In 2003, Open House New York, a grassroots nonprofit organization focused on design and architecture in New York City, initiated what became a widely acclaimed tradition: a weekend of open houses at historic homes. During the inaugural weekend, 84 sites across all five boroughs—the majority of which were typically off-limits to the public—opened their doors to 45,000 guests, and it’s only grown in the decade since. Each consecutive weekend has been bigger and better. Augmenting its outreach, the cultural celebration has enjoyed an increase in programming and audience involvement each year. Though the event has continued to span every borough, the curious need not leave Manhattan. From the island’s oldest house to its smallest museum, the 2013 OHNY Weekend will offer a visual feast of architectural gems and oddities.
The 75-year-old Ford Foundation (above), a private global organization dedicated to advancing human welfare, is headquartered in Midtown East. Constructed in 1968, the foundation’s current building stands out with its breathtaking industrial-meets-utopian design. Exposed granite and COR-TEN steel juxtapose a 12-story atrium that overlooks a terraced garden, creating a verdant haven amid the hustle and bustle of the city.
Oct. 12, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Midtown, 320 E. 43rd St.
Built in 1765, the Morris-Jumel Mansion holds the title of oldest house in Manhattan. In the fall of 1776, the building functioned as General George Washington’s headquarters. From its colonial-, Federal-, and Empire-style rooms to its Palladian-style balcony and portico, the mansion—which also features an extensive assortment of ornamental arts objects—is a standing testament to American history.
Oct. 12, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Oct. 13, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; tours at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.
Washington Heights, 65 Jumel Terrace
Although a loft in name, Morton Loft looks more like the set of a sci-fi movie than something you’d find on the pages of Architectural Digest. Since the loft—a utilitarian structure built in 1980 and renovated two decades later—was originally the fourth floor of a parking garage, open space abounds. Private areas are created via a repurposed petroleum tank that houses sleeping pods and bathrooms. An in-wall desk-and-drawer unit completes the stark zombie-apocalypse-meets-Ikea look.
Oct. 12 and 13, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
West Village, 130 Barrow St. #415
New York University: Institute for the Study of the Ancient World
New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (below)—a research and graduate education center that specializes in interdisciplinary approaches to studying ancient civilizations—is worth exploring, inside and out. Based in a historic townhouse that was built in 1899 and renovated in 2005, the Institute’s neo-Italian Renaissance façade commands attention. Venture inside, and marvel at captivating design elements such as a spiraling marble-and-wood staircase and a library space made of steel and glass.
Oct. 12, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; tours on the hour, reservation required
Upper East Side, 15 E. 84th St.