The Iraqi-born, British-based, world renowned trail blazing architect Dame Zaha Hadid, has died aged 65. This year she was the first woman to receive the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) Gold Medal in recognition of her work.
She died following a heart attack on Thursday in a Miami hospital, where she was being treated for bronchitis. Her amazing designs have been commissioned around the world, including Hong Kong, Germany and Azerbaijan. Collecting her Gold Medal in February, Dame Zaha said she was proud to have been the first woman to win in her own right.
“We now see more established female architects all the time,” she said.
“That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sometimes the challenges are immense. There has been tremendous change over recent years and we will continue this progress.”
Dame Zaha twice won the Riba Stirling Prize, the UK’s most prestigious architecture award. In 2010 she won for the Maxxi Museum in Rome, winning again in 2011 for the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton. She considered that her work was not fully appreciated in the Uk, where he had chosen to make her home, but while her peers in the world of architecture may not have always praised her talents for their own dubious reasons, the British people loved her work and took her to their hearts. She personified everything they had been told Arab women are not – difficult, opinionated, short tempered, feisty and quite, quite brilliant.
Born in Baghad, she studied maths at the American University of Beirut – where she later designed a building on campus which was completed in 2014 – before embarking on her career at the Architectural Association in London.
In 1979 she set up her own company – Zaha Hadid Architects.
Her first major commission to be constructed was the Vitra Fire Station in Weil am Rhein in Germany.
The striking London Acquatics Centre in Stratford, which resembles a wave, features two 50-metre pools and a diving pool. After being used for the Olympics and Paralympics it was opened to the public in 2014.
“I love the London Aquatics Centre because it’s near where I live,” Dame Zaha said at the time.
London Mayor Boris Johnson wrote on Twitter: “So sad to hear of death of Zaha Hadid, she was an inspiration and her legacy lives on in wonderful buildings around the world.”
The President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Jane Duncan told the press: “This is absolutely terrible news. Dame Zaha Hadid was an inspirational woman, and the kind of architect one can only dream of being.
“Visionary and highly experimental, her legacy despite her young age, is formidable. She leaves behind a body of work from buildings to furniture, footwear and cars, that delight and astound people all around the world. The world of architecture has lost a star today.”
Perhaps we at The Middle East magazine are biased but we believe the world has lost a genius.
This article, edited by Pat Lancaster, was originally published by the BBC