There's been lots of lively media coverage, both traditional and social, surrounding “Wings of Freedom,” the architectural element in the planned Veterans Park at Navy Pier, proposed by the USS Midway Museum.
Supporters call it a potential iconic landmark for San Diego on par with the Eiffel Tower or St. Louis' Gateway Arch. Detractors call it corny and obnoxious.
“I think the problem [with “Wings of Freedom”] is that we're not thinking big enough,” one commenter said at a Dec. 6 public meeting to collect input on the park and the structure. “With icons, there's interaction; you don't just look at them. You get up into the Eiffel Tower, you get up into the Statue of Liberty, you get up into St. Louis' arch, and you see [the icons] from 20 miles away. You should be able to see [the Wings] thing from Clairemont.”
While a few in the crowd said they liked “Wings of Freedom,” others said they'd rather see the park move forward without the element, either because they didn't like the design or it appeared to block views of the bay. Some military veterans in the crowd expressed concern that the sculpture, which would stand 500 feet high and resemble a sailboat or wings, didn't make a connection to the military and wasn't right for Veterans Park.
Others worried that by calling the element an “architectural structure” rather than a sculpture, the museum was attempting to bypass the Port of San Diego's public-art process.
Greg Mueller, CEO of Tucker Sadler Architects, the firm that used a design by artist Malcolm Leland as a basis for “Wings of Freedom,” noted that it's not the only artistic element proposed for the new park.
“One of the things we have assured is that 1 percent of construction cost for this park and iconic element will be set aside to go through the arts selection process the Port currently has,” Mueller said. “And so artists will have a chance to work with the Midway to come up with new sculptures or pieces of art that will be placed in the park. So, there is an opportunity for more people to get involved beyond the park and the icon.”
Scott McGaugh, spokesperson for the Midway, said the museum will look over comments collected at three public meetings and decide by the end of the month whether “Wings of Freedom” will be included in the plan pitched to the Port of San Diego on Jan. 10.
“We're going to continue to collect public comments through the website and make that decision after we review it all,” he said. “We'll see what makes sense and tweak accordingly.”