Pioneering architect Zaha Hadid dies, aged 65

by Kim Megson | 31 Mar 2016

Dame Zaha Hadid, the world-renowned British architect, has died aged 65.

Her practice, Zaha Hadid Architects, has confirmed that she died of a heart attack on Thursday (31 March) in a Miami hospital, where she was being treated for bronchitis.

Hadid, who was one of the most acclaimed figures in world architecture, became the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004. She was also awarded the 2016 Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) – becoming the first woman to win the prestigious honour in her own right.

The Iraqi-born, London-based architect came to prominence in 1993 with buildings such as her striking design for the Vitra Fire Station in Weil Am Rhein, Germany.

However, her work in the leisure sphere brought some of her biggest triumphs, with buildings such as the MAXXI: Italian National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome (2009), the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympic Games (2011) and the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku (2013) becoming global icons.

Hadid, whose early work was angular, went on to develop a free-form building style with striking sinuous curves which became a trademark. However, in spite of the dramatic nature of much of her work, the architect insisted that design should first and foremost contribute to society and enhance wellbeing.

Speaking during her RIBA Royal Gold Medal lecture in London last month, Hadid said that unlike artists, architects have a duty to the community's wellbeing and should not dwell on “contemplation, expression or provocation” in their work.

“For me there was never any doubt that architecture must contribute to society’s progress and ultimately to our individual and collective wellbeing,” she said. “It performs and facilitates everyday life.”

Hadid had been due to take part in The Pritzker Laureates' Conversation at United Nations Headquarters in New York next week (5 April), joining a panel with 2016 Pritzker Prize Laureate Alejandro Aravena along with Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Richard Meier, Glenn Murcutt, Wang Shu, Thom Mayne and Christian de Portzamparc to discuss 'Challenges Ahead for the Built Environment'.

Responding to news of her death, Tom Pritzker, Chairman of the Hyatt Foundation which sponsors the Pritzker Prize, said, "Zaha represented the highest aspirations of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. She combined her vision and intellect with a force of personality that left no room for complacency. She made a real difference."

The Chair of the Jury of the Pritzker Architecture Prize Jury, Lord Peter Palumbo said, "The world of culture has lost a standard-bearer for the art of architecture. Zaha Hadid fought prejudice all her life with great success. And this – in addition to her genius as an architect – will secure her legacy for all time."

The architecture community have reacted with shock and sadness to the news and paid tribute to her extraordinary talent.

Zaha Hadid  architecture  design 
Dame Zaha Hadid, the world-renowned British architect, has died aged 65. Her practice, Zaha Hadid Architects, has confirmed that she died of a heart attack on Thursday (31 March) in a Miami hospital, where she was being treated for bronchitis. Hadid, who was one of the most acclaimed figures in world architecture, became the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004. She was also awarded the
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Zaha Hadid became the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize and RIBA Gold Medal / Sophie Mutevelian
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