Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi born British Architect, the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize and the first sole woman to receive the RIBA Royal Gold Medal, passed away on 31 March 2016 following a heart attack in Miami, Florida where she was being treated for bronchitis. Zaha has been one of the most prominent figures in modern architecture with her futuristic and trailblazing designs; the architectural community worldwide greatly mourns her loss.
Born in Baghdad, she moved to London in 1972 and founded Zaha Hadid Architects in 1979. She studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut and later attended the Architectural Association School in London. She has received design commissions around the world, and some of her most popular designs are the Maxxi Museum in Rome, the Evelyn Grace Academy in Brixton, for which she received the RIBA Stirling Award in 2010 and 2011 respectively; Al Wakrah Stadium – one of the main World-cup stadiums in Qatar; and the London Aquatics Center, to name a few. Zaha also taught at the Architectural Association School with OMA collaborators Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis, where she also led her own studio. She has held the Kenzo Tange Chair at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University; the Sullivan Chair at the University of Illinois, School of Architecture; and was a guest professor at several institutes around the world.
Upon the awarding of the RIBA Royal Gold Medal to Zaha Hadid, RIBA president Jane Ducan said of her designs, “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.” Renowned and successful as she was, it was certainly not an easy road for Zaha, collecting her gold medal in February 2016 she said,
“We now see more established female architects all the time,…that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sometimes the challenges are immense. There has been tremendous change over recent years and we will continue this progress.”
On 31 March 2016, Zaha Hadid Architects released a statement confirming the death of this phenomenal architect and Patrik Shumacher, the Director of Zaha Hadid Architects, wrote on Facebook, “We are all shocked and devastated that we lost Zaha today, a most beautiful individual, talent, leader and friend.”