Open House is a worldwide family of non-profit organizations dedicated to fostering better appreciation and understanding of architecture.
In 1992 Victoria Thornton founded Open House London with the mission of making London’s buildings accessible to anyone interested in learning about their ‘built environment’. London’s Open House event has been held annually in September ever since. Over 700 building are now open to the public. The Open House concept has been replicated throughout Europe, the Far East and the United States.
A volunteer from Open House London founded Open House New York in 2001. Since then there have been Open House programs started in Dublin, Tel Aviv, Galway, Barcelona, Jerusalem, Melbourne, Chicago, Rome, Helsinki, Lisbon, Perth, Adelaide and Slovenia.
The structure of every Open House is to have one major annual event, usually over a weekend. There are special tours given by architectural professionals and enthusiasts. There are associated events throughout the weekend. In New York’s event last October over 185,000 people participated and there were over 300 sites, programs, events and tours available throughout the five boroughs. A couple of highlights were a hardhat tour of the Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center, and the Louis Kahn designed Four Freedoms Park on Roosevelt Island.
Have I mentioned that all Open House events in every participating city are absolutely free?
ASE Travel tip: If you are going to travel to one of the Open House destinations, but will miss the weekend full of tours you can still use this website as a guide. Click through to the section of Open House for your destination. You can find the buildings they suggest are important and there is a link to architectural tours that are available year-round.