The authors of the draft Master Plan argue that the old building is in an emergency condition and cannot be re-operated. This is the main reason for dismantling it. Meanwhile, architects counter that the building has been neglected, with no investments for its repair. According to the architects, the structure meets the present standards and actually needs merely cosmetic repair to be able to function further.
On February 8, the Media Center hosted a discussion on ‘The Fate of Zvartnots Airport Old Building: Assessment of the New Draft’. It was attended by Ms Anahit Tarkhanyan, daughter of architect and old airport building’s co-author Artur Tarkhanyan, Mr. Mkrtich Minasyan, Chairman of the Armenian Union of Architects, and Mr. Grigor Azizyan, Director of Armproject Institute and Chairman of the Public Council Urban Development Subcommittee.
"We can now recall the concession contract, where they undertook to return that building after 30 years in improved state as they had to incur expenses and do so regularly; it means that they incurred no expenses," says Mr. Grigor Azizyan, Director of Armproject Institute and Chairman of the Public Council Urban Development Subcommittee.
The speaker assures that thanks to its form, the building has a very high capacity and the issue may be resolved by merely some reinforcement of the ground floor columns.
According to Mr. Mkrtich Minasyan, Chairman of the Armenian Union of Architects, Zvartnots Airport's old building is a world-renowned structure. "We keep seeking some brands for Yerevan; the old Airport building is a ready-made brand renowned all over the world."
Ms Anahit Tarkhanyan, daughter of architect and old airport building’s co-author Artur Tarkhanyan, believes that the primary motive for dismantling the building is the concessionaire’s wish to develop and expend his business.
"Any businessman aims to sell their goods at the highest price possible and if an entrepreneur willing to buy the airport sees another airport next to it, the price will drop. Thus, to sell the airport at the maximum highest price, the businessman must demolish the other one," the speaker says.
According to the Chairman of the Union of Architects, the Armenian architects took practical steps to stop demolition of the old building.
For instance, in 2014, the Union of Architects turned to the Ministry of Culture stating that such a building should be taken under state protection. "However, starting from 2014 we haven’t got a single line on why the building is not included in such a list, why we are losing it and what actions are taken by the Ministry of Culture," he adds.
Ms A. Tarkhanyan, in her turn, said that several months ago, she consulted the airport's architect George Shekhlyan, Mher Cherkezyan and Armenian State Project and they presented 2 options to keep the airport building and make it possible for the airport to function and serve as an up-to-date operating airport.
"The airport built in the 1980s used to have 14 platforms (if I’m not mistaken) one of which is destroyed as of today, and the new one has only 5 or 6 approach areas. Along with destroying the existing building, Ernekian and his specialists offer only 6 plus another 6 or 7 platforms. In other words, by destroying the existing airport, they set up a new one inferior to the existing airport and here, the question is: If we do have the opportunity to use and adapt the existing building to new objectives, why don’t we do so? We both submitted these drafts to Ernekian's representatives and raised the issue before the press outlets. And the most surprising and offensive thing about all this is that nobody has ever contacted us even with a letter or a note. We never say: “come on, take our draft and realize it just exactly as it is!” Instead, we just show you the way, let's keep whatever belongs to us, our national pride and try to start a mutually beneficial cooperation, but we get no answer," Tarkhanyan says.
Mr. Mkrtich Minasyan says that they repeatedly asked Eduardo Ernekian to have his architectural studio experts achieve a consensus with our specialists. "But every time they come and first and foremost put forth this precondition; they would not ever listen to anything else but keep saying that the old building must be demolished by all means," Mr. M. Minasyan says.