On March 31st, 2016, Zaha Hadid died at the age of 65 from a heart attack. Born in Iraq and a citizen of Great Britain, she is an inspirational example of what can be accomplished when talent and perseverance come together within one truly powerful woman. She will be missed as a great contributor and visionary of modern architecture, as well as a strong and respected leader in a career once believed to be only for men. Her resume is extensive, including countless, breathtaking, and legendary designs found all across the globe.
Zaha Hadid was the first woman and the first Muslim to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, winning it in 2004. She twice won the Ripa Stirling Prize; once in 2010 for the Maxxi Museum in Rome and again in 2011 for the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton. In 2012, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire. In 2015, she received the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) Gold Medal award, which she accepted this past February. With these relatively recent accolades and over 30 years of experience already behind her, there is no doubt that her best work was still to come.
In 1979 she established her own architectural firm, Zaha Hadid Architects, and at the time of her death employed over 400 designers. Some of the most well-known examples of her “neo-futurism” style include the Vitra Fire Station in Weil am Rhine, Germany; the Broad Museum in both Michigan and Los Angeles; the 2012 Olympics Aquatic Center in London; and the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati.
During her speech in February, she spoke to her own experience as a female architect, as well as the struggles that many women in the workplace encounter. She noted that there are many more successful women in her field than when she began but, “That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sometimes the challenges are immense. There has been tremendous change over recent years and we will continue this progress.”
Her imagination and creativity was endless – she truly redefined what modern architecture was capable of becoming, as well as what a woman was capable of accomplishing in the world of design. Senses Cultural applauds and greatly respects the contributions of Zaha Hadid, and knows she will be greatly missed as a powerful contributor and trailblazer of the modern aesthetic.
By Silvana Gargione