Zaha Hadid’s singular talent brought her acclaim and influence well beyond the confines of the international architecture profession.
Zaha Hadid was esteemed as one of the most innovative and renowned architects of the modern era, acquiring the sobriquet of the “Queen of the Curve” for the bold arabesques that came to define her iconic, paradigm-changing designs.
The Iraqi-British architect was born on 31 October 1950 in Baghdad to one of the country’s leading families. Both of Hadid’s parents had their roots in Mosul – her father was a successful industrialist and politician hailing while her mother was an artist.
Hadid was educated at boarding schools in both England and Switzerland during the 1960’s, and subsequently pursued mathematical studies at the American University of Beirut.
She moved to London in 1972 to attend the Architectural Association School of Architecture, where her remarkable talent drew immediate attention from established luminaries of the profession such as Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis.
After establishing her own architecture practice in London in 1980, Hadid rapidly gathered plaudits for her bold and innovative architectural designs.
In the early 1980’s she won the design competition for the Peak Leisure Club in Hong Kong, with a vision of levitating angular planes that owed much of their aesthetic DNA to Russian Constructivism.
In 1988 Hadid rose to greater prominence with the inclusion of her architectural designs at the landmark “Deconstructivism in Architecture” exhibition held at the New York Museum of Modern Art.
Despite the critical plaudits earned by her work throughout the eighties and nineties, many of the designs dating from that era were so far ahead of their time that it was impossible to build them by means of existing technologies,
A number of her more striking architectural proposals– such as the Peak Leisure Club, the Cardiff Bay Opera House in Wales, the Tokyo Olympics stadium and the Price Tower extension project in Bartelsville Oklahoma, were shelved or interminably delayed due the technical challenges involved with their construction
The stunning architectural designs of Hadid that were successfully built around the turn of the century, including the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati and the Hotel Puerta America in the Spanish city of Madrid, contributed to her becoming the first woman as well as the first Muslim to win the architecture world’s most prestigious honour in 2004 – the Pritzker Prize.
Following this cementing of her place amongst the pantheon of great architects at the comparatively young age of 53, Hadid found herself positioned to pursue even more ambitious and daring projects.
Some of her more remarkable projects over the past decade have included the BMW Central Building in Leipzig Germany, the Guangzhou Opera house in China, the London 2012 Olympic Aquatics Centre, the Glasgow Riverside Museum of Transport, and the Broad Art Museum in the USA.
Plaudits and acclaim in the global architecture profession swiftly translated into international renown and influence, as well as extensive involvement with other design sectors, with brands and companies seeking to avail themselves of Hadid’s singular design acumen including Adidas, Chanel, Swarovski, Moleskin
International celebrity beyond the confines of the architecture profession made Hadid one of the most prominent examples of the new breed of “starchitects” to emerge around the turn of the century, as well as earned her a string of honours only rarely conferred upon building designers.
Hadid was listed by the Times newspaper as one of the “50 People of the Decade” in 2010, and in 2011 was included on Newsweek Magazine’s list of “150 Women Who Shake the World” as well as a “Top Global Thinker” by Foreign Policy Magazine. In 2012 Queen Elizabeth conferred her with the title of Dame Commander of the order of the British Empire.