Zaha Hadid, 1950-2016

Image courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Image courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects

Celebrated for her opulent curvilinear structures that broadened the possibilities of the built form, Pritzker Prize–winning architect Zaha Hadid died unexpectedly on March 31 in a Miami hospital at the age of 65. Hadid died suddenly of a heart attack while being treated for bronchitis, according to a statement issued by her office.

Architectural critics and journalists reflect on the legacy of Zaha Hadid:

Zaha Hadid: More Than a ‘Female Architect’ by Tegan Bukowski
New York Times

“Long after the novelty of her gender fades from the public’s mind, she will be remembered for the swooping, sumptuous monumentality of her buildings, like the MAXXI art museum in Rome or her opera house in Guangzhou, China.”

Dame Diva Zaha Hadid will build no more by Hamid Dabashi
Al Jazeera

“Sober and savvy; perfectionist and flamboyant; commanding respect and oozing authority: Zaha Hadid was the soul of an Arab poet in the spirit of a European artist.”

Zaha Hadid, Visionary Architect, Dead at 65, by Justin Davidson

“Her buildings seem sculpted by wind, their surfaces buffed by geological forces, their structures in constant negotiation with gravity.”

Death & Architecture by Duo Dickinson
Common Edge

“Winning virtually every award imaginable for an international figure, many as the first woman recipient, her career arc was the fantasy of almost every architect who owns up to the artiste persona.”

From Design to Gender Expectations, Architect Zaha Hadid Never Stopped Trying to Reshape Reality by Jesse Dorris

“Hadid was so far ahead of the curve that it took decades for the world to catch up to her. Her iconic architectural sensibility revved up modernism, sending it racing into the future—a world when no corner goes uncurved, and arches undulate instead of rise, and hallways literally become arrows shooting off the floors below.”

Frank Gehry Remembers Zaha Hadid, Who ‘Found Her Niche and Went With It’
Time Magazine

“She created a language that’s unique to her”: From the beginning, Gehry says “she was one of the guys” in the notoriously male-dominated architecture community. “[That’s] sexist in its own way I suppose. I don’t mean it that way.”

The Social Art of Zaha Hadid, Architecture’s Most Engaging Presence by Paul Goldberger
Vanity Fair

“By dint of hard work, extraordinary talent, gritty determination, and an unforgettable persona, she made herself one of the best-known figures in architecture—one of the few that had currency outside of the architecture world as well as within it.”

A critic’s take on the power of Zaha Hadid by Christopher Hawthorne
Los Angeles Times

“Still, she was a groundbreaking figure for her career path as well as for the singular quality of her buildings, and she changed the power dynamics of a profession that desperately needed to evolve — and that desperately needs to keep doing so.”

Female Architects on the Significance of Zaha Hadid by Randy Kennedy and Robin Pogrebin
New York Times

“…The sense of loss…has been most pronounced among female architects, who saw Hadid as a rare beacon of hope for their own success in a male-dominated field and a barometer of its continuing sexism.”

Architect Zaha Hadid always seemed unstoppable, but she left a mixed legacy by Philip Kennicott
Washington Post

“If it takes decades to assess her legacy, it may take just as long to disentangle her work and the controversies that dogged her career from the sincere admiration many felt for her astonishing success in a male-dominated environment.”

Zaha Hadid, Groundbreaking Architect, Dies at 65 by Michael Kimmelman
New York Times

“She was not just a rock star and a designer of spectacles. She also liberated architectural geometry, giving it a whole new expressive identity. Geometry became, in her hands, a vehicle for unprecedented and eye-popping new spaces but also for emotional ambiguity.”

Zaha Hadid, 1950-2016: an appreciation by Rowan Moore
The Guardian

“It had a clear and acknowledged debt to the paintings and architecture of Russian constructivism but was also very much her own, and it opened up the formal repertoire of building in ways many other architects have been exploiting ever since. Even those who criticise her might sometimes wield an angled or hovering plane that wouldn’t be there if it were not for Hadid.

Zaha Hadid’s Complex Legacy by Alexander Nazaryan

“Hadid’s complex legacy reminds us that genius does not operate in a dustless ether of abstractions. It matters where the buildings are built, as well as who builds them.

Postscript: Zaha Hadid, 1950-2016 by John Seabrook
New Yorker

“I have never known anyone whose reputation provoked more terror yet whose actual presence was more fun…Why did every second article attach “diva” to her name? Isn’t every architect a diva? Truly, it was because Hadid was a woman who had dared to enter a man’s world, and took no shit from anybody, though plenty was offered.”

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