Friday, May 5, 2017

‘Celebrate 15 years of OHNY at Masonic Hall’


Open House New York is an annual city-wide event in which hundreds of landmarks and other notable properties are made open to the public—or made more open than is usual—so the curious may enjoy tours highlighting architecture, art, décor, and history. Masonic Hall, featuring all the above in abundance, is a generous participant, and it will be there that OHNY will throw its Spring Benefit later this month. From the publicity:

Open House New York
15th Anniversary Spring Benefit
Monday, May 15 at 7 p.m.
Masonic Hall
71 West 23rd Street
Tickets here

Since 2003, Open House New York Weekend has opened thousands of buildings across New York City to educate and engage the public about architecture, urban design, and the future of the city.

The 15th Anniversary Spring Benefit will be held in the legendary Masonic Hall, one of a handful of sites that has opened its doors for OHNY Weekend every year since the first. Following cocktails in the Grand Lodge Room, guests will sit down to dinner in one of several exuberantly decorated rooms that Open House New York will open for the evening.

Please join us in celebrating the importance of openness and access to a vibrant civic life.

Click to enlarge.
How many rooms in Masonic Hall can you identify from the little images in the background?

Open House New York is the second city, following London, of what has become a worldwide movement to engage a broad public in a conversation about architecture, public space, and the future of urban life. Open House London was founded by Victoria Thornton in 1992. Thornton’s motivation was a simple one: open to the public the buildings that Londoners walk past everyday and in doing so foster a greater appreciation of the built environment. The Open House model was transferred to New York City in 2001 by OHNY founder Scott Lauer, a volunteer for Open House London before returning to his native United States. Taking shape in the months and years immediately following September 11, 2001, OHNY became an important platform for celebrating New York at a critical moment in its history. At a time when much of the city was closing itself off through increased security measures, OHNY offered a countervailing force, one that advocated for openness and access as key components of an enlightened and vibrant civic life. There are now more than thirty Open House cities around the world, ranging from Tel Aviv to Barcelona to Melbourne. Each Open House city is run as an independent organization but all adhere to a shared set of values and ideals.
The first Open House New York Weekend was held in 2003 as part of the city’s first Architecture Week. With the help of three hundred volunteers, the first OHNY Weekend included 84 sites in all five boroughs. Since the inaugural year, the event has grown exponentially, increasing its outreach and audience participation; the number of sites, talks and tours; and developing additional thematic and interpretive programming. The 2015 OHNY Weekend had more than 250 participating sites and tours with an estimated 80,000 visitors and more than 1,200 registered volunteers.

In addition to OHNY Weekend, Open House New York organizes year-round programs that extend the conversation that begins during the two days of the Weekend. Programs include the Projects in Planning lecture series, which explores the design process and unique challenges involved with designing and building large-scale projects in the contemporary city; the Field Guide series, in which a variety of architecturally and culturally significant sites in one neighborhood welcome visitors over the course of a Saturday afternoon to explore how different uses of space work in concert to create a sense of place and local identity; and the ongoing Urban Systems Series, year-long thematic programs that explore important issues in New York City’s built environment, from manufacturing, to food, to waste. Open House New York’s year-round programs are a significant platform for fostering discussion about how the city might take shape in the years ahead, and address issues including planning, preservation, infrastructure, and contemporary design.

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