Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid
Born Zaha Mohammad Hadid
(1950-10-31)31 October 1950
Baghdad, Iraq
Died 31 March 2016(2016-03-31) (aged 65)
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Nationality Iraqi-British
Alma mater American University of Beirut
Architectural Association School of Architecture
Occupation Architect
Practice Zaha Hadid Architects
Buildings MAXXI, Bridge Pavilion, Maggie's Centre, Contemporary Arts Center
Bergisel Ski Jump, Innsbruck, Austria
BMW Central Building, Leipzig, Germany
Vitra fire station, Weil am Rhein, Germany
Phæno Science Center, Wolfsburg, Germany
The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at 547 East Circle Drive, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan U.S.
Library and Learning Center, Vienna
Stazione marittima, Salerno, 2005–2016

Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, DBE (Arabic: زها حديد Zahā Ḥadīd; 31 October 1950 – 31 March 2016) was an Iraqi-born British architect. She was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004.[1] 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 woman to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.[2]

She was dubbed by The Guardian as the 'Queen of the curve'.[3] She liberated architectural geometry[4] with the creation of highly expressive, sweeping fluid forms of multiple perspective points and fragmented geometry that evoke the chaos and flux of modern life.[5] A pioneer of parametricism, and an icon of neo-futurism, with a formidable personality, her acclaimed work and ground-breaking forms include the aquatic centre for the London 2012 Olympics, the Broad Art Museum in the U.S., and the Guangzhou Opera House in China.[6] At the time of her death in 2016, Zaha Hadid Architects in London was the fastest growing British architectural firm.[7] Many of her designs are to be released posthumously, ranging in variation from the 2017 Brit Awards statuette to a 2022 FIFA World Cup stadium.[8][9]

Early life

Hadid was born on 31 October 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq, to an upper-class Iraqi family.[10] Her father, Muhammad al-Hajj Husayn Hadid, was a wealthy industrialist from Mosul, Iraq. He co-founded the left-liberal al-Ahali group in Iraq in 1932, which was a significant political organisation in the 1930s and 1940s.[10] He was the co-founder of the National Democratic Party in Iraq.[10] Her mother, Wajiha al-Sabunji, was an artist from Mosul.[11] In the 1960s Hadid attended boarding schools in England and Switzerland.[12][13]

Hadid studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut before moving, in 1972, to London to study at the Architectural Association School of Architecture.[11] There she met Rem Koolhaas, Elia Zenghelis and Bernard Tschumi.[10] She worked for her former professors, Koolhaas and Zenghelis, at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, becoming a partner in 1977.[5] Through her association with Koolhaas, she met Peter Rice, the engineer who gave her support and encouragement early on, at a time when her work seemed difficult.[10] Hadid was a naturalised citizen of the United Kingdom.[14][15]


Hadid established her own London-based architecture practice in 1980.[16] Her international reputation was greatly enhanced in 1988 by a showing of impressive architecture drawings as part of the groundbreaking exhibition "Deconstructivism in Architecture" curated by Philip Johnson and Mark Wigley at New York's Museum of Modern Art.[6]


In the mid-1980s, Hadid taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design,[17] where she held the Kenzo Tange Professorship, and at the Architectural Association.[5]

In the 1990s, she held the Sullivan Chair professorship at the University of Illinois at Chicago's School of Architecture. At various times, she served as guest professor at the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg (HFBK Hamburg), the Knowlton School of Architecture at Ohio State University, the Masters Studio at Columbia University, and was the Eero Saarinen Visiting Professor of Architectural Design at the Yale School of Architecture. From 2000, Hadid was a guest professor at the Institute of Architecture at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, in the Zaha Hadid Master Class Vertical-Studio.[18]

Hadid was named an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Architects. She was on the board of trustees of The Architecture Foundation.[19]

Interior architecture and product design

Hadid's fluid interior of the Silken Puerta America in Madrid

Hadid also undertook some high-profile interior work, including the Mind Zone at the Millennium Dome in London as well as creating fluid furniture installations within the Georgian surroundings of Home House private members club in Marylebone, and the Z.CAR hydrogen-powered, three-wheeled automobile. In 2009 she worked with the clothing brand Lacoste, to create a new, high fashion, and advanced boot.[20][21] In the same year, she also collaborated with the brassware manufacturer Triflow Concepts to produce two new designs in her signature parametric architectural style.[22]

In 2007, Hadid designed Dune Formations for David Gill Gallery and the Moon System Sofa for leading Italian furniture manufacturer B&B Italia.[23][24]

In 2013, Hadid designed Liquid Glacial for David Gill Gallery which comprises a series of tables resembling ice-formations made from clear and coloured acrylic. Their design embeds surface complexity and refraction within a powerful fluid dynamic.[25] The collection was further extended in 2015-2016. In 2016 the gallery launched Zaha's final collection of furniture entitled UltraStellar [26]

Architectural work

Her architectural design firm, Zaha Hadid Architects, employs 400 people, and is headquartered in a Victorian former school building in Clerkenwell, London.[27]

Conceptual projects

Completed projects (selection)

Ongoing projects

In 2010, Hadid was commissioned by the Iraqi government to design the new building for the Central Bank of Iraq. An agreement to complete the design stages of the new CBI building was finalized on 2 February 2012, at a ceremony in London.[44] This was her first project in her native Iraq.[45] Other work included Pierres Vives, the new departmental records building (to host three institutions, namely, the archive, the library and the sports department), for French department Hérault, in Montpellier.[46]

Hadid's project was named as the best for the Vilnius Guggenheim Hermitage Museum in 2008. She designed the Innovation Tower for Hong Kong Polytechnic University, scheduled for completion in 2013, and the Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion that was displayed in Hong Kong in 2008.[47][48][49] She completed a new building for Evelyn Grace Academy in London in 2010.[50]

