Meet Rowan Wu, Program Manager

Rowan Wu joined Open House New York as Program Manager in July 2021. As Program Manager, Rowan plays a lead role in conceptualizing and organizing all of OHNY’s programs, including the annual Open House New York Weekend and year-round tours and talks. We’re thrilled to welcome her to our team!

What brought you to Open House New York?
As someone who has centered most of her academic and professional career around urbanism, I’ve always admired Open House New York’s ability to bring people together for experiences and conversations about the built environment, regardless of their knowledge of architecture or design. I’m particularly excited about expanding those conversations to communities that have historically been excluded from planning and architecture spaces. Some of my most rewarding experiences at HR&A Advisors involved designing and executing public programs and engaging with diverse communities and stakeholders, so being able to do that full-time as the Program Manager for Open House New York is a dream come true.

What can the Open House New York audience look forward to in the coming months?
Without spoiling too much, lots! We are about to launch an open call for the Open House New York Weekend program sites, which will be the first time organizations and sites can nominate themselves as Weekend partners. The Weekend itself will feature broader participation from all five boroughs, and we’ll be pushing the boundaries of what we can open up for public access, as well as getting creative with the format of our programs, from virtual and in-person events to podcasts and bike tours. Look out for lots of exciting programs beyond the Weekend too, including a series designed by and for youth and a celebration of the Port Authority’s centennial.

What’s your most memorable Open House New York experience?
Seeing fields of green, skies of blue, and the Manhattan skyline from Brooklyn Grange’s massive rooftop urban farm in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Brooklyn Army Terminal was incredible too! I’m a huge nerd for an industrial waterfront.

If you could open up any site for OHNY Weekend, what would it be and why?
I would love to be able to feature some of the sites and community projects out of the NYC Department of Probation’s Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON) initiative, which include community-based centers, murals and art installations, and urban farms and gardens that serve justice-involved individuals. I’m particularly inspired by the partnerships and programs coming out of the Brownsville Community Justice Center, and interested in exploring how these spaces can physically embody what restorative justice, healing, and alternatives to incarceration can look like.

I’m an Open House New Yorker because …
Open House New York’s values of promoting transparency, access, and civic dialogue deeply resonate with me and my work in and around cities. Being at an OHNY site captures the excitement and wonder of being a kid on a field trip; there is something magical about physically taking up space somewhere you may not normally have the opportunity to be in or visit. As a member of New York’s LGBTQ and AAPI communities, I think that expanding access and ownership to the places that define New York is especially critical for people with marginalized identities, and I am excited to contribute to shaping spaces where all New Yorkers can feel like they belong, regardless of who they are or where they come from.