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Eskinder and Partners (EP), an engineering firm based in Addis Ababa, has won the architectural design competition for the headquarters of United Bank S.C. The Minister of Urban Development and Construction urged stakeholders in the bank to make the design a reality on the ground within the shortest possible time.  The planned headquarters of the United Bank,  which will be constructed around National Theater is more than 30 stories, and is expected to cost over 800 million birr. The winning firm has been awarded 140 thousand birr for the design it submitted. Designs submitted by Greta Consulting and K2N Engineering and Consulting won second and third places, respectively.
“Completing design work in itself is not an end. The bid is not yet started. I want to urge the shareholders of the bank, its board members and its management to give due emphasis to make the design a reality on the ground,” said Mekuria Haile, Minister of Construction and Urban Development, in a remark he made after declaring the winners of the competition last Monday at the Hilton Hotel.    
In what seems a new development, the competition has attracted many architectural firms and individuals. More than 70 firms and individuals bought the design document floated three months ago and 41 submitted their proposals.
The jury of seven included veterans and young professionals, and seven contestants were short listed as finalists. The jury identified the winner using predetermined criteria, and design variables like space usage, sustainability of the construction technology, form, urban character, symbolic attributes, and compliance with different regulations. 
The realization of the plan is expected to boost the bank,s revenues and image, in addition to creating a well-situated environment for its operations.
“The realization of the plan into reality on the ground will create favorable conditions for ensuring the bank,s back desk operation in one central area. That will save operation cost and time, beyond convenience. It also generates additional income and boosts the positive image of the bank in the public mind,” said Birhanu Getaneh, president of the bank.         
The building will be erected on a 3,838 square meter plot leased from Addis Ababa City Administration in the area commonly known as Senga Tera, in front of Addis Ababa University School of Commerce. Once the detailed design is completed, the building will be completed within four years.
The final design will include technical aspects of the planned building, like electrical, sanitary, structural designs, bill of quantity, will be completed within four months, according to Eskinder Wubetu, a founding partner of the winning engineering firm. Eskinder has been in the engineering and architecture business for the last 17 years.           
“We want to extend our sincere appreciation to the Ethiopian Architecture Association. Without its endeavor, our company wouldn’t be here tonight. The association has struggled tremendously to make design completion in our country a reality by introducing an international architectural design completions by law which lays the foundation for the screening criteria here. This has opened room for competition,” Eskinder told Capital. 
“Such a planned high rise building is public property. It symbolizes the urban setting and life. Ensuring such an urban character needs to be born from competition,” he added.
According to the construction planning requirements of the city administration, the plot allotted to the bank will host a high rise building rising from 21 to 34 stories.
United Bank is one of the most profitable private banks in the country, closing the last financial calendar year with 412 million birr in gross profits.
Eskinder and Partners is an engineering company established seven years ago with 100 thousand birr in seed capital.