In 2011 the Capital Hill Residence was completed. A villa in the Barvikha Forest outside Moscow, it was designed for Russian property developer Vladislav Doronin and is the only private residence that Hadid designed during her lifetime.[51]

In 2012, Hadid won an international competition to design a new National Olympic Stadium as part of the successful bid by Tokyo to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.[52] As the estimated cost of the construction mounted, however, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced in July 2015 that Hadid's design would be scrapped in favor of a new bidding process to seek a less expensive alternative.[53] Hadid had planned to enter the new competition, but her firm was unable to meet the new requirement of finding a construction company with which to partner.[54]

Non-architectural work

Museum exhibitions

Other work


On 31 March 2016, Hadid died of a heart attack in a Miami hospital, where she was being treated for bronchitis.[60][61]


Dubbed 'Queen of the curve', Hadid has a reputation as the world's top female architect,[3][62][63][64][65] although her reputation is not without criticism. She is considered an architect of unconventional thinking, whose buildings are organic, dynamic and sculptural.[66][67] Stanton and others also compliment her on her unique organic designs: "One of the main characteristics of her work is that however clearly recognizable, it can never be pigeonholed into a stylistic signature. Digital knowledge, technology-driven mutations, shapes inspired by the organic and biological world, as well as geometrical interpretation of the landscape are constant elements of her practice. Yet, the multiplicity and variety of the combination among these facets prevent the risk of self-referential solutions and repetitions."[68] Allison Lee Palmer considers Hadid a leader of Deconstructivism in architecture, writing that, "Almost all of Hadid's buildings appear to melt, bend, and curve into a new architectural language that defies description. Her completed buildings span the globe and include the Jockey Club Innovation Tower on the north side of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hong Kong, completed in 2013, that provides Hong Kong an entry into the world stage of cutting-edge architecture by revealing a design that dissolved traditional architecture, the so called modernist “glass box,” into a shattering of windows and melting of walls to form organic structures with halls and stairways that flow through the building, pooling open into rooms and foyers."[69]

Hadid's architectural language has been described by some as "famously extravagant" with many of her projects sponsored by "dictator states".[70] Rowan Moore described Hadid's Heydar Aliyev Center as "not so different from the colossal cultural palaces long beloved of Soviet and similar regimes". Architect Sean Griffiths characterised Hadid's work as "an empty vessel that sucks in whatever ideology might be in proximity to it".[71] Art historian Maike Aden criticises in particular the foreclosure of Zaha Hadid's architecture of the MAXXI in Rome towards the public and the urban life that undermines even the most impressive program to open the museum.[72]

Qatar controversy

As the architect of a stadium to be used for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Hadid defended her involvement in the project, despite revelations relating to the working conditions imposed on migrant workers in Qatar. She acknowledged that there was a serious problem with the number of migrant workers who have died during construction work related to the World Cup. She said that she believed it was a problem for the Qatari government to resolve:

"I have nothing to do with the workers", said Zaha. "I think that's an issue the government—if there's a problem—should pick up. Hopefully, these things will be resolved." Asked if she was concerned, Zaha added: "Yes, but I'm more concerned about the deaths in Iraq as well, so what do I do about that? I'm not taking it lightly but I think it's for the government to look to take care of. It's not my duty as an architect to look at it. I cannot do anything about it because I have no power to do anything about it. I think it's a problem anywhere in the world. But, as I said, I think there are discrepancies all over the world."[73]

In August 2014, Hadid sued The New York Review of Books for defamation for publishing an article which included this quote and allegedly accused her of "showing no concern" for the deaths of workers in Qatar.[74] Immediately thereafter, the reviewer and author of the piece in which she was accused of showing no concern issued a retraction in which he said " did not begin on the site for the Al Wakrah stadium, until two months after Ms Hadid made those comments; and construction is not scheduled to begin until 2015.... There have been no worker deaths on the Al Wakrah project and Ms Hadid's comments about Qatar that I quoted in the review had nothing to do with the Al Wakrah site or any of her projects. I regret the error."[9]

Awards, nominations and recognition

In 2002, Hadid won the international design competition to design Singapore's one-north master plan. In 2004, Hadid became the first female and first Iraqi recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.[75] In 2005, her design won the competition for the new city casino of Basel, Switzerland.[76] In 2006, she was honoured with a retrospective spanning her entire work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York; that year she also received an Honorary Degree from the American University of Beirut.

In 2008, she ranked 69th on the Forbes list of "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women".[77] In 2010, she was named by Time as an influential thinker in the 2010 TIME 100 issue.[78]

In September 2010, New Statesman listed Zaha Hadid at number 42 in their annual survey of "The World's 50 Most Influential Figures 2010".[79] Hadid was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2002 and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to architecture.[80][81]

She was listed as one of the "50 Best-Dressed over 50" by the Guardian in March 2013.[82] Three years later, she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.[83]

She won the Stirling Prize two years running: in 2010, for one of her most celebrated works, the MAXXI in Rome,[84] and in 2011 for the Evelyn Grace Academy, a Z‑shaped school in Brixton, London.[85] She also designed the Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park in Seoul, South Korea, which was the centerpiece of the festivities for the city's designation as World Design Capital 2010. In 2014, the Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, designed by her, won the Design Museum Design of the Year Award, making her the first woman to win the top prize in that competition.[2]

In January 2015, she was nominated for the Services to Science and Engineering award at the British Muslim Awards.[86]

In 2016 in Antwerp, Belgium a square was named after her, Zaha Hadidplein, in front of the extension of the Antwerp Harbour House designed by Zaha Hadid.

Other awards and honours

See also


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