ROCKAWAY BEACH — The American Institute of Architects has canceled a controversial tour of rusting Rockaways lifeguard shacks on the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, after a local politician called the idea “despicable.”
“AIANY holds the modular structures in high regard, but in deference to the request from Assemblymember [Phillip] Goldfeder, we canceled the tour scheduled for Oct. 29,” said Rick Bell, the organization's executive director.
Goldfeder, who represents the Rockaway peninsula and lives in Far Rockaway, spoke out against the tour, which was originally reported by DNAinfo New York.
"It's disgusting,” Goldfeder said last week, a day after the tour was announced. “It's just another slap in the face to a community that has struggled to recover."
The tour, which AIA representatives said they had scheduled on the Sandy anniversary as a way of showing the area's resilience, was part of a monthlong Archtober event that celebrates architecture around the city. The pricey shacks, which began rusting and leaking just weeks after being installed, were included on the list along with iconic structures like the Statue of Liberty.
Architect James Garrison and Kevin Quinn, the director of architecture for the Parks Department, were scheduled to give the tour of the units, which the AIA described as "smart and forward-thinking."
According to luxury retailer Gilt City, which was selling two passes for the hourlong tour for $11, the tour would provide an "in-depth look at both the contemporary and iconic buildings of the city."
"You'll gain insight into some of the most beloved buildings in town," the site added.
The lifeguard shacks, though, may have been the only ones on the list still under construction.
In August, DNAinfo New York reported on the deteriorating condition of some of the 35 bathrooms and lifeguard stations, which were installed along city beaches after Hurricane Sandy at a cost of $105 million.
Railings on some of the structures were held together with duct tape, and lifeguards who used the units reported leaks. The temporary doors on both the bathrooms and lifeguard stations were rusting, and the exterior of the shacks also showed rust.
A lifeguard who asked not to be identified and who spent some of the summer working out of one of the shacks said looking at the unfinished structures made her “cringe.”
Those who purchased tickets for the tours will receive a refund, an AIA representative said.