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A special issue. (updated April 12, 2016)

By Kristen Richards
April 4, 2016

I didn’t know Zaha Hadid. I have never been to one of her buildings. We met once in 2002 (or was it early ‘03?) – in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, of all places. We were there to preview what was to be the Hadid-designed Price Tower Arts Center at Frank Lloyd Wright’s only built skyscraper.


The project never came to fruition. But my encounter with her left an indelible impression. Passionate. Self-confident. Eloquent. Billowing Issey Miyake to match her billowing personality and deep-throated laugh that filled the room.


She had little patience for stupid questions – and all the patience in the world to explain a design detail that someone was curious about. I was star-struck – and also struck by the feeling that I one wouldn’t want to be caught on her wrong side.


There was an edge about her that enthralled and intimidated. She challenged us all. Zaha Hadid was – and will remain – a force to be reckoned with on so many levels for a long time to come.


Kristen Richards, Hon. AIA, Hon. ASLA



The critics: most of the crème-de-la-crème of architectural journalists have chimed in (listed in alphabetical order – other than ANN’s own Norman Weinstein, and Hugh Pearman’s exquisite profile from 10 years ago); we will be updating as new postings come our way.


Norman Weinstein                                             Michael Kimmelman

Hugh Pearman                                                  Mark Lamster

Amanda Baillieu                                                Julie Lasky

Tegan Bukowski                                                Rowan Moore

Kriston Capps                                                   Alexander Nazaryan

Peter Cook                                                       Anne Quito

Justin Davidson                                                 Caroline Roux

Duo Dickinson                                                   James S. Russell

Jesse Dorris                                                      John Seabrook

Frank Gehry                                                      Yasmin Shariff

Paul Goldberger                                                 Ian Volner

Christopher Hawthorne                                       Oliver Wainwright

Edwin Heathcote                                               Ellis Woodman

Randy Kennedy/Robin Pogrebin                          Jing Zhang

Philip Kennicott


Updated April 12, 2016:

Frances Anderton with Joseph Giovannini, Tom Wiscombe, Craig Hodgetts, Ming Fung, and Emmanuelle Bourlier

Aaron Betsky

Paul Crosby

Thomas de Monchaux

Marcus Fairs

Joseph Giovannini

Sam Hall Kaplan

Owen Hatherley

John Hill

Julie V. Iovine

Rem Koolhaas

Marc Kushner

Phyllis Lambert

Carolina A. Miranda

Michael Sorkin

Esther Sperber

Marilyn Jordan Taylor


In Memoriam: Zaha Hadid

By Norman Weinstein


She’s now in sole box she can’t break out of –

winds of London, in your upsweep,

honor her daring against odds. Unceasing

turbulence of Baghdad, let out your curling

cry. Let one least likely design

be lifetime marker. On Bergisel Mountain

her ski jump stands

both tower and bridge. She never ceased

speaking architecture

as tower,

as bridge,

as that second

when an Alpine dare

devil skier


its Zaha’s spirit in form in elevation

he’s playfully

risking his life for.


Hugh Pearman, June 4, 2006: Iraqitect: Zaha Hadid: Whatever you think an architect looks like, whatever you think an architect does...disabuse yourselves of those notions. And consider instead...the most extraordinary success story that this notoriously volatile profession has ever produced...That’s ZAHA – a life lived in capital letters. (The Sunday Times Magazine) (UK)


Frances Anderton talks Zaha with Joseph Giovannini, Tom Wiscombe, Craig Hodgetts, Ming Fung ,and Emmanuelle Bourlier: "If there was a Mount Olympus of architects, she would be on it."

KCRW (Los Angeles)


Amanda Baillieu: Zaha was always a difficult person to deal with: Zaha Hadid...deserves to be recognised as one of architecture's greats. But she was also difficult, even when you were on her side: Step into one of her best buildings, and you feel anything is possible.



Aaron Betsky: Zaha Hadid, 1950-2016: Remembering early drawings...her journey into the realm of spatial continuity: I hope and trust that we will remember her not as a diva or as imperious, but as somebody who was forceful, clear, and able to pursue her vision despite the many obstacles...Translating her kind of architecture into built form took a heroic effort that she labored at all her life.

Architect Magazine


Tegan Bukowski: Zaha Hadid: More Than a ‘Female Architect’: The focus on the architect’s gender obscures her real achievements: I lost a mentor and professional hero, and the world lost one of its leading form makers...It’s an irreplaceable loss, not just for those of us in her studio, but for an entire generation of architects - men and women alike.

New York Times


Kriston Capps: Remembering Zaha Hadid: For better and for worse, Hadid was the world’s first woman starchitect: More than any other architect’s work, her curvilinear designs and laser-sleek geometry marked the transition from the 20th to the 21st century...never strayed from a path of elegance, focus, and an unyielding unwillingness to compromise.



Peter Cook’s Obituary of Zaha Hadid: Zaha : the Great Light extinguished...IMMENSE talent.

Such that it either inspired, bewildered, or caused deep jealousy...we are now berift of that most precious and mysterious quality : power through inspiration and talent plus bags of personality that rendered both of them as beacons of hope for architecture. ‘Sticking to one’s guns’ is an amazing gift.

The Architect's Newspaper


Paul Crosby: Zaha Hadid: an exceptional, complex, and inspirational person to work with: Myths and legends about Zaha pervade...she generates debate and controversy like no other contemporary designer...I will miss her texts, and her belief that if it couldn’t be said in five words then it wasn’t worth saying.

The Conversation


Justin Davidson: Zaha Hadid, Visionary Architect: ...who designed buildings that could inspire awe and derision but never indifference...we’re left with a trove of middle-period Hadids and questions about what the next chapter might have brought...She wanted its impact to be physiological and psychological - to make people happy and excited and, if necessary, enraged.

New York Magazine


Thomas de Monchaux: Zaha Hadid Was Just Getting Started: ...architects like to think of themselves as Renaissance artists...Hadid was more of the Renaissance than some: her unusual and anachronistic distinction is that...her most significant handmade works are paintings. And her paintings, for all the accomplishment of her Pritzker Prize-winning body of built work...may be what travel furthest into the future.

New Yorker


Duo Dickinson: Death & Architecture: Zaha Hadid has left a world she was not willing to be confined by: The idiosyncrasies of Hadid’s brand of "sculptitecture” may fade from white to black in her absence...are our buildings a living legacy, or just a three dimensional resume?

Common Edge


Jesse Dorris: From Design to Gender Expectations, Zaha Hadid Never Stopped Trying to Reshape Reality: Despite almost 40 years in the business, it felt like she was only getting started. Or perhaps better: that the world was only just getting started with her. Hadid was so far ahead of the curve that it took decades for the world to catch up to her.



Marcus Fairs: Zaha left us ahead of time, but she did everything ahead of time...a personal tribute + Q&A with Rem Koolhaas/OMA: Zaha Hadid was "a combination of beauty and strength" + more



Frank Gehry Remembers Zaha Hadid, Who ‘Found Her Niche and Went With It’: “She created a language that’s unique to her”: From the beginning, Gehry says “she was one of the guys” in the notoriously male-dominated architecture community. “[That’s] sexist in its own way I suppose. I don’t mean it that way."

Time Magazine


Joseph Giovannini: Zaha Hadid, Friend: the wonderful force of nature known as Zaha Hadid...An architect can never really design outside her temperament and character, and Zaha, as a person, was not afraid of conflict and the unexpected consequences of collision...her buildings were a portrait of Zaha through and through: complex, detailed, sweeping, confident, disciplined, wild.

Architect Magazine


Paul Goldberger: The Social Art of Zaha Hadid, Architecture’s Most Engaging Presence: She reveled in her status as an architectural icon...paving the way for other women to follow. But her goal was always to get to a point where she would be thought of as an architect first...buildings both finished and still in the works...every one of them seems far more rare and precious now than it did even yesterday, when there was the possibility of an endless number of them to look forward to.

Vanity Fair


Owen Hatherley: Zaha Hadid: From paintings to built legacy, she will be remembered as an absurdly fearless, aggressive and impolite talent rising at a time when architecture had become terrified of modernity.

Architectural Review (UK)


Christopher Hawthorne: A critic's take on the power of Zaha Hadid: Hers was the shadow none of us could escape...The degree to which Hadid's legacy will rest on how powerfully she smashed architecture's glass ceiling is a complicated question...Still, she was a groundbreaking figure for her career path as well as for the singular quality of her buildings, and she changed the power dynamics of a profession that desperately needed to evolve - and that desperately needs to keep doing so.

Los Angeles Times


Edwin Heathcote: Zaha Hadid, architect, 1950-2016: A visionary who invented an entirely new architecture: ...was always inevitably billed as the “greatest female architect” but very few men - if any - could match the distinctiveness of her style, the sculptural brilliance of her architecture or the sheer force of her character.

Financial Times (UK)


Edwin Heathcote: ‘Starchitects’ struggle to build brands that last beyond lifetime: The death last week of Zaha Hadid, one of an elite group of designers who have been labelled “starchitects”, has thrown up an intriguing question. What happens now? This generation of globetrotting talent has never lost one of its biggest names, so there is no precedent...If the architects are not necessarily thinking about succession, they are certainly thinking about legacy.

Financial Times (UK),Authorised=false.html


Sam Hall Kaplan: A Tip of the Hat to Zaha Hadid: As much as I had taken exception to the to the label stararchitect, out of concern that it seems to bestow the professional a license for indulgences...Dame Hadid was a happy exception. She said what she meant, and meant when she said. I loved it, even when I disagreed with her.

City Observed


John Hill: Remembering Zaha Hadid Through Her Paintings; ...we look back at some of the Pritzker Prize-winning architect's signifcant works through the unmistakable, dazzling, and often mind-boggling paintings she produced...served as remarkable vehicles for expressing Hadid's one-of-a-kind vision.


Julie V. Iovine: Zaha Hadid, 1950-2016: Building the Unbuildable: The Baghdad-born architect challenged the notion of what buildings can do and look like: [Her] exacting demands for freedom of architectural expression sometimes led to controversies and criticism that she was arrogant and overly ambitious, comments that she vigorously protested.

Wall Street Journal


Randy Kennedy and Robin Pogrebin: Female Architects on the Significance of Zaha Hadid: ...the sense of loss...has been most pronounced among female architects, who saw Hadid as a rare beacon of hope for their own success in a male-dominated field and a barometer of its continuing sexism.

New York Times


Philip Kennicott: Zaha Hadid always seemed unstoppable, but she left a mixed legacy: ...a trailblazer and an imperious maverick who didn’t suffer fools gladly...If it takes decades to assess her legacy, it may take just as long to disentangle her work and the controversies that dogged her career from the sincere admiration many felt for her astonishing success in a male-dominated environment...Few architects of her stature, importance and influence leave the scene with so much unresolved.

Washington Post


Michael Kimmelman: Zaha Hadid, Groundbreaking Architect: She was not just a rock star and a designer of spectacles. She also liberated architectural geometry...Inevitably, she stirred nearly as much controversy as she won admiration...“She was a pioneer.” She was. For women, for what cities can aspire to build and for the art of architecture.

New York Times


Rem Koolhaas (Q&A): Zaha Hadid was a combination of beauty and strength: [Our] relationship was based on shared ambition, shared empathy, shared interest and a shared motivation to challenge the same things...I think she made an enormous contribution as a woman, but her greatest contribution is as an architect.



Marc Kushner: Zaha Hadid Was the Star Architecture Needed: Her breathtaking buildings, all rooted in decades of academic research, demonstrate architecture’s most extreme potential to delight and thrill. With each new building she made architecture fans out of millions who had never thought critically about the structures around them.



Phyllis Lambert: Not everything Zaha built or proposed was groundbreaking and a person of such talent and force of character, especially a woman, has many critics. When, with some distance, her work is assessed within the context of our time, I am convinced that Zaha Hadid will surely stand at the pinnacle of ambitious architecture.

Canadian Architect


Mark Lamster: Remembering Zaha Hadid: the world’s most famous (and controversial) female architect: ...the nature of her legacy remains an open is hard to imagine a “School of Hadid” developing in her absence...Sustainability, contextualism, modesty, resilience, craft - these are not attributes one associates with Hadid or her work, though they define architecture in the present day.

Dallas Morning News


Julie Lasky: Zaha Hadid: Unrepentant Diva, Yes, But Also a Leader in Full Bloom: ...being eulogized for blazing a trail for her gender, but demographics should have nothing to do with it. She was a model for all architects...Intentionally or not, she rode the third wave of feminism, asserting her power and sensuality not as a political gesture but as a basic human right and taking twice as many knocks for it as the male divas in her field.



Carolina A. Miranda: Why we talk about Zaha Hadid's gender and ethnicity even though her architecture transcended both: ...[she] was expected to produce strong, functional designs. But as a woman, she also faced the added pressure of having her work interpreted as some sort of gender statement...As far as a whole generation of women architects are concerned...what she did was just the beginning.

Los Angeles Times


Rowan Moore: Zaha Hadid, 1950-2016: an appreciation: The Observer’s architecture critic, who himself worked with Hadid, pays tribute to her provocative and always uncompromising talent: her person and her work, one feeling that Hadid rarely elicited was indifference.

