March 31, 2016


Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-British architect whose curving, elongated structures left a mark on skylines around the world, and who was the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize, her profession’s highest honor, died on Thursday in Miami. She was 65.

Ms. Hadid “contracted bronchitis earlier this week and suffered a sudden heart attack while being treated in hospital,” her office, Zaha Hadid Architects in London, said in a statement.

Ms. Hadid, renowned for her theoretical work, created designs that were so complex that for the first few decades of her practice many of her more ambitious projects were never realized, even as she gained a dedicated following among her colleagues.

I remember seeing Hadid’s radical shapes for the first time in the mid-to-late ‘90s; yesterday when I began unpacking my books in Texas, I came across my copy of one of the first portfolios of her work, published by Rizzoli in 1998.

With their sweeping and expressionistic angles blended with a return to Mies van der Rohe-style minimalism, they seemed like an exciting way forward beyond postmodernism, which by then had gotten to be something of a dead-end. If we could have had Syd Mead design our cars and Hadid more of our buildings, the 21st century might have looked a bit more like the 21st century we were promised by Stanley Kubrick and Gerry Anderson in the late 1960s. Her fire station for the Switzerland-based Vitra furniture company, built in 1994, was her first completed structure, and still looks remarkable today.


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