Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid (Saga Hadid) was a British Iraqi architect from Baghdad, Iraq. She was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004 and has many books written about her, collating her completed works and biography.
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 February, 2016, the month preceding her death, she became the first and only woman to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Why was she so renowned?
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", said of the infamous Zaha Hadid buildings.
Her major works include the apartment 520 West 28th, Serpentine Pavilion, Zaha Hadid Fire Station, Zaha Hadid Tokyo Stadium, London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics, Michigan State University's Broad Art Museum in the US, the MAXXI Museum in Rome, the Guangzhou Opera House in China, and the Beijing Daxing International Airport in China. Her net worth is US $215 Million.
Some of her awards have been presented posthumously, including the statuette for the 2017 Brit Awards.
Several of her structures were still under construction at the time of her death, including the Daxing airport and the Al Wakrah Stadium in Qatar, a venue for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Overview of life
Zaha Hadid was born on 31 October 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq, to an upper class Iraqi family.
Hadid studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut before moving, in 1972, to London to study at the Architectural Association School of Architecture.
There she studied with Rem Koolhaas, Elia Zenghelis and Bernard Tschumi. Her former professor, Koolhaas, described her at graduation as "a planet in her own orbit." Zenghelis described her as the most outstanding pupil he ever taught.
'We called her the inventor of the 89 degrees. Nothing was ever at 90 degrees. She had spectacular vision. All the buildings were exploding into tiny little pieces."
He recalled that she was less interested in details, such as staircases. "The way she drew a staircase you would smash your head against the ceiling, and the space was reducing and reducing, and you would end up in the upper corner of the ceiling.
She couldn't care about tiny details. Her mind was on the broader pictures—when it came to the joinery she knew we could fix that later. She was right.
Her fourth-year student project was a painting of a hotel in the form of a bridge, inspired by the works of the Russian suprematist artist Kazimir Malevich.
After graduation in 1977, she went to work for her former professors, Koolhaas and Zenghelis, at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Through her association with Koolhaas, she met the architectural engineer Peter Rice, who gave her support and encouragement during the early stages of her career.
Hadid became a naturalised citizen of the United Kingdom. She opened her own architectural firm, Zaha Hadid Architects, in London in 1980.
During the early 1980s Hadid's style introduced audiences to a new modern architecture style through her extremely detailed and professional sketches. At the time people were focused on postmodernism designs, so her designs were a different approach to architecture that set her apart from other designers.
She then 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 colourful 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.
This, a conference at the Tate in London and some articles written about her began to not only get her name out into the Architecture world, but allowed people to associate a particular style of architecture with Hadid.
Hadid was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2002 Birthday Honours and Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2012 Birthday Honours for services to architecture.
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.
In 2002, Hadid won the international design competition to design Singapore's one-north master plan. In 2004, Hadid became the first female recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize.
In 2005, her design won the competition for the new city casino of Basel, Switzerland and she was elected as a Royal Academician.
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 was ranked 69th on the Forbes list of "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". In 2010, she was named by Time as an influential thinker in the 2010 TIME 100 issue.
In September 2010 the New Statesman listed Zaha Hadid at number 42 in its annual survey of "The World's 50 Most Influential Figures of 2010".
In 2013, she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4. In 2014, 2015 and 2016, Hadid appeared on Debrett's list of the most influential people in the UK.
In January 2015, she was nominated for the Services to Science and Engineering award at the British Muslim Awards.
She won the Stirling Prize, the UK's most prestigious award for architecture, two years running: in 2010, for one of her most celebrated works, the MAXXI in Rome, and in 2011 for the Evelyn Grace Academy, a Z‑shaped school in Brixton, London.
She also designed the Dongdaemun Design Plaza & Park in Seoul, South Korea, which was the centrepiece 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.
In 2015, she became the first woman to receive the Royal Gold Medal awarded by the Royal Institute of British Architects.
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.
Google celebrated her achievements with a Doodle on 31 May 2017, to commemorate the date (in 2004) on which Hadid became the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize.
On 31 March 2016, Hadid died of a heart attack at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, where she was being treated for bronchitis. She was 65 years old.
Zaha Hadid's most notable buildings
Riverside Museum, Glasgow, Scotland (2004–2011)
The Riverside Museum (2004–2011), on the banks of the River Clyde Glasgow, Scotland, houses the Glasgow Museum of Transport.
Hadid described the 10,000-square metre building, with 7,000 square metres of gallery space, as "a wave", "folds in movement", and "a shed in the form of a tunnel, open at the extreme ends, one end toward the city and the other toward the Clyde."
Like many of her buildings, the whole form is only perceived when viewed from above. The facades are covered with zinc plates, and the roofline has a series of peaks and angles.
The interior galleries caused some controversy; visitors who came to see the collection of historic automobiles found that they are mounted on the walls, high overhead, so it is impossible to look into them.
Rowan Moore of The Guardian of London wrote: "Obviously the space is about movement...Outside it is, typologically, a supermarket, being a big thing in a parking lot that is seeking to attract you in...It has enigma and majesty, but not friendliness."
London Olympics Aquatics Centre (2005–2011)
Hadid described her Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London as "inspired by the fluid geometry of water in movement".
The building covers three swimming pools, and seats 17,500 spectators at the two main pools. The roof, made of steel and aluminium and covered with wood on the inside, rests on just three supports; it is in the form of a parabolic arch that dips in the centre, with the two pools at either end.
The seats are placed in bays beside the curving and outward-leaning walls of glass. At £269 million, the complex cost three times the original estimate, owing principally to the complexity of the roof.
This was the subject of much comment when it was constructed, and it was the first 2012 Olympic building begun but the last to be finished.
It was praised by architecture critics. Rowan Moore of The Guardian said that the roof "floats and undulates" and called the centre "the Olympics' most majestic space".
Broad Art Museum, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, US (2007–2012)
The Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan, Hadid's second project in the United States, has a space of 4,274 square metres, dedicated to contemporary art and modern art and an historical collection.
The parallelogram-shaped building leans sharply and seems about to tip over. Hadid wrote that she designed the building so that its sloping pleated stainless steel facades would reflect the surrounding neighbourhood from different angles; the building continually changes colour depending upon the weather, the time of day and the angle of the sun.
As Hadid commented, the building "awakens curiosity without ever truly revealing its contents". Elaine Glusac of The New York Times wrote that the architecture of the new museum "radicalizes the streetscape". The Museum was used in a scene of the 2016 Batman vs. Superman movie.