I Am Hadid
In memory of the ‘architect diva’ who passed away in March, we take a look at the life and work of an endlessly creative force. By Ria Iskandar
In March this year, the world was shocked to hear the news of the sudden passing away of the “architect diva” Dame Zaha Hadid, who suffered a fatal heart attack. This Iraqi-british architect was a legend in the architecture and design industries, with her name becoming synonymous with striking structures. Indeed, her work was so successful and visually astounding that she had become just as well known outside the architectural world.
As much as her achievements in the sphere of designs and structures, the diva also succeeded—indeed, excelled—in what is traditionally a man’s world. “Women are always told, ‘You’re not going to make it, it’s too difficult, you can’t do that, don’t enter this competition, you’ll never win it.’ They need confidence in themselves and people around them to help them to get on,” she once said, addressing the inequalities she saw in her own profession as well as the plight of many women with their hearts set on a professional career. In fact, Hadid broke many boundaries: she was the first woman and the first Muslim to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004.
Born in 1950, Hadid studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut before moving to London in 1972 and turning her attention to architecture at the the Architectural Association School, from which she graduated with the Diploma Prize in 1977. Her first notable collaboration was with iconic architects Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis, with whom she became a partner at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) also in 1977. Her work with OMA saw the first of a string of award successes, with their partnership in designing the new Dutch parliament building earning a top prize at the Architectural Design Competition in 1978.
Hadid then carved out a phenomenal career, establishing her own practice in