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ET Selects HQ Design from Second Competition



A 3D depiction of the winning design, made by BET Architect Plc in collaboration with Soehene Partners Architects from Austria, to be constructed at an estimated cost of 300 million Br on a 50,000sqm plot at Bole International Airport.

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 2009.

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 place.

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 at AAU.

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, respectively.

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 Alemahew.

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 the announcement.

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 School.

“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 application.”



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