindrance to great design, but as the source for inspired solutions.

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The tour included a stop in the new set shop, where students will be able to build full-scale movie sets on-site.
(Photo: Barbara Eldredge c/o Brownstoner)

At Brooklyn College’s new Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema, for instance, the team had to fit “everything you need to make a movie, from concept to credits,” into one and a half floors of the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s historic Building One (aka Building 291), according to Dattner Architects principal Daniel Heuberger. As Heuberger explained, that included soundstages, set shops, classrooms, a motion-capture studio, screening rooms, and a host of other facilities, many of which required special flooring, insulation, and building systems to prevent sound vibrations from traveling between rooms—or even entering the building from the surrounding city.

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“Ours is an office of generalists,” Heuberger told the group during a post-tour presentation in one of the school’s sleek new screening rooms. (Photo: Barbara Eldredge c/o Brownstoner)

Once this was all accounted for, the team found themselves with considerably less space than they had originally anticipated, forcing them to get creative. The resulting space, however, feels anything but cramped. Entering the school from the elevator bank, one steps into a soaring, two-story atrium organized around an inviting staircase that enables the dramatic, airy lobby to double as a screening area. The entire facility is rendered in white, black, and cool grays, with supergraphics of blown-up film noir stills. “We took inspiration from old black and white films, for the color palette,” explained Dattner associate Maya Maxwell. “The color comes from people using the space.

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A model of the building illustrates the unique profile created by the wedge-shaped lot along the subway tracks.
(Photo: Open House New York)

At CAMBA Housing Ventures’ 97 Crooke Avenue development in Flatbush, the architects were presented with a very different, if equally challenging site. The wedge-shaped lot, formed by an uncovered subway trench for the B and Q trains that cuts diagonally through the neighborhood, required a more complex layout than a standard rectangular lot would have. The constant rumbling of the subway also presented challenges for this residential project, especially given CAMBA’s dedication to providing the highest quality housing for its tenants, a mix of low-income and formerly homeless individuals. As CAMBA’s President and CEO, Joanne Oplustil‬, told the tour group, “If I can’t live in the unit, nobody can live in the unit.”‬

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Countertops manufactured by Icestone in the Brooklyn Navy Yard were chosen for 97 Crooke’s communal computer room for the way that they reflect and distribute light, helping to brighten the basement room. (Photo: Open House New York)

Once again, significant constraints led to the building’s signature feature. The building’s elevator core was sited along the subway trench, allowing it to serve as a buffer between the bulk of the residential units and the trains. The resulting diagonal wall, a majority of the building’s street facade along Crooke Avenue, was transformed by Dattner principal Bill Stein and his team into a “tapestry,” drawing on the terra cotta and red, yellow, and cream toned bricks of the other apartment blocks in the surrounding neighborhood.

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Dattner’s Catherine Selby discusses how the building’s residential units were designed to maximize limited space.
(Photo: Vanni Archive Architectural Photography)

Of course, constraints aren’t always physical. “Our firm does a great deal of of public work, and [having a lot of stakeholders] is expected. Not just for infrastructure projects, but for housing now, too, since funding comes from so many different agencies,” explained Dattner principal Beth Greenberg. “Things that may look very simple have input from right, left, up down…everywhere! Any architecture in the public realm is very likely to have a lot of layers.”

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A brightly colored mosaic mural by artist Xenobia Bailey, commissioned by MTA Arts and Design, soars over the entrance to the 34th Street-Hudson Yards station. (Photo: Ben Helmer for Open House New York)

Greenberg was speaking not of 97 Crooke, but of the 34th Street-Hudson Yards subway station, the brand new terminus for the 7 train on Manhattan’s West Side. The physical limitations of working on a subterranean site are obvious; what was most impressive here was the way in which the architects had taken scores of rules and regulations from multiple agencies and crafted a space that felt light and airy, given the fact that it is located so deep beneath the city streets. Finishes and fixtures were chosen to amplify light, allowing the project to meet requirements for minimum brightness while also meeting energy efficiency standards. Striking architectural forms and public artworks made possible by the city’s Percent for Art program were deliberately placed to enable “intuitive wayfinding,” using design to minimize the need for signage by helping people to easily navigate the series of underground spaces.

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In the station, architectural elements are used to enable intuitive wayfinding, with minimal signage.
(Photo: Ben Helmer for Open House New York)

Greenberg and her colleagues were also working against the psychological limitations presented by the fact that most New Yorkers take the experience of using mass transit completely for granted. Normally, making your way to the train is hardly an experience worth paying attention to; this belies the subway’s status as one of the city’s most impressive technological innovations. At 34th Street, the Dattner team created a sequence of spaces, each of which—from the first escalator tube, to the fare collection area, to the subway platform itself—is visually distinct from the last, while still feeling like part of an integrated whole. Together, the progression through these spaces subtly highlights the complexity of the system, encouraging thoughtful commuters reason to consider and appreciate the modern marvel that is the New York City subway system.

