Archive for May, 2010

Field Trip Friday: Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory

The Mast Brothers chocolate factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is New York City’s only bean to bar chocolate factory, where cacao beans are roasted, ground up, processed, aged, tempered and packaged into chocolate bars. Self-taught brothers Rick and Michael Mast renovated an old garage space, adding dark wood paneled counters and shelves, but kept the lofty, unfinished feel for their factory and store front.

Mast Brothers Chocolate display

There is a permanent chocolate scent that greets you as soon as you walk into the space, coming from the factory area in the back (and maybe those large bags of cacao beans stacked up around the shop area). There is also a great story that comes with the used convection oven– the Masts bartered 250 chocolate bars for the oven from Andrew Tarlow and Mark Firth, owners of Marlow & Sons, the well-known restaurant and shop in South Williamsburg.

Where the magic happens

Michael and Rick started experimenting with different recipes in their Williamsburg apartment before coming up with their distinct artisan chocolate, which they personally craft in small batches with cacao beans sourced from family farms in Venezuela, Ecuador and Madagascar.
Their laborious process involves breaking down roasted beans into pieces, shelling them and then grinding them into a paste. This gets kneaded and refined until they are satisfied with the texture and flavors produced. To learn more about the process, watch this 4 minute video on Cool Hunting.

Sacks of cacao beans

In addition to coming in unique flavors such as Dark Chocolate + Fleur de Sel, the bars are also beautifully wrapped in Florentine paper and paper designed by local artists, making great gifts.

Mast Brothers Chocolate Factory
105 North 3rd Street, Brooklyn, NY
Get Subway and Bus Directions from HopStop


The Glass House

This past last Saturday, OHNY’s executive director, Renee Schacht, attended The Glass House, a new play about Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson and how the Farnsworth House and the Glass House came to be.  Written by June Finfer and produced by Kyle Bergman, an architect along with his brother Evan Bergman, a director, the play opens with a monologue by a very stoic Mies (played by Harris Yulin), setting the stage to reveal the architect/client relationship with Dr. Edith Farnsworth that goes awry.

This stirring play will have you seeking out biographies about Mies and Johnson—wanting to learn more about the romance between Mies and Farnsworth as well as the relationship between one of the great masters of Modern Architecture and his onetime student and collaborator—along with planning weekend trips to New Canaan, CT and Plano, IL to experience two of the most celebrated private residences in America.

The Glass House is presented by Resonance Ensemble at the Clurman Theatre, 410 West 42nd Street (between 9th and 10th Avenues), through June 5 with special post performance speakers on May 26th, 28th, June 1 and June 2rd.  For more information:

Field Trip Friday: Diana Center at Barnard

OHNY program coordinator, Hae-In, recently dropped by the Diana Center, the newest building on Barnard’s campus in Morningside Heights. Designed by Weiss/Manfredi and opened in February, the Diana Center serves as the student activity center and is also utilized by the art, architecture and performance departments.

Diana Center on campus

The building stands out as one approaches campus along Broadway. The Diana Center boasts classrooms, a studio, library, administrative and gallery space for the architecture and art history departments, as well as space for student services and activities, café, green roof and event space. 1,154 clear and colored integral glass panels make up the facade, blending with the brick and terra cotta buildings of the surrounding campus and also creating a light-filled, energy-efficient exterior.

Glass exterior

The building responds to the quality of daylight, and the orange ranges from a dark rust color to lighter copper tones. The vertical stripes of color on glass allow for some privacy and shade but also allows one to look out onto the street and lawn.

Cafe and lounge area

The architects studied how undergraduates lounge, work and socialize and incorporated their findings into the interior’s design, creating a variety of spaces and utilizing movable furniture.


The openness of the building encourages social activity and interaction.

Side view

Certified as LEED Silver, the building takes its namesake from the Roman goddess, Diana, and also donor Diana Touliatou Vagelos ‘55.  Vagelos and her husband Roy donated $15 million, the largest gift in Barnard’s history, for the project. Please see their website to take a self guided walking tour.

The Diana Center at Barnard College
3009 Broadway, New York, NY
Get Subway and Bus Directions from HopStop

Field Trip Friday: Istanbul, Turkey

From the time it was ruled by the Roman Empire, when the city was known as Constantinople, to being conquered by Ottoman Turks in the 1400s, Istanbul is steeped in history and culture. Jessica, OHNY’s program manager along with her best friend Colleen embarked on a 5,026-mile journey to Istanbul, Turkey for two weeks in April. The idea of traveling to Istanbul seemed exciting and intriguing – different cultures, amazing architecture and design and being able to travel to Europe and Asia just by crossing a bridge or taking a ferry. They met friendly, welcoming locals, visited magnificent mosques and majestic palaces and walked a lot!

Jessica & Colleen on a cruise on the Bosphorous River

Their home base during their stay was in the Sultanahmet District, named for Sultan Ahmet I, who constructed the Blue Mosque, and the area is considered the “historic, old Istanbul.” The Old City is filled with narrow, winding and cobbled streets with a plethora of architectural wonders. Some of the major attractions are located in Sultanahmet including the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul Archaeological Museum, and Basilica Cistern.

Blue Mosque (completed 1617)

Blue Mosque

Named for its more than 20,000 handmade blue, ceramic tiles in the interior, the mosque was designed by Sedefkâr Mehmet Ağa. It features over 200 stained glass windows and six minarets from which the call to prayer is projected on a PA system five times daily beginning at sunrise and ending after sunset, and can be heard throughout the old section of the city.

Blue Mosque - interior

Hagia Sophia (completed in the year 537)

Hagia Sophia

A museum since 1935, it was originally the central church of Christendom and later converted as a mosque from 1453 until 1934. It is an example of Byzantine architecture and contains a grand dome, mosaics and marble pillars.

