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Zaha Hadid

Bagdad (1951–2016)

Zaha Hadid so elegantly defined a para­met­ric design that her name has become virtu­ally synony­mous with a swirling, swoop­ing archi­tec­ture that stretches Modernist simplic­ity to its limits. Born in Baghdad in 1950 and educated in London after the Baathist coup, she studied with Rem Kool­haas before ventur­ing on her own. Vitra asked her to design a chair; after six months of trying to perfect a form for one, she ended up design­ing a fire station for the company’s Germany complex.

Triumphs came else­where: a cubist Louise and Richard Rosen­thal Center for Contem­po­rary Art in Cincin­nati was the first museum in the U.S. to be designed by a woman. Her Guangzhou Opera House in China faced construc­tion trou­bles, but dazzled in its resem­blance to two faceted pebbles; her Messner Moun­tain Museum Corones, three volumes of concrete lodged into the Italian Alpines, is an eerie gem. And her sinuous 520 W 28th Street build­ing is among the most-photographed on NYC’s High Line. The first woman to win the Pritzker Prize, her approach lives on in gener­a­tions of archi­tects inspired by her bold forms and take-no-pris­on­ers inter­views — not to mention her furnish­ings, includ­ing her Moon seating system for B&B Italia, which applies her architecture’s curvi­lin­ear fluid­ity to an out-of-this-world sofa and ottoman.

Designs by Zaha Hadid (1)