Archive for January, 2011

Save the Date

OHNY Annual Benefit
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
6:30 – 9 pm

Join openhousenewyork for an evening of cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and auction at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, designed by H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture in the Baryshnikov Arts Center.

Purchase tickets today.

The DiMenna Center for Classical Music is at 450 West 37th Street

(Image courtesy of H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture.)


Field Trip Friday: The Explorers Club

Last weekend the OHNY board and staff got together for a meeting, which was held at the Explorers Club, the site of our 2007 Annual Benefit. The Explorers Club, located on the Upper East Side, is the headquarters of the “international multidisciplinary society dedicated to the advancement of field research and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore.”

Explorers Club display

Founded in 1904, The Explorers Club promotes the scientific exploration of land, sea, air, and space by supporting research and education in the physical, natural and biological sciences. The Club’s members have been among those to be first to reach the North Pole, the South Pole, the summit of Mount Everest, the deepest point in the ocean, and the surface of the moon, to name a few.

Fireplace of the Clark Room

The Club has served as a meeting place for explorers and scientists from all over the world and provides expedition resources including funding, online information, consultation and a vast network of expertise, technology and support. They also encourage public interest in exploration through lectures, publications, and events, inviting accomplished explorers and scientists to share their experience and findings.

Explorers Club flags

Their flag represents their history of accomplishments and has been carried on hundreds of expeditions by Club members since 1918. Today there are 202 numbered flags, each with its own story, and several of them line the walls.

Polar bear

The Explorers Club has roughly 30 chapters in the United States and around the world. The seven founding members included two polar explorers, the curator of birds and mammals at The American Museum of Natural History, an archaeologist, a war correspondent and author, a professor of physics and an ethnologist. Today the members are made up of field scientists and explorers from over 60 countries in a wide range of disciplines including aeronautics, archaeology, mountaineering, oceanography, physics and zoology.

Library Room

Lorie Karnath has been the Club’s president since 2009. Having traveled the world setting up programs that help foster creativity, discovery and science, Karnath has led several expeditions, most recently following the migration patterns of white storks, and she is also a children’s book author and patron of the arts.

The Trophy Room

The Club also acts as a center for research, with a library and map room housing its Research Collections.

Honored members photos

The Research Collections contain unique art, archives, film, photos, maps, manuscripts and memorabilia related to the Club’s members and includes papers of the Arctic Club of America, as well as many other original materials. Access to collections is available by appointment.

The Explorers Club
46 East 70th Street
New York, NY

Field Trip Friday: The Chatwal Hotel

Two weeks ago OHNY staffers Jessica and Hae-In took a tour of the Chatwal Hotel, located in Midtown West with Emily Venugopal, Vice President at The Brandman Agency and Joel Freyberg, the hotel’s General Manager.

The Lambs Club restaurant

The Chatwal is located in a Stanford White-designed building originally opened in 1905 as the famous Lambs Club, whose members included Fred Astaire, Irving Berlin, John Barrymore and other American theater legends. The building was expanded in 1915, doubling its size and creating a mirror image of the original. It was then restored and renovated by architect Thierry Despont, with a 1930’s Art Deco feel.

Lobby Reception desk

The 83-room hotel is named after Indian entrepreneur Sant-Singh Chatwal, father of hotelier Vikram Chatwal, and a fitness lounge, spa services, and meeting and banquet facilities can also be found on-site. The theme of the “Golden Age of Travel” is emphasized throughout the space, with many custom-designed luxuries.

Bar with Empire State light fixtures

Joel led the staff through the space, pointing out many of these details, as well as regaling the staff with the colorful biography of Stanford White, partner at architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White. White is known for designing the Washington Square Arch, Madison Square Garden and the New York Herald Building as well as summer homes for wealthy and prominent American families, including the Astors and Vanderbilts.

Stanford White suite

White was a very well known architect as well as a charmer and became involved with Evelyn Nesbit, a popular young actress at the time. Joel told us about their romance, the infamous red velvet swing and the evening of June 25, 1906, when Stanford White was shot and killed by Harry Kendall Thaw, whom Evelyn had eventually married, in a fit of jealous rage. Ironically, White was shot at the supper club theater on the roof of Madison Square Garden, which he designed. And it was the first time that a defense attorney invoked the plea of temporary insanity and won.

closet resembling a suitcase

Thus it comes as no surprise that the rooms are stocked with copies of American Eve, a book about about Evelyn Nesbit and Stanford White, as well as The Great Gatsby and a backgammon set. The closet also illustrates how the travel theme comes through — covered in leather, the design is inspired by a trunk or suitcase, with leather strap handles and a satisfying roominess.

In 1974, the building was designated a landmark by the New York City Landmarks and Preservation Commission and we look forward to The Chatwal joining us for the 9th Annual OHNY Weekend, October 15 & 16, 2011!

The Chatwal
128 West 44th Street
New York, NY

Images courtesy of Phillip Ennis

Focus on Architecture: Story Behind the Photo

The last post of stories behind the winning photos from the 2010 Focus on Architecture competition, today’s photo was taken during OHNY Weekend by Joseph Barretto at the Islamic Cultural Center on the Upper East Side and was selected as a winner in the Interiors category.  The judges liked the balance and simplicity of this image.

Light often plays a significant role in sacred architecture, so I was trying to capture its importance at the SOM-designed Islamic Cultural Center.  I was captivated by juxtapositions here: between artificial and natural light, between the simple curve of the circular arrangement of the fixtures and the angular and geometric shapes of the shadows on the wall as the mid-morning sun hit one of the Center’s upper windows.

I live in the Financial District, close to the proposed—and controversial—Park51.  Amid all the emotion surrounding that project, I thought openhousenewyork Weekend provided a great opportunity to visit New York City’s premier mosque.

The mission of OHNY is to celebrate New York City’s built-environment, but so often it also affords participants the prospect of appreciating the historical and cultural fabric that makes these spaces—and our city—unique.

Field Trip Friday: The DiMenna Center for Classical Music

Last week, OHNY staffers Hae-In and Renee took a hard-hat tour of the DiMenna Center for Classical Music, designed by H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture in a building on West 37th Street that also houses the Baryshnikov Arts Center. Director of Interior Design at H3, Margaret Sullivan, showed us the space.

hard hats in the DiMenna Center space

Built for the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, a 36-year-old local chamber orchestra, it will become a new rehearsal and recording space and is set to open in March 8 of this year. H3 is working with acoustical firm, Akustiks, to create the more than 20,000 square foot acoustically-optimized facility that will be NYC’s first dedicated space for rehearsal, recording and learning, designed specifically to meet the needs orchestral ensembles and musicians.

acoustically engineered wooden wall panels

Named after orchestra trustee Joe DiMenna, who generously gave the lead gift of $5 million, the space will have a large orchestra rehearsal hall, a chamber orchestra rehearsal hall, an ensemble room, two artist studios, a media center, a lounge and café for musicians, a music library, resource center and instrument storage facilities.

walls going up

Margaret highlighted one of the central spaces, Mary Flagler Cary Hall, which will accommodate rehearsals and recording sessions for a full symphony orchestra and chorus and will also have a skylight for natural illumination.

The design as a whole aims to provide a warm, nurturing environment for the musicians, eliminating outside noise, and utilizes a ‘box-in-a-box’ construction, with each room floating on pads and springs inside an acoustic isolation box made of concrete and concrete block.

different wall panels

Margaret also spoke about the wooden wall panels that have been custom designed for the space. The use of wood helps create a calm, relaxing feeling but is also acoustically functional and allows for a concert hall like appearance.

rendering of Mary Flagler Cary Hall

Throughout its first year, the DiMenna Center will host open rehearsals, community concerts and expanded education programs for Orchestra of St. Luke’s, as well as many other musical organizations.

The center is also expected to receive a LEED-CI Platinum certification which would make it one of the most energy and resource efficient music facilities in the U.S.

Restoration and Renovation of St. Francis Xavier

Saturday, February 5, 2010
1:30 – 3pm

Explore the restoration and renovation of the Church of Saint Francis Xavier, designed in an elaborate neo-Baroque style. The church, whose parish dates back to 1847, was designed by the noted architect Patrick Keely in 1878.

The campaign for the restoration and preservation of the Church of St. Francis Xavier began in 2001. EverGreene Architectural Arts and Thomas A. Fenniman Architect completed this extensive restoration project in 2010. Fenniman was recently internationally honored by Faith & Form: The Interfaith Journal on Religion, Art and Architecture, whose jurors commented: “This is a colossal restoration, an incredible undertaking. It is ambitious yet respectful. Every detail has been lavished with attention.”

Tour the church with the restoration architect and artists and hear about the techniques involved in the conservation of the church’s 47 murals, the restoration of its 35 plaster statues of saints, the extensive stone and marble cleaning and repair, and on-site architectural paint conservation and decorative painting. Learn more about the rich history of the parish community with the capital campaign director whose documentary about the entire process will premier in April 2011.

The program will begin at 1:30pm on Saturday, February 5. Tickets may be purchased here.

Focus on Architecture: Story Behind the Photo

This week’s photo was taken by David Hogarty on the Gowanus Canal canoe tour and was awarded a Judges Award.  The judges were very intrigued by the view (from the canoe!) of the silos, which are in Brooklyn but also looked like they could be in Soviet Russia.

OHNY always provides me with unique perspectives of NYC, and it’s one of the reasons I keep participating. I’ve lived in Brooklyn for years, and always found the Gowanus Canal intriguing–something I’d crane for a better view of when passing over on an elevated train. So an opportunity to see the canal from a canoe was an opportunity I seized.

As one paddles around the bend in the Gowanus Canal into the 4th Street Basin, it’s difficult to miss the cluster of concrete silos between 2nd Avenue and 6th Street. I’d seen them before, but never realized that the structures were perched on concrete stilts. Originally built between 1915 and 1924, the Burns Brothers Coal Pockets were part of the energy infrastructure that employed coal to fuel New York’s industries and heat its homes. Viewing the silos from below was a terrific perspective on a slice of the city’s history that now stands silent, although the canal itself is still an active waterway.