Archive for October, 2009

OHNY Halloween

As the fall season settles in, we at OHNY celebrated the harvest and the Halloween holiday by holding a pumpkin-carving contest this past weekend with our flatmates, anderson architects. The festivities began promptly at four o’clock, and the scooping and scraping and sculpting of gourds ensued.

The competition stoked not just our creativity, but our appetites as well. In addition to our scrumptious spread of cheeses, crackers, olives, and sweets, we were treated to pumpkin pie cocktails, courtesy of our departing volunteer coordinator, Andrew.
The only thing missing in all of this was a set of candles to illuminate the insides of our pumpkins! Improvising and enterprising as we are, we turned upside-down some desk lamps and stood back to admire our handiwork and to allow the impartial panel of judges to select the winner of the contest.
Although Team OHNY did not win, the party was still a great success.
Happy Halloween!
pumpkin carving

Pumpkin carving in the conference area


Hollowing out our pumpkin


Pumpkin flavored refreshments


Hipster pumpkin

2009 Pumkin Carving 025

Winning pumpkin


Pumpkin lighting


Go Govino

Govino_credit Bruce McDonald (3)It’s always seemed that the only options when serving wine at an event were to risk breakage of stemware or pour the vino into a disposable cup, hardly befitting what’s been known for centuries as “the nectar of the gods.”

In search of an option that would provide the best of both worlds, our fearless Executive Director at OHNY, Renee Schacht, found the perfect solution: a beautifully designed, shatterproof plastic wine glass created by a great company called Govino.

Designed to mimic crystal’s properties of accentuating the color and aroma of fine wine, they are also the spitting image of their more fragile predecessors, with many OHNY patrons believing they were about to pick up a piece of glassware instead of a lightweight, unbreakable facsimile. With breakability removed from the equation, the only danger at events where we use these beauties is the risk of some folks bringing them home for their own personal reuse!

You might have seen them used at events sponsored by the Museum of Art and Design and Derek Lam, as well as at recent OHNY fundraisers, including the launch party for the 2009 Open House Weekend. And since Govino glasses are practically indestructible and meant for reuse, you’ll be seeing them at many more openhousenewyork events in the future!

Being an organization that highlights excellence in design, we’re thrilled to introduce these gorgeous, reusable, and recyclable (#1 plastic) pieces to our supporters. We’d like to raise a toast to Govino for the great work, and for donating their product to OHNY!

If you’d like to purchase your own, you can find a list of retailers or place an order here.

DL2img_8643_2 DL7img_8651_2 DL3img_8646_2

OHNY Weekend Experience: 19 Sites in 3 Boroughs

ohny franklin_amazing race

Our mission at OHNY is to encourage and inspire fans of New York to get out there and explore the city.

To prepare for OHNY Weekend, most people pick up a guide in the paper or print one out from our website, sit down at the coffee table with a tablet and a sharpened #2 pencil, and outline a list of places that they’re interested in seeing. From the stories you’ve shared with us over the years, we hear that three or four sites per day tends to be the mean for OHNY Weekend visitors.

However, with over 300 sites, tours, and programs in all five boroughs on this year’s roster, there’s plenty of room for one (or two, since it’s more fun with a friend) with the the right combination of planning acumen and frenetic energy to make the most of our offerings. Possessing those qualities in spades, these two consummate OHNY Weekend enthusiasts are always determined to skew the bell curve when it comes to the number of sites visited, and they’ve generously agreed to share their strategy for success with us.

“OK, we admit it. We have been addicted to Open House New York from the very first year. We are competitive, and sometimes a little schadenfreude slips in when we ask people what they have seen during the weekend. Our old OHNY weekend record was three boroughs and 16 sites so this year we wanted to top that a little.

Our approach is simple and simply insane. We want to see as many of the places that we have not seen and to do it in an efficient way, but also allow for the serendipity to slip in. The result is a strategic plan that looks a little like a military operation on the beaches of Normandy and a little like game-show shopping-spree madness.

That madness begins that Thursday night when the OHNY website begins to upload the sites for the weekend. We first look for the reservation-only sites and decide which to request. We only like to make 2 or 3 site reservations so not to be boxed into too many organized tours. We then pare down list to sites that are hard to get into and that we have not seen. This reduces much of the list. After living in New York for 20 years and being members of the Institute of Classical Architecture, VSA and avid readers of Justin Ferate’s emails and and attending OHNY year round events, we can get the list down to about 40 places.

Next we usually decide one day is public transportation and the other will require a car. (We have had to double park and take turns at some sites.) We then make a tight list of 12 must-see sights and a wish list of another 15 if there is time.

We are able to get some fun extras in this year like an amazing lunch special at a Japanese restaurant a few doors up from Grace Church, with a waitress who kept re-arranging our plates and chop sticks throughout the meal (a real type A after my own heart), cappuccino at the illy Push Button House, and a free piano concert after the behind the scenes tour of the Brooklyn Public Library.

We know that this type of touring is not for most people. Some people are only interested in buildings in their community, iconic structures, tours, etc. But our advice to everyone to talk the other OHNYers, change your mind, arrive early, show up at reservation sights and see if there is space if a tour was overbooked, and make your dream plan for next year.

Anyway, enough blogging. Here is the list. The first day was accomplished entirely by public transportation (we read the MTA website for all the service changes) and the second day was by car.”

Franklin, Queens

The Itinerary:


First Baptist Church

Chapel of the Good Shepherd
Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation
First Baptist Church, 265 W 79th St/ Broadway, New York
New School: Orozco Room
Kips Bay Towers
Morgan Library & Museum: Thaw Conservation Center
Grace Church in New York
Church of the Ascension, The
New School, Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, The
St. Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church
Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew — NEW SITE ADDITION
Richard Meier & Partners Model Museum
illy Push Button House


Newtown CreekWastewater

93 Nevins
Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant
Grand Prospect Hall
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
Christ Church, Cobble Hill
Brooklyn Public Library

Images from the 2009 OHNY Weekend

The Standard, Sean Hemmerle

The Standard, Sean Hemmerle

Check out our Facebook photos from the 7th Annual OHNY Weekend, including the Launch Party at the Visionaire and the 2nd Annual Family Festival at the Center for Architecture!

Focus on Architecture Photo Competition

Cunard Building, Joseph Barretto

Cunard Building, Joseph Barretto

Enter the 2009 focus on architecture competition!

Enter your OHNY Weekend photos into the 2009 focus on architecture competition! Load your photos into the 2009 OHNY Weekend flickr pool for all to see, and then select your favorites to submit to the competition. Deadline for the competition is Friday, October 23 – learn more about the rules and regulations here.  Mail in your waiver to the OHNY office, at 555 West 25th Street, 6th floor, New York, NY 10001 and email your statement to

Photos will be reviewed by our award winning judges in four categories: building interiors, exteriors, details, people.

In addition, place your Weekend photos in the 2009 OHNY Weekend flickr pool for everyone to enjoy!

Guide in Metro on Friday!

UPDATE: The 2009 OHNY Weekend event guide will also be inserted in Friday’s Metro New York at Grand Central, Penn Station and Union Square locations!

OHNY in The New York Times!

Check out our feature in The New York Times with City Critic, Ariel Kaminer, including this video!