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New York Review Of Books Critic Apologizes For Error In Zaha Hadid Takedown

Last week architect Zaha Hadid demanded that the New York Review of Books retract a June essay by critic Martin Filler, claiming that the "personal attack disguised as a book review" had "exposed Ms. Hadid to public ridicule and contempt."

Now, she's getting at least part of her wish. This afternoon Filler responded to the defamation lawsuit Hadid filed in New York's State Supreme Court with a letter to the Review's editors; he acknowledged a factual error at the basis of his critique of Hadid's perceived callousness toward laborers at the site of the stadium she designed for Qatar's hosting of the 2022 World Cup, and expressed "regret." New York Review Of Books Editor Robert B. Silvers emailed us Filler's statement:

In my review of Rowan Moore’s Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture [NYR, June 5], I quoted comments by the architect Zaha Hadid, who designed the Al Wakrah stadium in Qatar, when she was asked in London in February 2014 about revelations a week earlier in the Guardian that hundreds of migrant laborers had died while working on construction projects in Qatar. I wrote that an "estimated one thousand laborers...have perished while constructing her project thus far."

However, work did not begin on the site for the Al Wakrah stadium, until two months after Ms. Hadid made those comments; and construction is not scheduled to begin until 2015. There have been no worker deaths on the Al Wakrah proiect and Ms. Hadid’s comments about Qatar that l quoted in the review had nothing to do with the Al Wakrah site or any of her projects.

I regret the error.

Silvers did not respond to a request for comment over the status of the defamation lawsuit, in which Hadid demanded damages, a full retraction, and an injunction on the review. Filler's letter now appears at the end of his article, available to subscribers.