The architect—immensely popular despite being truly radical—has died following a heart attack aged 65by Jay Merrick / April 1, 2016 / Leave a comment
Zaha Hadid, best-known in Britain as the architect of the Aquatics Centre used in the London Olympics, was arguably the one true architectural superstar of the last decade. Frank Gehry was as famous, Rem Koolhaas was more assiduously controversial, and Norman Foster vastly more successful. But in terms of media magnetism, Hadid had the X-Factor. She was the only architect to whom both of the conflicting words “radical” and “fashionable” applied perfectly. Her early work, based on drawings, was jagged and radical; her more recent architecture was more parametric—more flowing. In both modes, Hadid’s was an original talent.
Her aura—and the fact she would rise to stardom—were obvious from the moment her late arrival interrupted Richard Rogers’s welcoming speech at the 2000 Venice Biennale arts exhibition. Hadid’s oscillations between shy uncertainty and sudden declamatory speech contributed to her now-legendary manner. There was the megaphone she would sometimes use, and the fact she once instructed a portion of her staff to leave her Clerkenwell office because it felt too crowded. As I witnessed myself, there was a very particular way she liked her assistants to deliver her demitasses of espresso, and her firm instruction to her co-director, Patrik Schumacher, to eat more potatoes while both were lunching in a restaurant.