THE graceful arches of Stockton's Infinity Bridge have claimed another prestigious national award.
Describing it as "steelwork at its most dramatic", judges at the Structural Steel Design Awards have named the bridge as one of four overall winners for 2010.
Already the winner of numerous awards, the Infinity Bridge claimed its latest accolade at a ceremony in London's Imperial War Museum.
Providing a vital link across the River Tees between Stockton's NorthShore and the Teesdale area of Thornaby, the bridge is designed for pedestrians and cyclists.
Its two slender steel arches of 120 metres and 60 metres flow into one another, with the length of the north span making the Infinity Bridge one of the UK's longest footbridges.
Judges said the bridge is: "An inspirational project which fulfils the brief for a landmark to open up a development area. The elegant structure clearly describes the forces on it, and its simplicity belies the technical complexities.
"This is steelwork at its most dramatic."
The British Constructional Steelwork Association promotes the use of structural steelwork and sponsors the awards with Corus Group plc to celebrate the excellence of the UK in steel construction and innovation.
The other national winners were the wave-shaped roof of the 2012 London Olympics aquatics centre, Terminal 2 at Dublin Airport and a complex for car manufacturer Audi in London.
The bridge was built by Stockton Council and Tees Valley Unlimited with support from regional development agency One North East, the Homes and Communities Agency and local firm Balfour Beatty.
Councillor Bob Cook, Stockton Council's Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Transport, said: "The Infinity Bridge has quickly become a well-loved local landmark for Stockton-on-Tees and the whole of the Tees Valley.
"Its success in winning so many awards is not a surprise. It is a brilliant, graceful design which demonstrates amazing skill and workmanship in its design and construction and it will help open up the NorthShore area for regeneration."
Richard Buckley, Director of Delivery at Tees Valley Unlimited, said: "Infinity Bridge has been designed to the very highest standard which is backed up with yet another prestigious award win.
"From the outset we were determined to give Stockton a visually stunning landmark, something which reflects the ambitions of the partners tasked with regenerating it. Infinity Bridge is and does exactly that."
To win the award, the bridge had to relate to its environment and demonstrate excellence of architectural detail, economy and innovation in design and the advantages of steel construction.
Sections of the arch were fabricated in nearby Darlington, then welded together on the river bank before lifting into place by the UK's largest mobile crane.
Infinity Bridge has also won the Institution of Structural Engineers Supreme Award, the Institution of Civil Engineers Robert Stephenson Award and the Constructing Excellence North East 'Project of the Year'. It is also shortlisted for the Royal Institute of British Architects Awards later this year.
Working on behalf of Stockton-On-Tees Borough Council, the structural engineer was Expedition Engineering, steelwork contractor was Cleveland Bridge UK Ltd and the main contractor was Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering.