Zaha Hadid – a leading light in architecture

The end of last month brought a sombre note to April with the news that the architecture world had lost one of its leading lights and a major role model for women the world over.

On March 31 one of the most influential architects of her time, Zaha Hadid, passed away aged 65, after suffering from a heart attack in a hospital in Miami.

Hadid was hailed as being so influential in her contribution to contemporary architecture that her trailblazing work changed the way that buildings were made for the future. Her designs are featured around the world and her pioneering and extraordinary contribution to the industry has left a gaping hole which will be difficult to fill.

In tribute to the woman who fought against the odds to become the first woman to win the Pritzker prize, we have put together a biography of the life of Zaha Hadid, which showcases her many achievements throughout her career.

Zaha Hadid was born in Baghdad in 1950 and went on to study mathematics at the American University in Beirut. After a move to London in 1972 she studied architecture and then joined the Office of Metropolitan Architecture.

She established her own practice in 1980, three years later winning a prestigious competition with her radical design of The Peak – a leisure and recreational centre in Hong Kong.

Her awesome avant garde designs were taken to the level of art form and displayed in exhibitions around the world as they still are today. But, her first major built project came about in the late eighties/ early nineties with the Vitra Fire Station in Germany, which resembled a bird in flight. An exhibition space at the Millennium Dome in Greenwich, the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympics and the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinatti, Ohio were other projects that she became renowned for (the American museum was the first to be designed by a woman).

Hadid was well known for pushing the boundaries of architecture and design. After she won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, she went on to be awarded a RIBA Stirling Prize in 2010 for her design of the MAXXI museum of contemporary art and architecture in Rome, which was named the best building by a British architect completed in the last year. A second Stirling Prize came the year after, following her work on a London secondary school, in 2012 she was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire, while in 2014 she became the first woman to win the London Design Museum’s Design of the Year with a cultural centre in Azerbaijan.

She also held chairs and guest professorships at a variety of internationally renowned and highly prestigious universities around the world.

Following news of her death, many tributes were paid to the woman who was considered to have made one of the biggest impacts on architecture of her generation. It’s rare to find someone who affected their industry as Zaha Hadid did and, while she leaves behind an inspirational legacy, her presence will clearly be very sorely missed the world over.

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