Iraqi-born, British architect Dame Zaha Hadid died Thursday, March 31, 2016, in Miami from a sudden heart attack. Hadid had been admitted to the hospital for bronchitis but suffered a heart attack in the midst of treatment.
Hadid, who was 65, is one of the most hailed architects in the world. Starting her career in the mid-70s, she opened her own firm by 1979. However, Hadid did not receive real acclaim until 1983, when her design for a Chinese recreational center referred to as, The Peak was awarded for its daring sense of style.
Hadid is best known for her daring style, more specifically, the act that she is one of the pioneers in deconstructivist architecture, a post-modern style that focuses less on functionality. Instead, the focus is on how to alter the geometric shape of a building to suggest fluidity, mobility, and fragmentation. The label of deconstructivist did not exist until the late 80s when it was popularized by the Museum Of Modern Art (MOMA), which included Hadid’s The Peak in an exhibit.
While most of Hadid’s designs never made it off the paper, her first project to actually be constructed, was the Vitra Fire Station in Weil am Rhein, Germany. Following this she had a number of projects built in both Germany and London. Born in Baghdad and having studied in both Beirut and London, Hadid considered her work and her life non-conventional, “I am non-European, I don’t do conventional work and I am a woman…” The last point of course being pivotal, as Hadid was the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Prize, which for architects is the equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
Hadid has won various awards for her designs, having won the Stirling Prize for architecture, Britain’s most prestigious award for architecture, twice; once in 2010 for the Maxxi Museum in Rome and again in 2011 for the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton. Additionally, she was the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize in 2004, and the first woman to receive the Gold Medal from Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), in February 2016.
On top of all this critical acclaim, Hadid’s work has been commissioned internationally, such as the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, in London; the Hoenheim Nord Terminus, in Strasbourg, France. She is also responsible for the Riverside Museum at Glasgow’s Museum of Transport, the Great Utopia installation at the Guggenheim Museum, in New York and the Guangzhou Opera House in China. However, one of her most famous and personal favorites, the London Aquatics Center, which was used for the Olympics in 2012.
Innovative and visionary, she has often been accredited with paving the way for women architects all over the globe, a claim she addressed during her acceptance speech for the RIBA Gold Medal in February. Hadid spoke candidly about the increase in established female architects and the progress that females are making in the architectural field, over time and how that progress has been hard-won, and must continue.
Hadid’s death is mourned within both the art and architectural communities, but her legacy, as a pioneer, will live on by means of her various works and stylistic advancements. She has made ground-breaking efforts for women today.
By Gabrielle Smith
Edited by Jeanette Smith
Britannica: Biography – Zaha Hadid
e-Architect: Zaha Hadid
BBC: Entertainment Arts
NY Times: Zaha Hadid, Groundbreaking Architect, Dies at 65
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Featured Image Courtesy Sebastian Deptula’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License