Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi-British architect known for her grand, avant-garde projects, died on Thursday. She was 65 years old.
Hadid contracted bronchitis earlier this week and died of a sudden heart attack in the early morning during treatment at a Miami hospital, according to a statement from her firm, Zaha Hadid Architects.
In an era defined by “starchitects”, Hadid stood out not for glassy skyscrapers but for her inventive, and often logistically challenging, designs on display in cities around the world, the Wall Street Journal said.
From Leipzig to London, for more than four decades, Hadid’s work has questioned underlying assumptions of what a building can be, the newspaper said.
“There are 360 degrees,” she once said. “So why stick to one?”
Born in Baghdad in 1950, Hadid studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut before attending the Architectural Association in London in 1972.
In 1979, she started her own practice in London, where she pursued risk-taking designs for which funding was often scarce.
Her first major commission was the Vitra Fire Station in Weil Am Rhein, Germany, which she completed in 1993.
Among her other major projects were the Rosenthal Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, a vast gallery of zig-zagging ramps; the coiled, multilayered National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome; and the sinuous London Aquatic Center, built for the 2012 Olympic Games, the Journal said.
She was also known for designs that hadn’t been built, the newspaper said, such as her 1983 plan for the Peak, a famous tourist spot atop a hill in Hong Kong.
Hadid was twice the recipient of Britain’s RIBA Stirling Prize and had been awarded the Republic of France’s Commandeur de l’Ordre des Artes et des Lettres and Japan’s Praemium Imperiale.
In 2012, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.
The crowning glory of her career came in 2004, when she won the Pritzker Architecture Prize, becoming the first female architect to be given the profession’s most prestigious award.
“She was a woman, she was a Muslim, she was an Iraqi, and that doesn’t necessarily play very well everywhere,” said Peter Palumbo, current chairman of the Pritzker Architecture Prize jury. “She had to overcome all that, which she did in grand style.”
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