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October 13, 2010
by Jessica Sheridan Assoc. AIA LEED AP

Since it began in 2003, I eagerly anticipate openhousenewyork (OHNY) every year. This year, the most exciting sites for me were AIANY-related. The 2010 New Practices New York offices opened their doors to tours and the AIANY Emerging New York Architects Committee (ENYA), of which I am the co-chair, gave tours of the Highbridge neighborhood in the Bronx.

OHNY provides not only a chance to gain access to sites that are usually closed to the public, but it is also an opportunity to hear from young professionals about their interests, and experience some of their work in person. On their tour, ENYA discussed the recent HB:BX international design ideas competition. The winning entry, by Philadelphia-based PEG office of landscape + architecture, proposed a water collection system that filters water through Highbridge Park and over the High Bridge to create waterfalls, reminiscent of (or inspired by?) “The New York City Waterfalls,” by Olafur Eliasson in 2008. SoftLab, one of the NPNY winners, showcased hand-crafted models, sewn or compiled of paper and binder clips. I really got a sense of the intimacy the designers have with their work, and I imagined them attaching each piece of paper together one by one.

Although this year I found there to be too many sites that required RSVPs that were filled almost as soon as they were announced, I feel that OHNY weekend is one of the few events that truly aims to make architecture and buildings accessible to the public. Despite long lines at certain sites, architectural enthusiasts from around the world come to NYC for this weekend to soak in all they can learn about its architectural past and future. I hope that this program continues to grow for years to come.

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