Among the five designers shortlisted in the RIBA-organised A66 Gateway contest is AJ/Corus 40 Under 40 starlet Ian McChesney.
He is joined by Paris-based Arkenspaces, North East environmental consultant Anthony Walker and Partners, the Halsall Lloyd Partnerships and London fledgling Newbetter.
The teams were initially asked to come up with innovative proposals to revamp the public realm around the town's Cargo Fleet transport interchange. However, if the winning scheme is successful it is believed Middlesbrough Council could roll out the 'prototype treatment' throughout the 'A66 roadscape'.
Rosi Lister, director of Tees Valley Arts, the organisation project-managing the scheme, said: 'The shortlisting panel was pleased by the response to the competition, which elicited 28 expressions of interest from across the world, and five companies have been shortlisted by a panel including representatives from Middlesbrough Council, Tees Valley Regeneration, Halcrow, RIBA and the project managers Tees Valley Arts.'
Each of these five finalists has been handed a £3,000 honorarium to help them develop a full design to be presented before the judges in mid-March.