Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-British architect who led the movement for expressive, formal experimentation in architecture, has died at 65.
Zaha Hadid Architects confirmed the death of its founding partner to Co.Design, explaining that Hadid had been hospitalized in Miami–where her design for the 62-story One Thousand Museum tower is under construction–after contracting bronchitis this week. She died suddenly in the early hours of Thursday morning of a heart attack.
As the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize, in 2004, Hadid was an outspoken critic of gender inequality in architecture. In 2013, she told The Observer that misogyny was still alive and well in the profession of which she was a leader. “It is a very tough industry and it is male-dominated, not just in architectural practices, but the developers and the builders too,” she said. “Society has not been set up in a way that allows women to go back to work after taking time off.”
But above all else, she was a brilliant, expressive, and often divisive architect who led her profession into a new era of radical formalism–bolstered by emerging modeling technology that made building these structurally complex buildings possible. Mentored by Rem Koolhaas, “she was his protégée, and he hers,” Nigel Coates told Hugh Pearman in 2006. “She was always exasperatingly volatile. She always did take you to the limit. That’s what we loved about her, and that’s why her work has got that confidence about it.” When she became the first woman to win RIBA’s Gold Medal this year, Peter Cook wrote, “Indeed her vociferous criticism of poor work or stupidity recalls the line-side comments of the tennis player John McEnroe.”
Reactions from architects and critics have been instant as the news broke this morning. She was “one of the great architectural figures of our time,” critic Paul Goldberger wrote. “Devastated by the loss of a great architect & colleague today. Her spirit will live on in her work and studio,” Studio Libeskind tweeted.
“Her interest was in the interface between architecture, landscape, and geology; which her practice integrates with the use of innovative technologies often resulting in unexpected and dynamic architectural forms,” Hadid’s firm writes today in an announcement. “[She] was widely regarded to be the greatest female architect in the world today.”
All Photos (unless otherwise noted): courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects