Dame Zaha Hadid has been awarded Riba’s royal gold medal for architecture, making her the first woman ever to be awarded the honour in her own right.
The renowned Iraqi-born, London-based architect designed the Aquatics Centre for the 2012 London Olympics, as well as buildings in cities from Guangzhou in China to Abu Dhabi to Glasgow, Scotland.
The medal is given in recognition of a lifetime’s work by the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba) and is personally approved by Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
Riba president Jane Duncan, called Hadid “a formidable and globally-influential force in architecture”.nShe said: “Highly experimental, rigorous and exacting, her work from buildings to furniture, footwear and cars, is quite rightly revered and desired by brands and people all around the world.”
The architect was made a dame in 2012 and has won numerous awards during her career.
Dame Zaha has twice won the Riba Stirling Prize, the UK’s most prestigious architecture award. In 2010, she won for the Maxxi Museum in Rome and in 2011 for the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton.
In 2004, she became the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize.
Last year the Heydar Aliyev Centre, which she designed in Baku, Azerbaijan, won the Design Museum Design of the Year Award. She was also the first woman to win the top prize in that competition.
Dame Zaha (above), grew up in Iraq before leaving to study in the UK at the age of 17. She set up her own practice in London in 1979. She gained a reputation across the world for her trail-blazing theoretical works including The Peak in Hong Kong, the Kurfurstendamm in Berlin and the Cardiff Bay Opera House in Wales.
Her other creations include the Bridge in Zaragoza, Spain, the Riverside Museum at Glasgow’s Museum of Transport and Guangzhou Opera House.
This summer, however, the Japanese government scrapped plans to build an Olympic stadium based on one of her designs. The $2bn (£1.3bn) stadium was to be the showpiece for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, but came under criticism as estimated building costs almost doubled. A statement from Zaha Hadid Architects said that the stadium designed by the firm could be built cost-effectively.
Speaking about the RIBA award, Hadid told the BBC’s Arts Editor Will Gompertz: “It’s great, it’s been a tough summer so it’s very refreshing.”
This article was originally published by the BBC