Observer (UK)


Alexander Nazaryan: Zaha Hadid’s Complex Legacy: The brilliant architect wanted immunity from the political implications of her work: ...evaluations of Hadid’s career will also have to grapple with something less seemly: her occasional denial that there were any ethical implications to her projects...[her] legacy reminds us that genius does not operate in a dustless ether of abstractions. It matters where the buildings are built, as well as who builds them.



Anne Quito: The devastating loss of Zaha Hadid for women in architecture: You may not always like her aesthetic, her candor or the politics of her clients, but Zaha Hadid...has left a dark hole in the world of architecture...A role model, but never a mold...For many rising female architects, losing Hadid is like seeing a beacon in the field extinguished.



Caroline Roux: The Zaha Hadid I knew: With the sad news of the renowned architect's death, Roux remembers a formidable but fun personality who changed the shape of architecture forever: ...her influence can hardly be overplayed, neither the fact that she left behind the epithet “female” a while back.

Telegraph (UK)


James S. Russell: Blunt-Spoken Zaha Hadid Wins over Critics in Death: [She] was indomitable, tough, blunt, and pugnacious...For these reasons I was surprised at the beautiful outpouring of grief and praise this week...A much softer side of Zaha is now emerging...I wonder, is it safe to acknowledge her greatness now that her irascible self is no longer around to prick architecture’s thinning gentility?


John Seabrook: Postscript: Zaha Hadid, 1950-2016: I have never known anyone whose reputation provoked more terror yet whose actual presence was more fun...Why did every second article attach “diva” to her name? Isn’t every architect a diva? Truly, it was because Hadid was a woman who had dared to enter a man’s world, and took no shit from anybody, though plenty was offered.

New Yorker


Yasmin Shariff/Dennis Sharp Architects: For Muslims and women, Zaha Hadid was a shining torch: Zaha was an outsider and upfront about the unfair treatment she experienced: Jealousy and prejudice failed to bar her way, but it took its toll. Very few people realise the misogynistic, racist and anti-architect environment she had to navigate in Britain...a travesty that she had to pay the price of discrimination in a profession that should know better.

Guardian (UK)


Michael Sorkin: Travels With Zaha: A critic remembers a madcap Brazilian sojourn with Zaha Hadid: There would be gales of laughter, oceans of gossip, acute observations, urgent detours, deep appreciation, and the greatest tenderness. What a trip.

Architectural Record


Esther Sperber/Studio ST Architects: The Shadow of Zaha Hadid: She was amazing, but my role models are smaller, more approachable, perhaps more like I want to see myself when I grow up...She imagined things no one had ever seen, and she was able to make these fantasies become physical realities. I could not see myself in her...If she was not my hero, why does her death matter so much?

Lilith Magazine


Marilyn Jordan Taylor: Zaha: Women in architecture as in many other historically male-dominated fields remain woefully underrepresented. The broad sweep of Zaha Hadid's ceiling-shattering accomplishments may not be surpassed for a long time, but she has already widened the wedge that holds doors open for others - women in particular - who believe in the beauty, power and transformative impact of design.

PennDesign Design Weekly


Ian Volner: In Memoriam: Zaha Hadid: Love her or hate her, her forceful personality and visually hyperactive buildings have forever changed the way we think about our cities: Institutions like the Guggenheim...proved that her work had broad appeal. The masses did the rest, conflating her exotic buildings with her personal exoticism - as they perceived it - to make Hadid...among the first to receive the ill-starred “starchitect” monicker.

Travel + Leisure


Oliver Wainwright: Zaha Hadid: creator of ambitious wonders - and a fair share of blunders: In her best buildings the laws of physics appear suspended, while other designs struggle when forced to meet reality: Unparalleled queen of the curve and conjuror of sinuous, billowing forms...But her feted starchitect status wasn’t easily won... The world of architecture would certainly have been more dull without her.

Guardian (UK)


Ellis Woodman: Zaha Hadid: a truly fearsome architect: The gravity-defying visionary...revelled in the spectacular and the controversial...I struggle to think of her as a great architect, but undoubtedly she was among the most emblematic and influential of her time.

Telegraph (UK)


Jing Zhang: Remembering Zaha Hadid: a candid, whip-sharp and passionate creative force: ...her appreciation of the cultural complexities facing developing countries shone through...and her eagerness to be part of it...On top of all this...whether willingly or not, [she] became a voice for fellow Arabs and women in the fields of design and architecture...because of her capacity to surprise and ability to smash through lazy stereotypes.

South China Morning Post

(click on pictures to enlarge)

Kristen Richards

Zaha Hadid, Bartlesville, Oklahoma, 2003