The death of Iraqi- British architect Zaha Hadid, whose modern futuristic designs include a 39-apartment building under construction along the High Line, has caused reverberations in the architecture world.
By Muna Habib
Hadid, 66, died at a Miami Hospital on March 31 after she had a heart attack while being treated for bronchitis.The architect leaves a legacy that pushed architectural boundaries in terms of design and ingenuity.
Many in the field said she was a visionary who demonstrated that no design challenge is insurmountable.“She learned from modernism and then undid its dogmas, she then changed architecture for the digital age and wasn’t interested in following established canons,” said Amale Andraos, the dean of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, who paid tribute to the revered designer at an Iraqi photography exhibition on Friday. “Her death leaves an indelible mark, her absence a great void.” The dean explained that Hadid’s work crossed historical times as well as geographical contexts influenced by her Iraqi heritage and being educated all over the world. “The speed of her work, the complexity, and smoothness all contributed to the global impact her work had on the world of architecture,” she added.
Hadid was the first woman to win the Pritzker prize, commonly referred to as the Nobel peace prize of architecture. She was also twice awarded Britain’s Stirling Prize for architecture and awarded a dame – the female version of a knight by Queen Elizabeth II in 2012.
Her designs around the world include the shimmering opera house in Guangzhou, China; the ingenious spaceship-designed BMW plant in Leipzig Germany, funicular railway stations in Innsbruck, Austria, and the London Aquatic Centre.
Her final design, a 39-apartment condominium at 520 West 28th Street is still under construction along the High Line, West Chelsea’s elevated park. It is Hadid’s first residential building in New York City. The 11-story building is 135 feet tall and is an example of her visionary style that merges conventional and futuristic design. The contours of the building designed to give it a 3D appearance is paradoxical to the horizontal layout retaining a traditional apartment shape.
Other uncompleted work includes the Qatar 2022 World Cup stadium and a new Iraqi government building in Baghdad.
Her work has influenced different generations of students, many architects noted in comments after her death. “Everyone at some point drew like Zaha or adopted Zaha moves,” said Dean Andraos at Friday’s exhibition. The dean of Columbia’s architecture school remembered how she herself studied Hadid’s bold drawings obsessively as a student.
Even though some students approached on Thursday on Columbia’s campus did not recall who the famous architect was, it didn’t take long to find one who echoed the architecture school’s dean’s point on how inspirational Hadid’s work is for aspiring architects. Bishara J. Tannous, 23, a master’s student at Columbia Graduate School of Architecture remembered how he did a project based on one of her designs. “I designed a dormitory building and tilted it on its side to emulate her style that was radical, free and edgy,” he said.
Hadid was born and raised in Baghdad; she studied mathematics at the University of Beirut before moving to London in 1972 to study at the Architectural Association in London. In her early career, working for revolutionary Dutch architect Rem Koolhass before establishing London-based, ‘Zaha Hadid Architects’ in 1979.
One of the first designers to use computers to take the first digital design to extreme advances, she used her knowledge of mathematics combined with a manipulation of computer technology and her revolutionary vision and ambition to create a distinctive and revolutionary style, explained architect Bernard Tschumi, who first met Hadid as a student in 1972 when both were members of the Association of Architecture.
“Her work is a demonstration of her extraordinary ability to use an original model of her architectural sensibility by the use of computers,” said Tschumi.
Hadid also broke new ground as a female architect. Tschumi recalled when asked about the challenges faced in a profession dominated by men, she responded boldy. “It makes no difference,” he quoted her as saying, “you just have to work harder.”
Source: New America Media
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This article was reprinted in the April 17, 2016 - April 30, 2017 edition.