Hadid, Dame Zaha

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Hadid, Dame Zaha

Dame Zaha Hadid, 1950–2016, British architect, b. Baghdad, studied American Univ., Beirut (1968–71), Architectural Association School, London (grad. 1977). A partner in Rem Koolhaas's Office for Metropolitan Architecture (1977–79), she established her own London practice in 1979. A provocative theorist, influenced by abstract painting (particularly the work of Malevich and Kandinsky), Hadid created innovative, influential, and often controversial designs that stretched the boundaries of architecture with their soaring spatial audacity, dynamic forms, horizontal elongations, and radical adaptations to landscape or urban setting. Her buildings are frequently characterized by smooth surfaces in glass, steel, and concrete; complex, skewed planes and sensuously flowing arabesque forms; sculptural, column-free interior spaces; curving floors and hallways; and asymmetric facades.

Though Hadid won many awards and became extremely influential with young architects, few of her larger 20th-century projects, e.g., Peak Club, Hong Kong (1983) and Cardiff Bay Opera House, Wales (1995), were built, and exist only as beautiful, meticulously made drawings and paintings. Most of her projects that actually were built were quite small, e.g., Monsoon Restaurant, Sapporo, Japan (1990), and Vitra Firehouse, Weil am Rhein, Germany (1993). Hadid finally achieved international acclaim for her first American project, Cincinnati's Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art (2003); it was the first major U.S. museum designed by a woman. Her subsequent commissions included the Phaeno Science Center, Wolfsburg, Germany (2005), the BMW Plant Central Building, Leipzig (2005), and the National Museum of the XXI Century Arts, or MAXXI, Rome (2009), notable for its fluid, cantilevered forms.

Among her later projects are the Opera House, Guangzhou, China (2011), with its flowing forms and double halls; the Riverside Museum, Glasgow (2011), with twin glass facades topped by roofs of pointed, zigzagging zinc; the Aquatics Center, London (2012), with a wavelike roof; the Broad Art Museum (2012) at Michigan State Univ., with its jutting, canted facade of pleated glass and stainless steel and its irregularly shaped galleries; the Heydar Aliyev Center (2012), Bakı, Azerbaijan, with its swooping curved roof, in which every roof and ceiling panel is different; and the Messner Corones Museum of mountaineering (2015), a tripartite structure of concrete and glass featuring a cantilevered viewing platform, on Mount Kronplatz, Austria. She also designed furniture, jewelry, pottery, and other consumer goods. At the time of her death, Hadid and her firm were working on some 50 buildings, whose posthumous completion will roughly double the structures built while she was alive. The first, Port House (2016), Antwerp, is an office building composed of a repurposed historic brick fire station topped by a glass-and-steel addition that juts at a bold angle. Hadid was the first woman to win (2004) the Pritzker Prize, and was created Dame Commander, Order of the British Empire, in 2012.

See A. Betsky, Zaha Hadid: The Complete Work (1998); P. Noever, ed., Zaha Hadid: Architecture (2003); G. F. Giusti, Zaha Hadid (2004); T. Sakamoto, Zaha Hadid: Works (CD-ROM, 2003).

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