About

Our Mission

Open House New York promotes broad, unparalleled access to the city—to the places, people, projects, systems and ideas that define New York and its future—and fosters civic dialogue about how the city functions and who it serves.

Through year-round programming and the annual OHNY Weekend, which ranks among the largest public design festivals in the nation, Open House New York offers a citywide platform for public education and engagement, guided by a commitment to serving neighborhoods and New Yorkers across the city around issues of planning, design, preservation, and infrastructure.

Open House New York is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

Our History

Open House New York was founded by architect Scott Lauer in 2001 to engage New Yorkers in the city’s architecture, public space, and the future of urban life.

With the help of a dedicated board and volunteers, OHNY became an important platform for celebrating New York at a critical moment in its history. Following the events of September 11, 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.

The inaugural Open House New York Weekend was held in 2003 as part of the city’s first Architecture Week. With the help of 300 volunteers, that event 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. OHNY Weekend now includes more than 275 participating sites and offering 1,300 tours with an estimated 85,000 visitors and more than 1,400 registered volunteers.

Our Values

We believe openness is a New York value.

Open House New York has always stood for openness, accessibility and civic dialogue—the same values that make our democracy work. In 2020, OHNY began the hard work of examining the realities of New York and more purposely advocating for a truly open city—one where streets, libraries, parks and other democratizing places are safe and accessible to all New Yorkers, regardless of skin color, religion, sexuality, or other marker of difference.

Our embrace of an open city is as much about people as it is place. As we continue our work to broaden and deepen an understanding and appreciation of the richness of diversity and experiences that define our city, we are also developing initiatives that prioritize equity and inclusion.

Black Lives Matter Statement (June 2020)
Statement of Solidarity with Asian American Pacific Islander Communities (April 2021)
Statement of Solidarity with the Jewish Community (June 2021)

Our Network

From Athens to Zurich, nearly 50 cities around the world host Open House celebrations.

In 2019, almost 1 million people participated in Open House events with nearly 2 million visits to buildings enabled by more than 18,000 volunteers. Taken together, Open House Worldwide is the largest celebration of the urban landscape in the world. The network was founded and is administered by Open City, a charity registered in the United Kingdom. Learn more about Open House Worldwide.