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Row over Wear bridge 'sniping'

A prominent architecture critic has hit out at over the “aggressive little campaign” being waged by engineers opposed to the New Wear Crossing’s complex design.

Design Council deputy chairman Paul Finch has hit out at critics of the planned £118M New Wear bridge in Sunderland. Finch said critics should respect the outcome of the design competition that resulted in Spence Architect’s option being chosen.

“Serious competitions with serious winners should not be the subject of professional sniping,” said Finch.

Spence Architect and structures consultant Techniker won a RIBA-run design competition in 2005 with a design featuring two curved cable stay towers.

“The reason architects have become involved in bridges, generally working very happily with structural designers, is that clients and public were fed up with the incredibly uninspiring diet of crossings fed to us for about 40 dismal post-war years,” said Finch.

Earlier this month independent consultant Simon Bourne urged bridge designers to offer “more simple solutions” that use clients’ money more wisely yet are still “naturally elegant”.

Finch also referenced recent design advice issued by International Association of Bridge and Structural Engineers (IABSE) which called for design competitions to be overseen by an experienced engineer (NCE 5 July 2012). It was developed by Arup global leader for bridge design Naeem Hussain.

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