Posts Tagged 'field trip fridays'

Field Trip Friday: 5 Beekman Street

The staff at OHNY got a lucky treat yesterday afternoon. They were given special access to 5 Beekman Street near City Hall. Rushed through the space, they only had about 10 minutes to explore the space inside. But, what they found was amazing!

Abandoned for years, this building was built originally to house law offices.

The view when you first step in is of a wide open public space leading to the elevators. A huge amount of natural light fills the space and when you walk in further and look up you see why.

The building has a 9-story atrium with delicate iron work along each of the floor balconies.

Through the glass ceiling, you get great view of of the surrounding buildings.

Here is a gorgeous view of the Woolworth Building and on the other side, you can get a peak of Frank Gehry’s new residential tower.

It is impressive how well the atrium and building details have be preserved over the years since parts of it were shuttered back in the 1940s.

From the eighth floor down, you find more ornate details with iron work and ceiling panels that line the walkways around the atrium balconies.

The tile in the building is all original and in some parts it so well preserved that it has been covered in order to protect it for later use.

OHNY originally learned about this building from the blog Scouting New York. You can see the original blog post from November 2010 here.

OHNY is proud to have 5 Beekman Street as part of this year’s  OHNY Weekend that takes place this October 15 & 16. It will be a reservation only site and a lucky group of people will also be given access to this amazing abandoned treasure. Stay tuned for more details. Hopefully, this tour will last a little longer than 10 minutes!

5 Beekman Street


Field Trip Friday: Austrian Cultural Forum

Back in late May, OHNY’s program coordinator, Jailee headed over to the Austrian Cultural Forum to view the exhibition Fünf Räume (on view until September 5th). It can be easy to pass by the Austrian Cultural Forum building without noticing it since it sits among all the other tall buildings in Midtown. However, if you are across the street and happen to glance up the building’s unique design and verticality is very striking. The building, occupying a space of 25 feet wide by 81 feet deep and consisting of 24 floors, is tall and thin. It was designed by Austrian-born American architect, Raimund Abraham.

Austrian Cultural Forum Exterior

The concept of the current exhibition is focused on the unique architecture of the Forum’s gallery spaces. Five contemporary Austrian artists were invited to produce a new piece of art in a particular space, or room (Fünf Räume literally means 5 rooms or spaces in German). The artists chosen have had success in their native country but have yet to gain recognition in the U.S. Their work displays how space can be altered in a most unassuming yet powerful way. Even the entry space of the Forum has been turned into a work of art by Esther Stocker, who has two installations in the exhibition.

Esther Stocker

Esther Stocker, Untitled (2011)

As you walk up to the upper galleries, you encounter a work be Clemens Hollerer that evokes the idea of barriers and boundaries as his color choice is much like the colors used for police barriers.

Clemens Hollerer, On the Other Side (2011)

In the upper gallery is another installation by Esther Stocker that visitors can walk through if careful. It is interesting to see how the work changes as you move throughout the room.

Esther Stocker, Untitled (2011)

As you walk down into the lower mezzanine gallery, you find Zenita Komad and Michael Kienzer’s The Empty Mirror, 2011. This piece using only mirrors, chairs and words, creates a somber and slightly menacing aura. The 16 chairs represent the pawns of a chess game and allude to the important yet inferior role that the pawn plays in the game of chess and, ultimately, in the game of life.

Zenita Komad and Michael Kienzer, The Empty Mirror (2011)

Daniel Domig’s piece in the lower gallery is a cage like structure featuring the only figurative work in the exhibition, featuring haunting paintings of figures that are hung on the exterior of the structure.

Daniel Domig, The Eyes are not Here, There are no Eyes Here (2011)

The exhibition Fünf Räume will be up through Labor Day Weekend and is free and open to the public daily from 10am-6pm. The Austrian Cultural Forum hosts a number of concerts, event and exhibitions. See their calendar of events for more details. They will also be participating in this year’s OHNY on Oct 15 & 16. Tours of the building will available on demand.

All Photos by David Plakke

Austrian Cultural Forum
11 East 52nd Street
New York, NY 10022

Field Trip Friday: United Nations Headquarters

Last week the OHNY staff (all three of us!) stepped outside the boundaries of the U.S. and entered into international territory to visit the United Nations Headquarters located in Turtle Bay. If you walk inside the boundaries of the U. N. (between 1st Ave and the East River from 42nd Street up to 48th Street) you are, in fact, walking in an area governed not by the United States, but by the U.N., which has its own police and fire department and its own postal service. As you enter the U.N. Visitors Center, you pass an impressive line of flags, 193 in all, representing all of the member countries. They are laid out in alphabetical order starting with Afghanistan and finishing with Zimbabwe. Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd’s anti-gun sculpture titled Non-Violence sits outside as a symbol of international peace.

Outside the U.N.

Non-violence sculpture, donated to the U.N. by Luxemburg

The NY Headquarters, built in 1952, consist of four buildings: the Secretariat building, the General Assembly building, the Conference building and the Dag Hammarskjold Library, which was added in 1961. Rather than holding a competition for the buildings, the United Nations Board of Design was created, an international committee of architects that included Le Corbusier, Oscar Niemeyer and Wallace K. Harrison, among others.

U.N. General Assembly building atrium

U.N. General Assembly building atrium

The tour of the building started in the impressive Security Council, with its iconic circular wood table, a gift of Norway. The primary purpose of the Security Council is to promote peace and to discuss and defuse international conflicts. The Presidency of the Security Council rotates each month; each member country getting a turn.

U.N. Security Council

The other main highlight of the tour was the General Assembly, the main conference hall where all 193 member States of the U.N. meet to discuss international issues. It features a large golden wall that sits just behind the podium and upper booth areas that are reserved for the official translators (as seen in the movie The Translator with Nicole Kidman and Sean Penn).

U.N. General Assembly

Along the tour, there are also a number of exhibits that represent the three main goals of the U.N. – peacekeeping and security, upholding and maintaining human rights, and social and economical development. Other exhibits serve as reminders of the international catastrophes that have taken place in the past due to war and conflict. You can see a status of St. Agnes that was found face-down in the ruins after the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. Also on view is the official document of the U.N. rejecting the denial of the holocaust.

St. Agnes statue

The tour is a great way to get an intimate view of how the U.N. functions and how it conducts international business on a daily basis. It also provides a sense of hope and solidarity, knowing that right here in New York, the U.N. is working to build a more peaceful and prosperous world.

The U.N. buildings are currently undergoing their first renovation since they were built. It is an extensive renovation that started 2009 and is scheduled to finish in 2013. Only the infrastructure of the buildings are being updated; the buildings, for the most part, will remain unaltered in honor of the international style and symbolic nature of the U.N. Headquarters. Access to the visitors center is free and open to the public daily from 9:00am – 5:30pm. Public tours will continue through the renovation and are now being conducted from the General Assembly building. For more information about tours prices and times click here.

The U.N. will also be conducting architectural tours during the 9th Annual OHNY Weekend taking place on October 15 &16. Stay tuned to find out more details soon!