Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid (or Zaha Hadid) was an Iraqi-British architect. In 2004 she became the first woman recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize and received the Stirling Prize in 2010 and 2011. Her buildings are distinctively neofuturistic, characterised by the “powerful, curving forms of her elongated structures”with “multiple perspective points and fragmented geometry to evoke the chaos of modern life”. She was also a professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna in Austria.

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Biography: the woman before the myth

Zaha Hadid was born on 31 October 1950 in Baghdad. She grew up in one of Baghdad’s first Bauhaus-inspired buildings during an era in which “modernism connoted glamour and progressive thinking” in the Middle East.

She studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut before moving to study at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London, where she met Rem Koolhaas, Elia Zenghelis, and Bernard Tschumi. She worked for her former professors, Koolhaas and Zenghelis, at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands; she became a partner in 1977. 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. In 1980, she established her own London-based practice. During the 1980s, she also taught at the Architectural Association.

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Background & Realizations

Besides stunning achievements in architecture, Zaha Hadid has undertaken some high-profile interior design 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. In the same year, she also collaborated with the brassware manufacturer Triflow Concepts to produce two new designs in her signature parametric architectural style.

In 2007, Zaha Hadid designed the Moon System Sofa for leading Italian furniture manufacturer B&B Italia and in 2013 designed Liquid Glacial, 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.

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Completed projects (selection)

  • VitraFire Station (1994), Weil am Rhein, Germany
  • Bergisel Ski Jump(2002), Innsbruck, Austria
  • Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art(2003), Cincinnati, Ohio, US
  • Hotel Puerta America (2003–2005), Madrid, Spain
  • BMW Central Building(2005), Leipzig, Germany
  • Ordrupgaardannexe (2005), Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Phaeno Science Center(2005), Wolfsburg, Germany
  • Maggie’s Centresat the Victoria Hospital (2006), Kirkcaldy, Scotland
  • Hungerburgbahnnew stations (2007), Innsbruck, Austria
  • ChanelMobile Art Pavilion (2006–08), worldwide
  • Bridge Pavilion(2008), Zaragoza, Spain
  • Pierresvives(2002–12), Montpellier, France, project architect: Stephane Hof
  • MAXXI – National Museum of the 21st Century Arts(1998–2010), Rome, Italy.[6] Stirling Prize 2010 winner.
  • Guangzhou Opera House(2010), Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China
  • Sheikh Zayed Bridge(2007–10), Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  • Galaxy SOHO in Beijing, China.
  • London Aquatics Centre(2011), 2012 Summer Olympics, London, United Kingdom
  • Riverside Museum(2007–11) development of Glasgow Transport Museum, Scotland
  • CMA CGM Tower(2004–11), Marseilles, France
  • Evelyn Grace Academy(2006–10) in Brixton, London, UK. Stirling Prize 2011 winner.
  • Roca London Gallery (2009–11) in Chelsea Harbour, London, UK
  • d’Leedon, Singapore(2011)
  • Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre(2007–12) in Baku, Azerbaijan.
  • Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum(2010–12), East Lansing, Michigan, USA
  • Mandarin OrientalDellis Cay, Villa D (2012) (private home under construction), Dellis Cay, Turks & Caicos Islands
  • Library and Learning Center of the Vienna University of Economics and BusinessCampus
  • Salerno Maritime Terminal (2007–13), Salerno, Italy
  • Napoli Afragola railway station, Italy (2013)
  • Jockey Club Innovation Tower(2013), Hong Kong
  • Dongdaemun Design Plaza(2008–14), Seoul, South Korea
  • Citylifeoffice tower (Storto) and residentials, Milan, Italy (2014)
  • Investcorp Building, St Antony’s College, Oxford(2013–15), UK

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The Most Iconic Projects

In 2010, Zaha 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. This was her first project in her native Iraq. Other works include 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.

Zaha 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. She completed a new building for Evelyn Grace Academy in London in 2010.

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Talent is a heritage

Zaha Hadid has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, where she was the Kenzo Tange Professorship and the Sullivan Chair at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture. She also 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 the Eero Saarinen Visiting Professor of Architectural Design at the Yale School of Architecture. From 2000 on, Hadid had been a guest professor at The University of Applied Arts – Vienna, in the Zaha Hadid Master Class Vertical-Studio.

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 had been on the board of trustees of The Architecture Foundation and a professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna in Austria.

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Hadid’s architectural language has been described as “famously extravagant” with many of her projects sponsored by “dictator states”. 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”. 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.

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Awards and international recognition

In 2002, she won the international design competition to design Singapore’s one-north master plan. In 2005, her design won the competition for the new city casino of Basel, Switzerland.

In 2004, Zaha became the first female and first Muslim recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, architecture’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize. 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”. In 2010, she was named by Time as an influential thinker in the 2010 TIME 100 issue. In September 2010, the British magazine New Statesman listed Zaha Hadid at number 42 in their annual survey of “The World’s 50 Most Influential Figures 2010”. 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. She was listed as one of the fifty best-dressed over 50s by the Guardian in March 2013. 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.

She won the Stirling Prize 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‑shapes school in Brixton, London. She is also the designer of 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. The complex was completed in March 2014.

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Other awards and honours

  • 1982: Gold Medal Architectural Design, British Architecture for 59 Eaton Place, London
  • 1994:Erich Schelling Architecture Award
  • 2001: Equerre d’argent Prize, special mention
  • 2002:Austrian State Prize for Architecture for Bergiselschanze
  • 2003:European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture for the Strasbourg tramway terminus and car park at Hoenheim in Strasbourg, France
  • 2003: Commander of the Civil Division of theOrder of the British Empire (CBE) For services to Architecture
  • 2004:Pritzker Prize
  • 2005:Austrian Decoration for Science and Art
  • 2005: German Architecture Prize for the central building of the BMW plant inLeipzig
  • 2005: Designer of the Year Award forDesign Miami
  • 2005: RIBA European Awardfor BMW Central Building
  • 2006: RIBA European Awardfor Phaeno Science Centre
  • 2007:Thomas Jefferson Medal in Architecture
  • 2008: RIBA European Awardfor Nordpark Cable Railway
  • 2009:Praemium Imperiale
  • 2010: RIBA European Awardfor MAXXI
  • 2012:Jane Drew Prize for her “outstanding contribution to the status of women in architecture”
  • 2012: Jury member for the awarding of the Pritzker Prize toWang Shu in Los Angeles, CA.
  • 2013: 41st Winner of the Veuve Clicquot UK Business Woman Award
  • 2013: Elected international member,American Philosophical Society
  • She was also on the editorial board of the Encyclopædia Britannica.

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