British architect Zaha Hadid, who was born in Iraq and became a British citizen, died suddenly in a Miami hospital on Thursday. Her modernist, futuristic buildings were praised all over the world. She turned 65.
Her company says that Hadid had a heart attack while being treated for bronchitis. The general manager of her company, Christian Gibbon, confirmed that she died at Miami Beach’s Mount Sinai Medical Center.
Hadid had been working in Miami on a luxury condo building called One Thousand Museum. It is a 62-story skyscraper with multimillion-dollar condos overlooking Biscayne Bay and a two-story penthouse that will sell for up to $50 million. After Hadid died, the project was finished by Chris Lepine, who was in charge of projects at Zaha Hadid Architects.
Kurt Dannwolf, a principal at the Hollywood, Florida-based architecture firm ODP Architects, where Hadid worked on the project, said that she often went to an apartment on Miami Beach that she used as a “personal retreat” to get away from her busy schedule.
The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was one of the first people to tweet his condolences. “So sad to hear of death of Zaha Hadid, she was an inspiration and her legacy lives on in wonderful buildings in Stratford and around the world.”
— Tim Fitch (@TimRFitch) May 24, 2016
Dame Zaha Hadid was one of the best architects in the world. In 2012, Queen Elizabeth II made her a Dame. Born in Bagdad, studied mathematics at Beirut University, then moved to London to start a career at the Architectural Association in London.
She worked with Rem Koolhaas in the innovative Office of Metropolitan Architecture, and she has held important positions at Harvard, Yale, and many other universities. She started her own business, Zaha Hadid Architects, in 1979.
Her work includes the swooping aquatic centre for the 2012 London Olympics, a BMW facility in Leipzig, Germany, sleek funicular railway stations in Innsbruck, Austria, and the strikingly curved Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan.
So sad to hear of death of Zaha Hadid, she was an inspiration and her legacy lives on in wonderful buildings in Stratford & around the world
— Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (@MayorofLondon) March 31, 2016
“She leaves behind a body of work from buildings to furniture, footwear and cars, that delight and astound people all around the world,” said Jane Duncan, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, in a statement. “The world of architecture has lost a star today.”
Hadid built the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, which opened in 2003 and was called “the best new building since the Cold War” by The New York Times.
And the sleek, sculptural look of her design for a futuristic apartment building on New York’s High Line elevated park has been praised.
She won Britain’s Stirling Prize for architecture twice, and in 2004 she was the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize, which is called the “Nobel Prize of architecture.” The jury for the Pritzker Prize praised her unwavering commitment to modernism and her refusal to follow the rules.
“The jury is pleased to acknowledge one of the great architects at the dawning of the twenty-first century by awarding the 2004 Pritzker Architecture Prize to Zaha Hadid, to commend her extraordinary achievements, and to wish her continued success,” the citation said.
Dannwolf, an architect in Hollywood who had been working with Hadid’s firm on One Thousand Museum since 2012, said that everyone on his team was heartbroken by the news. But he said that they were glad to have been able to work with her on the building, which is still being built.
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Dannwolf said that every architecture student knew of Hadad because of her unique style. What most interested him about her was how she could take designs that would normally be considered “theoretical” and build them.
“It’s very, very difficult to get these things built,” he said. “That’s why her work is really inspirational for a lot of young architects. Getting the opportunity to work with her has been a real great honour for myself personally and my whole team.”
The people who made One Thousand Miami also felt sad about Zaha Hadid’s death. “The world has just lost an amazing woman with unequalled talent,” read the statement. “We are extremely honoured to have known and worked with Zaha and we will continue to honour her vision.”
Many of her fans and peers around the world started tweeting when they heard the news. In 2010, famous fashion designer Donna Karan wrote an article for Time magazine in which she was named one of the most influential people in the world.
— Alejandro Plaza (@plaza_art) April 4, 2016
“To me, Zaha’s womanliness is what makes her designs so compelling. She brings a female sensibility and a goddess’s touch. Her work is light and lyrical, like an Asian artisan’s brushstroke captured forever in the environment. Because her approach is so international, her designs are comfortable anywhere in the world.”
“However you view her work, Zaha … is a visionary. Her style is legendary now and completely original. Whether it’s a building or a sofa, you know you’re experiencing a unique, individual expression. Zaha is a woman and an artist of her time — and yet she is very much ahead of it too,” Karan wrote.
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