An amazing group of more than 1,400 people from across New York and around the world have signed up to volunteer and help make the 2016 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 Julia Xiao, one of our volunteer photographers, and Iván Huerta, a first time Open House New York volunteer!



A special team of photographers volunteer their time and expertise during OHNY Weekend to help us document the festival each year. 


Name: Julia Xiao
Occupation: Architect
Neighborhood: Upper West Side

Favorite spot in New York City?
I love stumbling upon hidden gems like the Elizabeth Street Garden. It’s a quiet green space in the middle of a bustling downtown that instantly transports one to a place of tranquility and peace. I love coming here on a weekend afternoon to read or just enjoy a respite from Soho.

Best OHNY memory?
​I recently participated in the OHNY zoning scavenger hunt and though my team did not win, we visited so many sites in four boroughs in one whirlwind day!

Why are you volunteering for OHNY Weekend?
I love photographing buildings and wanted to put my photography passion to good use. Excited to see new interiors I would otherwise never be able to access and the tours led by industry experts are always super educational.

If you were a New York City landmark, what would you be?
I would want to be the Flatiron Building because it is timeless.​

Fun fact?
I ran my first Brooklyn half marathon this May!

What was your favorite photograph that you took during last year’s OHNY Weekend and why?
​I enjoyed photographing for OHNY. Last year, I had the pleasure of photographing Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. It reminded me of Père Lachaise in Paris.



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: Iván Huerta
Occupation: Art Director
Neighborhood: Harlem

Favorite spot in New York City?
Central Park. It’s right across my building! I love all the nature, the gardens, lakes and how peaceful it can be. It’s my sanctuary when I seek relaxation. I also go jogging regularly. Everyday in Central Park is different and it can certainly be an adventure! Sledding on its hills during winter is so much fun too!

Best Open House New York memory?
Last year when my sister was in town we attended some OHNY events. We went to a site in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan. It was a great bonding experience since we both love architecture and New York City. She is an architect and seeing everything from her perspective was very interesting and it surely added more excitement to the tours.

Why are you volunteering for OHNY Weekend?
I’m excited to be part of a project that promotes and celebrates the architecture of the greatest city in the world. I feel honored to be part of an organization that brings unprecedented access to historical and contemporary architectural jewels.

If you were a New York City landmark, what would you be?
I would probably be the 432 Park Avenue building. To date, this building is the tallest in Midtown East. Being that tall and in the middle of the island, the views from it must be astonishing! You can see Midtown, the Empire State Building, 1 WTC, and to the north, Central Park, the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side. This building is very close to the Chrysler Building, which is my favorite building, therefore I would be able to contemplate its beauty every day! Plus, I love the minimal design of 432 Park Avenue.

Fun fact?
I have watched all six seasons of Sex and the City over eight times to the point that I have memorized some of the dialogues.

Favorite architectural detail in New York City?
My favorite architectural detail would be the crown of the Chrysler Building. I love how it reflects the rays of the sun during the day, providing a beautiful spectrum of colors as the sun goes down. Also, at night, the stunning V-shaped lighting reminds me of the vibrant energy of this city.


A huge thank you to Julia and Ivan and to the 1,400 individuals who registered to volunteer during the 2016 OHNY Weekend on October 15 and 16!