Mission & History

Open House New York provides broad audiences with unparalleled access to the extraordinary architecture of New York and to the people who help design, build, and preserve the city. Through its year-round programs and the annual OHNY Weekend, Open House New York celebrates the best examples of design and planning throughout the five boroughs, from historic to contemporary, and helps foster a more informed conversation about how architecture and urban design sustain New York as a vibrant place to live, work, and learn. Open House New York is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.


Open House New York was founded by Scott Lauer in August, 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 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, 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. The 2016 OHNY Weekend had more than 275 participating sites and tours with an estimated 85,000 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.


Open House America® and Open House Worldwide
Open House New York is the second city, following London, of what has become a worldwide movement. There are forty Open House cities around the United States and around the world, ranging from Chicago and San Diego to Tel Aviv, Barcelona, and Melbourne.  Each Open House city is run as an independent organization but all adhere to a shared set of values and ideals.

Open House America® is an initiative by Open House New York to engage a broad public in learning more about architecture, design, and cities through tours and talks. Open House America provides a national forum for Americans to critically consider the architecture and design in the communities where they live, work, and play. By expanding a design education network to cities around the United States, Open House America helps individuals understand how the built environment affects and is affected by society.

Open House New York is a member of Open House Worldwide, a global network of Open House events. Official members include Open House LondonOpen House ChicagoOpen House RomeOpen House Tel AvivOpen House Dublin,  Open House MelbourneOpen House BarcelonaOpen House SloveniaOpen House HelsinkiOpen House LisbonOpen House ViennaOpen House Buenos AiresOpen House San Diego, Open House Oslo, Open House Jerusalem, Open House Perth, Open House Thessaloniki, Open House Limerick, Open House Gdynia, Open House Athens, Open House Monterrey, Open House Cork, Open House Vilnius, Open House Prague, Open House Madrid, Open House Belfast, Open House Porto, Open House Prague, Open House Lagos, Open House Milan, Open House Zurich, Open House Stockholm, Open House Santiago, Open House Torino, Open House Bilao.


Other related events and cities include:

Denver, Colorado, Doors Open Denver
Lowell, Massachusetts, Doors Open Lowell
Niagara, Ontario, Canada / USA, Doors Open Niagara
Ontario, Canada, Doors Open Ontario
Scotland, Doors Open Days
Swansea, Wales, Swansea Open House
Toronto, Canada, Doors Open Toronto
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Doors Open Milwaukee
European Union, European Heritage Days