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Cities are more than just buildings and people. Open space is a key component to making any city livable. Not only does it offer beauty and areas for recreation and respite, but urban green space also offers valuable economic, health, community building, and ecosystem benefits.

Being a very dense city with an enormous population, the need for open space in New York is paramount. New York has been a leader in city park expansion, including transforming old rail lines into greenways and an old Army headquarters in the middle of the harbor into a popular oasis. Even buildings have become more conscious of providing green spaces, with many including green roofs that help curb greenhouse gas emissions or green plazas for tenants to enjoy.

For this year’s OHNY Weekend, Open House New York and the New York Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA-NY) are partnering to present New Landscapes New York. Tours of seventeen of New York’s most exciting new open spaces and landscapes during the 2016 Open House New York Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, October 15 and 16, will give visitors a chance to meet the designers who push the boundaries of creativity, innovation and leadership in the planning, design, and development of our built environment.

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New Landscapes New York Sites

Concrete Plant Park
Bronx River Alliance

FDR Four Freedoms Park
Lois Sherr Dubin

Gil Hodges Community Garden
Stantec with New York Restoration Project

Hallett Nature Sanctuary
Central Park Conservancy

The High Bridge
NYC Parks and Recreation

High Line
James Corner Field Operations

Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park
Thomas Balsley Associates with WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism

Liberty Park

The Lowline Lab
Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects

Naval Cemetery Landscape
Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects

New York Times Building Lobby Garden

Future Green Studio

Pier 5 Uplands at Brooklyn Bridge Park
Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc. with Brooklyn Bridge Park

Pier 15
Ken Smith Workshop

DLANDstudio architecture + landscape architecture with The Trust For Public Land

Times Square Reconstruction

VIA 57 West
Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners with Bjarke Ingels Group

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Most New Landscapes New York sites require Advance Reservations, while others will be Open Access and may be visited free-of-charge on a drop-in basis. Full tour descriptions and information about how to visit these sites will be available on October 5.

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is the national professional association for landscape architects. Founded in 1899, the association represents over 15,000 members. The New York Chapter encompasses the five boroughs of New York City, Nassau and Suffolk counties on Long Island, and Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange and Rockland counties. The Society’s mission is to lead in the planning, design and care of both our natural and built environments. While keeping pace with the ever-changing forces of nature and technology, landscape architects increasingly have a profound impact on the way people live, work and play.

ASLANY logo copy



Images: VIA 57 West by Iwan Baan, Naval Cemetery Landscape courtesy of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, High Line by Iwan Baan, Concrete Plant Park by Malcom Pinckney, FDR Four Freedoms Park by Iwan Baan, and Times Square by Michael Grimm.

Each year, an amazing group of more than 1,300 people from across New York and around the world volunteer to help make Open House New York Weekend possible. They all share a love of New York City, and make up a vibrant mix of new and returning volunteers.

This week, meet Donna Lennon, a first time Open House New York volunteer, and John Kelly, one of our District Coordinators!



All volunteers play a pivotal role at participating sites around the city. Volunteers are assigned to one site during OHNY Weekend, typically for a four hour shift, and are tasked with welcoming visitors, assisting with check-in, managing lines, and representing Open House New York. 


Name: Donna Lennon
Occupation: Elementary School Teacher
Neighborhood: Harlem

Favorite spot in New York City?
Union Square. It’s such an interesting mix of entertainment, shopping, and political expression. I can go to the movies, get a great pair of shoes, and protest police brutality all in one spot.

Why are you volunteering for OHNY Weekend?
I registered because in both my professional and personal life, I am often asked for directions and information about New York. Maybe it’s the glasses, but for some reason random strangers often politely excuse themselves and ask me for directions, train schedules, and information about New York landmarks This is a common occurrence in my life and I’ve learned to embrace it. There are times when I’m not in a good mood and simply say “sorry, I’m not from here.” I’ve lived in New York–Queens and Harlem–for twenty years now and I have been an unofficial New York tour guide since my first year here. Lately, I’ve asked those same lost strangers why, out of all the people on the platform, or in the street or lobby, they chose to ask me. Their response is mostly “you seemed kind” or “you looked like a nice person.” Even with shades on my face and earbuds in my ears, I don’t know how they inferred that I was nice. But this led me to believe that I am a perfect match as an OHNY volunteer. I am most excited about truly representing the city I love by answering a lot of questions.

If you were a New York City landmark, what would you be?
The George Washington Bridge! Before my Dad passed away, I made frequent road trips to my hometown of Rochester, New York. This trip allowed me to listen to my favorite music (Usher), engage in one-way conversations with my favorite podcasters (Elon James White, Crissle & Kid Fury and Baratunde Thurston), and simply relax. That moment when you’re coming off Interstate 80 onto 95 and then you see the GW Bridge with the city in the background, it is simply breathtaking. It’s like a welcome home hug. It’s like the front door of your home after a long day. It’s just beautiful.