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It may be more than a hundred feet below street level, but the station is brilliantly lit throughout.
(Photo: Ben Helmer for Open House New York)

It is estimated that each year over 150 million people pass through transportation projects by Dattner, and tens of thousands have lived in the more than 13,500 units of new and renovated housing that the firm has designed. Dattner Architects’ commitment to improving the civic realm through great design has been fundamental to the firm’s practice since founding principal Richard Dattner started in 1964, and New York is a transformed city as a result.

I am OHNY is a campaign we began in 2011 to highlight and celebrate Open House New York’s diverse community of supporters. Jessica Dailey is the Managing Editor of Curbed and has been a longtime supporter of OHNY. She first learned about OHNY when she was an editor at Inhabitat NYC in 2011, and has been covering OHNY ever since.

This year, Jessica participated in OHNY Weekend not only as a journalist, but also as a program partner! Of the 100+ new sites that opened their doors during OHNY Weekend, five private residences were handpicked by Curbed editors, a new collaboration spearheaded by Jessica.

“OHNY opens doors to so many restricted places, and that’s incredibly exciting for a journalist because the sites undoubtedly lead to new stories,” says Jessica. Thank you Jessica for sharing so many of OHNY’s stories, and helping us open up several lovely residences this year!

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What do you love most about New York City?
I really love New York’s parks. I grew up in a somewhat rural area, so proximity to green leafy things is a necessity. My two favorites–Brooklyn Bridge Park and Prospect Park–provide totally different experiences. Brooklyn Bridge Park is a stunning feat of modern engineering that weaves together pockets of green space to highlight the city around it, while Prospect Park’s forests, lakes, and waterfalls feel like they’ve existed for hundreds of years, far away from the city.

What is your most memorable Open House New York experience?
I always jump at the opportunity to go on behind-the-scenes construction tours of new parks, but by far the most memorable was a trip to the new section of Governors Island in 2013. The tour had to be rescheduled because of thunderstorms, and when the new date finally came, there was still a chance of thunderstorms. It seemed like we were in the clear, though, so the tour went on. But almost immediately after we walked through the Liggett Terrace arch, we heard thunder and saw dark clouds coming our way. It’s quite an experience being on a construction site in the middle of the harbor with a thunderstorm barreling at you! We all got a little soaked in the rain, and had a good laugh about Mother Nature not wanting us to take this tour.

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go and why?
I’ve always wanted to go inside the Grand Army Plaza arch at the entrance to Prospect Park. I know that this used to be possible, but it hasn’t been an option since I’ve lived in New York. I’ve read that there’s a theater inside, and I’m so curious to find out what it looks like.

OHNY is important to New York City because…
It grants access to so many places that are off-limits to the public. When you can go behind the scenes of new developments and parks, or peek inside private offices and homes, it’s like being let in on a secret and makes you feel more connected to your city.

Help Open House New York connect you to the city and share its best secrets.
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 2011 to highlight and celebrate Open House New York’s diverse community of supporters. Mark Luckie is an author, journalist, and social media strategist, and was the winner of the Time Out New York’s 2015 OHNY Weekend Scavenger Hunt. Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18, Mark visited twelve of our most exciting Open Access sites for the Hunt, crisscrossing the five boroughs from the Gould Memorial Library at Bronx Community College to Battery Weed in Staten Island.

“I first heard of Open House New York via a tweet sent by Time Out New York, one of my favorite publications,” says Mark. “I’ve always had a sense of adventure, and the opportunity to see behind the walls of the New York locations I pass by every day was exciting!” Thank you Mark for taking advantage of OHNY Weekend in such a fun way and sharing your adventure!

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What do you love most about New York City?
The neighborhoods change block by block and so does the opportunity to experience something new. I can go to a world-class museum, find solitude in Central Park, have mofongo uptown, or go to one of the country’s hottest nightclubs, all in one day if I wanted to.

What is your most memorable Open House New York experience?
Climbing the tower to the top of the Jefferson Market Library for the breathtaking views was an incomparable experience. Making the journey to Battery Weed in Staten Island was a treat as well.

If OHNY could grant you an all-access pass to any place in the city, where would you go and why?
Definitely Rockefeller Center. From the luxe shopping on the ground floor to the Top of the Rock, and all the amazing television studios in between, I’d probably be overwhelmed with happiness.

OHNY is important to New York City because…
We all love New York City. Experiencing its rich history makes us love it even more.

To love New York City is to love Open House New York! Help us continue to share our city’s rich history.
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.