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RIP Zaha Hadid

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On March 31st, 2016, the world lost Zaha Hadid (b. 1950, Baghdad, Iraq). Zaha died at just 65-years old in Miami, Florida after a heart attack. She was in hospital for treatment of bronchitis.

Hadid’s architecture won awards at every turn. She didn’t just find clever and useful ways to enclose and purpose space. Her reach went beyond that, beyond the grasp of most into pure creativity.

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Brainstorming an office building.

As exemplified in the picture above, architecture was far from her only talent. Hadid was a noted designer in multiple fields, including shoes featured in a show at the Pushkin, jewelry, cars, and more. Art and art theory pervaded her process, with brainstorming for most projects taking the form of abstract sketches or paintings. 

The Museum of Modern Art recognized her skill by accepting one of her models as an exhibition-worthy artwork in its own right at a show in 1988 celebrating a reaction against modernism in contemporary architecture. Keeping in mind that in 1988, Hadid’s first big commission was still a few years away.

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Zaha’s design for shoes, cars, and more. Because she’s the designer we deserved, and the one we needed right now.

Creativity flourished most resplendently in architecture, which, for Hadid, was a way to bring an obvious truth about life to the way we work and live. Nature isn’t all right angles and straight lines, and curves aren’t imperfection. They’re a part of what we find beautiful in the natural world.

Zaha’s life was punctuated by architecture’s most prestigious awards. She won the Pritzker in 2004, the first woman to receive the honor. She was also the first woman, and the first Muslim, to receive the Stirling Prize when she won earlier this year.

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Pictured: Breaking barriers like a BAMF.

Success as an architect was hard earned. Hadid commented at length throughout her career on the difficulties of breaking into architecture’s “old boys club,” and additionally how that effort is compounded by adding her religion and race to the package.

But Hadid’s life is more than just the opposition she faced. That framing is too simple. Zaha wasn’t a good female architect. She was a world-class architect. One of the best.

RIP, Zaha.

By Clayton

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Clayton Schuster

Sr. Contributor

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