Fun fact?
I collect turtle figurines and wood carvings from all over the world! I have fourteen figurines in my collection from places like Egypt, Spain, Mexico, and Jamaica. This collection all started with the purchase of my pet turtle, Lucy. I’ve had her since 2004. She was a perfect classroom pet that now lives in a 10-gallon tank in my living room.



District Coordinators are a special team of individuals who volunteer their entire weekend to make sure everything runs smoothly across the city. They are assigned specific neighborhoods and help manage all volunteers and sites in the area.


Name: John Kelly
Occupation: Director of digital product development at American Express
Neighborhood: Court Square, Long Island City with fiancée (and OHNY volunteer) Pedro

Favorite spot in New York City?
Without a doubt Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center at JFK. I grew up in the DC area and was always so inspired traveling in and out of Dulles, another one of his master works. I thought I would never get the opportunity to see TWA up close, but I was so thrilled to have the chance to visit when it opened for OHNY Weekend in the past.Best Open House New York memory?
I took off an afternoon from work four years ago to go on a members tour of the NYC Department of Transportation’s command center in Long Island City. One of my niche interests is around the invisible systems and infrastructure upon which urban life is able to thrive – and this was an amazing experience to see all of the science and technology that goes into traffic optimization. It was another OHNY experience of getting the chance to go behind the scenes of something that I was so interested in, but never thought I would have the chance to experience.

Why are you volunteering for OHNY Weekend?
I first became aware of OHNY as a college student at St. John’s University, and had many great weekends as a participant. I observed so many people passionate about different aspects of the city, and knew that I wanted to get more involved. My first year as a volunteer was in 2009 when I was assigned to the Hindu Temple Society of North America in Flushing, and immediately fell even more in love with the organization.

If you were a New York City landmark, what would you be?
This is a stretch, but I’d be the subway system. For as much shade as gets thrown at it, it is remarkable for its scale, reach, resiliency, and for being the backbone of the the country’s largest economy.

Fun fact?
I have five younger siblings!

What is your favorite part about being a District Coordinator for OHNY Weekend?
Riding around on my bike, getting to know all of the volunteers, site sponsors, and gaining an even deeper appreciation for my neighborhood and my city.


There’s still time to join the team of more than 1,000 volunteers who help make Open House New York Weekend one of New York’s most exciting events! Visit our volunteer page to learn more about volunteering and click here to sign up to volunteer for the 2016 OHNY Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, October 15 and 16!


We would like to introduce Ashley Davis, our Volunteer Coordinator for the 2016 Open House New York Weekend. As Volunteer Coordinator, Ashley manages and coordinates Open House New York’s team of over 1,000 volunteers who donate their time and energy during Open House New York Weekend helping out at one of several hundred participating sites and tours.


Before joining Open House New York, Ashley worked as the Executive Assistant at the environmental advocacy organization Waterkeeper Alliance, where she also created and managed a volunteer internship program. Ashley grew up in Columbus, Ohio and received a BA in Communication from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, along with minors in Managing Human Relations and Photography. Throughout her career, Ashley has always had a deep passion for philanthropy and volunteerism – or helping people help the world, as she likes to think of it. She loves New York and enjoys every opportunity to share this amazing city with others.

A few fun facts about Ashley:

  • She designed and led a custom tour of New York City based on the musical “Hamilton.” It involved 12 miles of walking and included a stop in Weehawken, New Jersey!
  • She makes her own (delicious) cold brew coffee.
  • She is one quarter Syrian.
  • She participated in Open House London in 2009.

You can contact Ashley at volunteer@ohny.org for more information about volunteering during Open House New York Weekend on October 15 and 16. Register to volunteer today by clicking here!

Zoning Hunt Collage

On Saturday, July 9th, almost 300 people in 76 teams participated in the Zoning New York Scavenger Hunt, a day-long race across the city to visit as many zoning-related sites and landmarks as possible. The event was organized by Open House New York in partnership with the Museum of the City of New York in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the creation of New York City’s 1916 Zoning Resolution, the first such law passed by any city in the United States. The enthusiasm and excitement of the participants served as a vivid illustration of New Yorkers’ passion for learning about their city and how it is shaped.

Upon checking in, teams received booklets containing 60 clues (and three bonus clues) and were tasked with figuring out what site each clue was referring to, and then visiting and photographing their team at as many of those sites as possible before 5:00 PM. Clues were worth different amounts depending on their difficulty and their distance from the starting and ending locations in Manhattan. What follows is a breakdown of everything that happened over the course of the day.


