Ethiopian Airlines has selected a winning design for
its new headquarters in its second competition, on
February 16, 2011, while the company that had been
awarded second place in the first round threatened
legal action for being overlooked.
ET was displeased with the design submissions
entered for its first competition, in September
Ultimate Plan Plc, Sileshi Consult Plc, Mulugeta
Asfaw Consult, and Gereta Consult took the second to
fifth positions in the first round of the
competition in which Brehanu Mussa Architecture &
Engineering also participated but was not awarded a
They were selected by a five-member jury comprising
Asnake Adamu (PhD), a civil engineer and lecturer at
Addis Abeba University (AAU), as well as Yonas
Alemayehu, Solomon Kassa, Zegeye Cherinet, and
Eskinder Wubetu who are all architects and lecturers
The jury members were selected by ET based on the
recommendation of the Association of Ethiopian
Architects (AEA), but the first competition was
conducted without the association’s endorsement.
Although the airline did not award first place to
any design, the second place winner received prize
money of 180,000 Br, while the third and the forth
places received 130,000 Br and 80,000 Br,
Due to the airline’s dissatisfaction with the
presented designs, it declined to award a winner and
announced another competition.
However, Ultimate Plan should have been named the
winner of the first competition, according to
Begziabhar Alebel, major shareholder of the company,
which was awarded fourth place in the second round.
“It was cancelled by the airline and not the jury,
which has the final say,” he told Fortune. “We will
exhaust every avenue available to us to have our
rights respected. We may even seek justice from a
court if we cannot get it through negotiations.”
The airline has denied being approached by any
competitor contesting the decision.
The AEA was invited to facilitate the second
competition in which 15 consulting companies
competed and again proposed jury members.
The airline has allotted up to one million Birr to
be used as prize money, payment for jury members,
and other processes related to the competition,
according to sources privy to the information.
Solomon, Zegeye, and Asnake from the previous jury
as well as Biruk Teffera, an architect and secretary
of the AEA, and Elias Yitbarek (PhD), president of
the AEA, acted as jury members for the second
competition and selected BET Architects Plc, which
was established in March 2003 with a capital of
120,000 Br by Tesfamariam Teshome and Daniel
The jury members and the winners are lecturers at
the same institution, indicating that BET
Architects, which has been involved in both
government and private contracts, is building more
that 40 condominium housing projects and a new
university, was favoured in relation to professional
connections, some of the participants claimed after
However, this claim has been refuted by the jury
members and Ethiopian Airlines.
“The selection was made based on the terms of
reference and based on international architectural
standards which were objective and transparent,”
Biruk told Fortune. “The designs were submitted
under codes and ET gave them new codes before the
proposals reached the jury, making participants
anonymous. The names of the participants were only
known to a separate team at the airline.”
“The airline was specific in its demands about the
organisation structure, flexibility of use and
expansion, as well as forward looking plans,” Biruk
said further. “BET Architects Plc happened to fulfil
all these requirements.”
This assertion was echoed by the airline.
“The selection process was free from bias and
transparent,” sources at the airline told Fortune.
The company has yet to sign an agreement with ET to
implement the design project, according to
Tesfamariam, manager and general partner of BET
Architects, which is engaged in the expansion
projects for BET Zata Hospital and Ethio Parents
“BET collaborated with Soehene Partners Architects,
an Austrian company, in making the design,”
Tesfamariam told Fortune.
The total built-up space of the four-storey building
will rest on a 15,000sqm floor area located on its
present compound at Bole International Airport. It
is planned to contain finance and administration
departments, a planning unit, archives, a conference
hall, and underground parking. The overall project
is estimated to cost 300 million Br.
“Soehene will also participate in the implementation
process, especially in the transfer of technology,”
Tesfamariam told Fortune. “The implementation
process might require up to eight months of
intensive architectural assessment on each