By: Justin Scott
She was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004. She received the UK's most prestigious architectural award, the Stirling Prize, in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, she was made a Dame by Elizabeth II for services to architecture, and in 2015 she became the first and only woman to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects. Her name was Zaha Hadid. She was described by The Guardian of London as the 'Queen of the curve', who "liberated architectural geometry, giving it a whole new expressive identity." Her major works include the aquatic centre for the London 2012 Olympics, Broad Art Museum in the US, and the Guangzhou Opera House in China. Some of her designs have been presented posthumously, including the statuette for the 2017 Brit Awards, and several of her buildings were still under construction at the time of her death, including the Al Wakrah Stadium in Qatar, a venue for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Hadid an Iraqi-British Architect that took her craft to new heights.
Hadid began her career teaching architecture, first at the Architectural Association, then, over the years at Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge University, the University of Chicago, the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Columbia University. She earned her early reputation with her lecturing and colourful and radical early designs and projects, which were widely published in architectural journals but remained largely unbuilt. Her ambitious but unbuilt projects included a plan for Peak in Hong Kong (1983), and a plan for an opera house in Cardiff, Wales, (1994). The Cardiff experience was particularly discouraging; her design was chosen as the best by the competition jury, but the Welsh government refused to pay for it, and the commission was given to a different and less ambitious architect. Her reputation in this period rested largely upon her teaching and the imaginative and colorful paintings she made of her proposed buildings. Her international reputation was greatly enhanced in 1988 when she was chosen to show her drawings and paintings as one of seven architects chosen to participate in the exhibition "Deconstructivism in Architecture" curated by Philip Johnson and Mark Wigley at New York's Museum of Modern Art. From there she began a career that would take her all over the world building the most elaborate and beautifully designed buildings in every city she touched. Including the 1000 Museum building in Downtown Miami.
Entrance 1000 Museum, Miami
Port House, Belgium
Galaxy SOHO, China
STYLE AND CONTRIBUTION TO ARCHITECTURE
The architectural style of Hadid is not easily categorised, and she did not describe herself as a follower of any one style or school. Nonetheless, before she had built a single major building, she was categorised by the Metropolitan Museum of Art as a major figure in architectural Deconstructivism. Her work was also described as an example of parametricism. An article profiling Hadid in the New Yorker magazine was titled "The Abstractionist". When she was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 2004, the jury chairman, Lord Rothschild, commented: "At the same time as her theoretical and academic work, as a practicing architect, Zaha Hadid has been unswerving in her commitment to modernism. Always inventive, she’s moved away from existing typology, from high tech, and has shifted the geometry of buildings." Her work was described in 2016 by The Design Museum as having "the highly expressive, sweeping fluid forms of multiple perspective points and fragmented geometry that evoke the chaos and flux of modern life."Hadid herself, who often used dense architectural jargon, could also describe the essence of her style very simply: "The idea is not to have any 90-degree angles. In the beginning, there was the diagonal. The diagonal comes from the idea of the explosion which "re-forms" the space. This was an important discovery."
DEATH & LEGACY
While in Miami and only days after seeing the progress of her 1000 Museum building, Hadid suffered a massive heart attack while she was being treated for bronchitis. On March 31, 2016 she passed away in a Miami hospital.
The statement issued by her London-based design studio announcing her death read: "Zaha Hadid was widely regarded to be the greatest female architect in the world today". She is buried between her father Mohammed Hadid and brother Foulath Hadid in Brookwood Cemetery in Brookwood, Surrey, England. In her will she left £67m, and bequeathed various amounts to her business partner and family members. Her international design businesses, which accounted for the bulk of her wealth, were left in trust. She was unmarried and had no children.
Zaha Hadid's legacy goes further than being the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize and RIBA Royal Gold Medal. Hadid inspired a new generation of women to push boundaries and not settle to the norms. She made her mark in a field dominated by men, having been born in Iraq in 1950. She overcame many obstacles and in the process we live among her creations that inspire so many to go for it.
Heydar Aliyev Center, Azerbaijan
Jockey Club Innovation Tower, Hong Kong