In the world of inventive contemporary architecture there are a few notable names that come to mind: Frank Gehry, Renzo Piano, Tom Wright, Jean Nouvel and Sir Norman Foster just to name a few. All white men. The architectural world has often been accused of not having enough minorities and women, at least not enough who are lauded on this kind of level. However, one architect who breaks this mold is Zaha Hadid, one of the most famous and important architects of the last thirty years.
Hadid is a Dame of the British Empire, and has won many international architecture awards and competitions including the most important, The Pritzker Prize. Part of what makes Hadid so celebrated is her inventive use of form and her ability to utilize external and internal space in an inventive manner.
Design for The Peak Leisure Club, Hong Kong, 1982-83.
Hadid comes from an Iraqi background, but her family emigrated to Britain during the 1950s and she soon became interested in architecture. She enrolled in the innovative Architectural Association School of Architecture, in London, where her teachers included such luminaries as Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis. The school’s emphasis was on experimentation, which was perfect for Hadid. She began to create intricate and beautiful plans that looked a lot like exquisite modern abstract paintings.
Hadid’s first major design, The Peak Leisure Club project in Hong Kong designed 1982-83, was never completed – though it won the design competition for the site, and is seen as a revolutionary to this day. Her use of unusual jagged shapes incorporated directly to the rock face on which the structure sat was dynamic, and seemed to reject gravity’s pull. Hadid began to get a lot of attention because of it.
Although she had some setbacks in the 1990s including the rejection of her design for the Cardiff Opera House in Wales, around 2000 her work became very well-known and respected. Her most important buildings to date include the Vitra Fire Station (later converted into a museum), the BMW Central Building, and the Bergisel Ski Jump.
Design for The Vilnius Guggenheim-Hermitage Museum, Vilnius, Lithuania, 2001.
Lois and Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1997-20.
BMW Central Building, Leipzig, Germany, 2001-2005.
The Vitra Fire Station, Weil Am Rein, Germany, 1991-93.