Born in Iraq and educated in Beirut and the UK, Dame Zaha Hadid, OBE, was known for experimenting with the boundaries and relationships of space and architecture in everything she designed. From deconstructivist urban landscapes to furniture, Hadid always pushed the lines and edges to sometimes gravity-defying limits, gifting us with buildings that enhanced their environments. For more on Zaha Hadid, here are some facts:
1. None of her buildings have ever featured a right angle.
- Hadid loved the diagonal line. One of her former professors, architect Elia Zenghelis, stated that she was “the inventor of 89 degrees. Nothing was ever at 90 degrees.” A good example is the MAXXI museum in Rome.
- She was also known as the “Queen of the Curve” for buildings such as the Heydar Aliyev Center in Azerbaijan with its gently sloping and yet zany curves.
2. She was also known for breaking the glass ceiling for female architects everywhere.
- Hadid is the first female recipient of the Pritzker Prize, the highest award in the architectural industry.
- In 2010, she was in the 69th place of Forbes’ “The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women” list.
3. Hadid did not achieve mainstream success for years after her graduation from the Architectural Association School of Architecture.
- Though she earned her formidable reputation while teaching at top universities such as Harvard and Cambridge, Hadid’s work–regularly published in journals–went unbuilt.
- She began to be known as a “paper architect,” someone whose designs were too radical to ever be built. This was exacerbated by the exhibition of her works as paintings in prominent museums.
4. She suffered at least two disheartening career setbacks.
- The first was when she won a design competition for Hong Kong’s leisure center The Peak in 1983. The design never saw reality.
- In 1994, she won both design competitions for the Cardiff Bay Opera House in Wales, but each time, support was withdrawn. The building of her vision was never realized.
5. The Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati marked a turning point in Hadid’s career.
- The center is the first American museum that was designed by a female architect.
- It also sealed Hadid’s reputation, not only as an architect of built works, but as a “starchitect” as well.
6. Many of her buildings are still in the process of being built even after her death in 2016.
- First to be completed so soon after her death was the Salermo Maritime Terminal in Italy.
- Plans for the Al Wakrah Stadium in Qatar, where the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held, have been found.
Though she was only in business for 20 years, Zaha Hadid’s works have left a huge impact on the architecture world. Her grit and determination in the face of many setbacks makes her an inspiration to many.
To learn more about other inspiring architects, check out their interesting facts here.