Topkapi Palace (built between 1459 to 1465)

Topkapi Palace entrance

Constructed under the reign of Sultan Mehmet II, the palace was used by sultans for over 400 years. Over the course of many centuries, each ruling sultan would add lavish architectural structures to create a series of buildings extending over four successive courtyards, each more elaborate than the last. The palace housed facilities including the state mint, arsenal and sultan’s court.

Basilica Cistern (completed in the 6th century)

Medusa head

Also known as the “sunken palace,” the cistern was created to bring fresh water to the city in case of a siege. As you enter into this underground waterway, the walkways are dimly lit and in the water you can see fish in a variety of sizes swimming throughout the entire site. There are 336 marble columns, and the main feature of the cistern is the two upturned Medusa heads. For James Bond fans, a portion of the film From Russia with Love was filmed in the cistern.

Additional highlights:

Seaside lunch with a view of the Black Sea

They explored other sites outside of the Istanbul city center such as a day trip drive along the coast of the Black Sea.

A visit wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the Grand Bazaar and the Egyptian Bazaar (Spice Market).

Grand Bazaar

Spice Market

They ended their last full day in Istanbul sipping Turkish tea at Gülhane Park while enjoying spectacular views of the city with their tour guide for the day Erhan Topaloglu.

A view of the city from Gülhane Park

Colleen with Erhan - their tour guide for the day

Limelight Marketplace Opening

Walking into the marketplace

The Limelight Marketplace opened this afternoon (a little behind schedule). Located nearby our office on 6th Avenue and 20th Street, OHNY dropped by the opening today for a quick peek. Although the name references the infamous nightclub, the space has been transformed into a mini mall, with remnants of the 163-year-old church. The only thing that reminded us of a nightclub was the red carpet rolled out for the opening!

Baked good shops

More than 50 shops are housed in its 20,000-square-feet, on three different levels. The first floor showcases the big name boutiques, such as Le Sportsac, Selima Optique, Havaianas and Hunter Boots. There is also a sweets and bakery area, with several cake, cupcake and chocolate vendors, including Cupcake Stop and MarieBelle.


The second floor is reminiscent of SoHo’s Bloomingdales in its look and layout, with a beauty counter area, clothing boutiques and housewares. Brocade has its own little nook, with mirrored wallpaper and show rooms. The third floor is open and more of a terrace, with a great bird’s eye view of all the activity on the lower floors. Amidst all the bright lights and striped awnings, the cathedral ceiling with its pointed arches and stained glass windows remain, giving the space a unique feel.

Upper level

The Marketplace has a wide array of retailers and uses every nook and cranny of the space. Grimaldi’s, the famed Brooklyn pizzeria, will be opening their first Manhattan location here in a few weeks– and they will be selling pizza by the slice! That merits another OHNY field trip, right around lunch time.

Field Trip Friday: Fashion26 Hotel

OHNY recently took a short neighborhood field trip to see the newly opened Fashion 26, part of the Wyndham Hotel chain. As its name suggests, the hotel capitalizes on its location in the Fashion District (on West 26th Street) and incorporates fashion conscious elements such as the reception desk modeled after a cutting-room table and the Mondrian inspired art piece made of spools of thread.

Fashion 26 front desk

Deirdre Yack, Director of Sales & Marketing, led OHNY on a tour of the 280-room hotel, which just opened on April 15th.  Glen Coben designed the 22-story, glass-and-steel interior, making sure to include inspiration from the neighborhood.


The bedrooms reflect the neighborhood with pinstripe carpeting, button logos on the door numbers and a herringbone throw blanket, providing a comfortable yet upscale environment.

RARE Bar & Grill

The hotel’s restaurant is RARE Bar & Grill and there will also be a RARE View rooftop bar, currently under construction, which will take advantage of the views of the Empire State Building.


The hotel’s hallways will host a rotating art program, showcasing photography from nearby Fashion Institute of Technology students. Winning photographs will be selected for display through a photography competition for FIT students, “Style Through My Eyes.”

Fashion 26 Hotel
152 West 26th Street New York, NY

Field Trip Friday: Noguchi Museum

Recently, OHNY staffer Hae-In visited the Noguchi Museum which houses the works of Isamu Noguchi, including the artist’s works in stone, metal, wood, and clay, as well as models for public projects and gardens, dance sets, and Akari Light Sculptures. Designed by Noguchi, the Museum is made up of thirteen galleries in a converted factory building. It first opened in 1985 and re-opened in June 2004 after a two-and-a-half year long renovation. The renovation created the Museum’s education center, a new cafe and gift shop, improved handicap accessibility, and a heating and cooling system that allows the Museum to remain open year-round.

Noguchi first level gallery

The Museum retains the raw industrial factory space feel, especially in the first floor galleries, which serve as a clean, simple background for Noguchi’s stoneworks.  The museum provides laminated cards that show the names of the various sculptures and materials. Many of the sculptures highlight the contrast of textures, polished and rough, and some have carved out areas and holes.

Scultpure garden entrance

The garden space provides a serene oasis, with a path winding past some of Noguchi’s major granite and basalt sculptures and trees and bamboo. Benches also allow visitors to sit and take in the sculptures in the open air.

Upstairs gallery

The upstairs collection also showcases Noguchi’s range, with works dating back to his early years, as well as his collaborative works with other artists.

Sculptures in the garden

The Noguchi Museum offers a variety of education and public programs that seek to introduce the work and vision of Isamu Noguchi to diverse audiences. As a sculptor, Noguchi aimed to unlock the beauty of each rock. The museum’s simple design and calm atmosphere reflect Noguchi’s artistic sensibility and provide a quiet refuge amidst the industrial area of Long Island City.

Noguchi Museum
3338 10th Street, Long Island City, NY