Total # of photos submitted: 1,204
Photos submitted per hour: 172
Photos submitted per minute: 2.9


Teams that went to at least one outer borough: 54 (including the top 30 teams)
Teams that went to 2-3 outer boroughs: 40 (including the top 18 teams)
Teams that visited all five boroughs: 1 (Bored of Standards and Appeals)


Most popular outer borough sites:

  1. Clue #17: Verrazano Narrows Bridge, Brooklyn/Staten Island (32 teams—though most took their photo from afar)
  2. Clue #8: One Hanson Place, Brooklyn (24 teams)
  3. Clue #51: New York Wheel Construction Site, Staten Island (22 teams)
  4. Clue #36: Dino’s Wonder Wheel, Coney Island, Brooklyn (21 teams)
  5. Clue #26: Sheepshead Bay Bridge, Brooklyn (20 teams)


Most correctly-identified sites:

  1. Clue #1: Woolworth Building, Manhattan (46 teams)
  2. Clue #2: Equitable Building, Manhattan (46 teams)
  3. Clue #7: Empire State Building (39 teams)
  4. Clue #13: Seagram Building (37 teams)
  5. Clue #16: Zuccotti Park POPS (36 teams)


Clues most frequently answered incorrectly:

  1. Clue #29: Sidewalk Cafes (59.4% of teams who attempted this one thought the clue referred to the city’s street plazas—but these are managed and created by the Department of Transportation, not City Planning)
  2. Clue #39: Todt Hill Communications Tower (56.25% of teams who tried for this 15-pointer guessed the wrong tower, a mere 600 yards away from the correct answer)
  3. Clue #3: The O’Neill Building on the Ladies’ Mile (25.8% of the teams who went for this clue mistook the nearby building at 170 Fifth Avenue—which has one gold dome, not two as indicated in the clue—for the correct answer)


Least-visited sites:

  1. Clue #18: Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant, Brooklyn (1 team)
  2. Clue #47: 207th Street MTA Rail Yard, Manhattan (2 teams attempted, but just one got it right)
  3. Clue #49: The Edge, Brooklyn (3 teams attempted, 2 got it right)
  4. Bonus #3: Congregation Shearith Israel, Manhattan (3 teams attempted, 2 got it right)
  5. Clue #27: Mixed-Use Development site at 44th Drive at the East River, Queens (4 teams)


Farthest distance between two sites: As the crow flies, 24.25 miles separate Clue #37 (City Island) and Clue #39 (Todt Hill)
Shortest distance between two sites: Clue #2 (the Equitable Building) and Clue #16 (Zuccotti Park POPS) are a scant 75 feet apart


Total points scored: 3,730
Average points per team: 49
Median score (by request!): 47


Top 10 teams (by total points scored):

  1. Bored of Standards and Appeals (143)
  2. The Royal Counties (132)
  3. 421-Heyyy (112)
  4. The Broncks (96)
  5. Let’s Boogie! (94)
  6. Permitted Obstructionists (92)
  7. The Seven-Acre Shadow (90)
  8. ABNY Off the Gridders (89)
  9. Shabbas Hunters (88)
  10. Mies’s Pieces (85)

Congrats to the winners, and thank you to all of the participants who made this such a fun event!


In July 1916, New York became the first American city to adopt a radical zoning resolution to control the height, bulk, and use of its buildings, an act so unprecedented that its authors were not even sure it was legal. In the century since, zoning has become the city’s most potent instrument for shaping its future.

Open House New York and the Museum of the City of New York invite you to celebrate the centennial anniversary of New York City’s zoning resolution with a citywide scavenger hunt to uncover how the invisible forces of zoning have shaped the city around us, from the dramatic setbacks of Jazz Age skyscrapers to the vast open plazas of mid-century Modernism.

The Zoning New York Scavenger hunt is co-presented with Open House New York and the Museum of the City of New York in anticipation of a major exhibition celebrating the centennial of New York City’s zoning resolution, Mastering the Metropolis: New York and Zoning 1916-2016, opening at the Museum of the City of New York on November 9, 2016.


How it Works:

  • Players must register in advance, as space is limited, and may play solo or in teams of up to 6 people. One person will register for your team and will be asked to submit a team name and the names of team members.
  • Each team will also be required to designate one Instagram account from which they will submit photos during the course of the scavenger hunt. Only photos submitted via this account will be counted toward your team’s total.

  • The person who registers your team will receive a follow-up email prompting them to send in any key info not provided on the registration form. If you don’t know your team name, all of the team members, or your preferred Instagram account when completing your registration, that info can be sent later, but must be confirmed prior to the event.

  • On July 9, check in at Open House New York (1133 Broadway, 2nd Floor) between 10 AM and 12 PM to receive clue pamphlets and Zoning New York Scavenger Hunt t-shirts, which will need to worn in each photo submitted in order to earn points.

  • From 10 AM – 5 PM, decipher clues and race across the city posting photos of you and your team in front of the key zoning sites hinted at in more than sixty clues.

  • At the end of the day, join us for a closing reception from 5:30-7:30 PM at the Museum of the City of New York (1220 Fifth Avenue between 104th and 103rd Street) where drinks and snacks will be served, winners announced, and prizes awarded!


Event Details
Zoning New York Scavenger Hunt
Saturday, July 9th, 2016
Check-in: 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Hunt: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Closing Reception: 5:30 – 7:30 PM
Tickets: $30 per team member