Above: A detail of the OHNY Weekend planning wall.

Reservation Day is equal parts exhilarating and exhausting at OHNY. On the one hand, it is the last step, before the Weekend itself, in a journey that began for OHNY’s small staff of four (yes, four) this past January, when we sat down with our Weekend wish lists to start mapping out this year’s event. Over the past ten months, we have been inviting sites, coordinating participation, registering volunteers, and otherwise working through the thousands of details that are necessary to organize an event like OHNY Weekend. All of that planning only comes to life when we release the full list of sites to the public, as we did this week, and see all of you respond with such excitement. It is enormously gratifying and a reminder of what a privilege it is to work at OHNY.

At the same time, the increasing scale of OHNY Weekend is astonishing. Here are some numbers to put it in perspective: Yesterday alone, our website fielded more than 34,000 visitors, who viewed 294,000 pages. In the hour between 11am and noon, 7,000 people booked reservations, selling out more than 300 tours, an extraordinary 75% increase over the past two years. It is hard for all of us–staff and audience alike–to fathom. OHNY Weekend is, after all, a series of architecture tours; that it has reached the status of rock concert attests to how passionate New Yorkers are about architecture and their city.

As exciting as it is to see this overwhelming enthusiasm for design, we recognize that it has an unfortunate downside and that the reservation process continues to be a huge source of frustration. We know that it is an imperfect system and are genuinely doing what we can with limited resources to improve it. Our apologies are cold comfort for those of you who did not get the tours you wanted, but please know that we are deeply sorry when anyone comes away disappointed. Every year we work hard to increase the amount of space available at sites that require reservations and do our best to provide as much access as possible to meet the massive and ever-growing demand.

To focus only on reservations not made, however, is to risk overlooking the fact that the majority of sites that open their doors during Open House New York Weekend do not require any reservations at all. And it is worth emphasizing that this is a list that includes some of the most iconic buildings and interior spaces in New York City, such as City Hall, the New York State Pavilion, Jefferson Market Library, the Four Seasons restaurant, the Ford Foundation, and, yes, the TWA Flight Center at JFK. You can visit all of these sites, and about 150 more, just by showing up during the days and hours they are open. Click here to see the full list of Open Access sites.

Thank you for your continued support of Open House New York and we wish you a wonderful OHNY Weekend!

Gregory Wessner
Executive Director