Calvin Klein has picked architect and engineer Santiago Calatrava’s Bridge of Strings as the winner of the T+L Design Award for 2009 for Best Bridge.

The couturier, part of a six-person jury from the New York-based Travel + Leisure magazine, awarded 16 prizes for last year’s best in design and architecture.

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The magazine, published by American Express, hailed the bridge: “Another bridge from Santiago Calatrava? Yes, but this one is noteworthy both as a symbol and as a technological feat. The light-rail bridge curves dramatically toward the Eastern Gate of the old city of Jerusalem, supported by a single 387-foot pylon and a parabolic arrangement of cables. Lit up at night, the landmark structure brings the optimism of 21st-century engineering to this ancient land.”

The honor of Jerusalem being ranked with some of the world’s cutting edge civil engineering and architecture projects made little impression on a sampling of locals.

English teacher Sara Esther Varnai called the bridge “a flight of fancy. Does the [T+ L] award mean anything? Does the city get anything out of it?” she wondered. “I’m really looking forward to all the construction being over with. It’s been a real hassle getting around town. The buses are a nightmare, and walking is very difficult.” Filmmaker Avinoam Marcus was also ambivalent. “The cables are really awesome. But the column gives me the impression of an obelisk – like those you find in Washington, Paris or Cairo. Are we going back to Egypt?”

Ian Norton, who runs an export business located downtown, was less negative about the controversial light-rail bridge. “I don’t mind it. As long as it’s over there,” he said of the location just west of the Central Bus Station.
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