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'Open House' Weekend Opens Doors to Midtown's Unique Spaces

By Jill Colvin | October 13, 2011 7:32am
505 Fifth Avenue's entrance lobby will be open Saturday, October 15 from 8:00 a.m.  4:00 p.m.
505 Fifth Avenue's entrance lobby will be open Saturday, October 15 from 8:00 a.m. 4:00 p.m.
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Open House New York

MIDTOWN — Some of Midtown's most unique spaces will be opening their doors to the public this weekend to celebrate Open House New York.

The event, which is now in its ninth year, provides access to venues across the city that are often closed to the public, giving New Yorkers a rare glimpse into hidden architectural gems.

While some of the tours are already sold out — including a behind-the-scenes look at the future of Moynihan Station in the historic Farley Post Office Building and a walk through Grand Central Terminal — many others are still accepting reservations for Saturday and Sunday tours.

Among the offerings this year are a host of high-end and unique hotels that are definitely worth exploring, including the Cassa Hotel and Residences at West 45th Street and Sixth Avenue.

The mixed-use hotel and residence, designed by TEN Arquitectos and completed in 2010, offers awesome views of the Chrysler Building, with sightlines down to the Statue of Liberty, according to organizers, who are offering tours every half hour from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Other hotels also offering tours include the trendy Ace Hotel and the New York Marriott Marquis.

If you're more in the mood for good old fashioned family fun, head over to the Horticultural Society of New York at 148 W. 37th St. from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. for pumpkin carving as well as a tea-making workshop, where visitors can create their own organic herbal blends from seasonal plants and flowers.

At noon, the society will also be offering a home-brewed beer sampling, and at 3 p.m. they’ll host a curated tour of their 14th Annual International Juried Botanical Art Exhibition, a rarity, they said.

Another interesting tour being offered takes participants inside the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA) Fashion Incubator in the Garment District at West 38th Street and Seventh Avenue. The space, which provides low-cost studio space for emerging fashion designers, has already housed designers including Prabal Gurung, Alice Ritter and House of Waris.

Architects from Kliment Halsband Architects will be giving hourly talks about the space, which features twelve glass-fronted studios that open onto a central boulevard that can be used for fashion shows and events, organizers said. Tours are being offered every hour on the hour Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

The iconic, landmarked Chrysler Building, one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in the world, will also be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Come marvel at the ceiling, which features Edward Trumbull’s famous mural, “Transport and Human Endeavor.”

For an intellectual experience, the New York Public Library’s landmarked Stephen A. Schwarzman Building near Bryant Park will be offering guided tours showing off spaces including the South Court Education Center, the Rose Main Reading Room, the Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division and the newly renovated Edna Barnes Salomon Room throughout the day Saturday.

For those who just want to pop in for a look, the building will be open Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Other sites that will also be open include the futuristic lobby of 505 Fifth Avenue, designed to look like “a three-dimensional light sculpture," which will be open Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and a tour of Dattner Architects’ newly opened studio, which will be open for snooping Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“From a wealth of new architectural gems, we have selected many exciting projects that have been designed by both new and established architects,” OHNY board chair  Margaret Sullivan, said in a statement.

“We are thrilled to introduce OHNY visitors to these spaces and to the architects who are on-site to talk about their work," she said.

A full list of Open House New York events is available on the OHNY website. Tickets can be reserved online for $5 each.