Remembering Zaha Hadid

04/1/16  |  Tony Sargent

People think that the most appropriate building is a rectangle, because that’s typically the best way of using space...


“People think that the most appropriate building is a rectangle because that’s typically the best way of using space. But is that to say that landscape is a waste of space? The world is not a rectangle.” – Dame Zaha Hadid

Recently, when I learned the sad news of Dame Zaha Hadid’s passing, I was reminded of the moment in 2015 when I was invited to our Related Companies office to be introduced to Related’s first New York residential project by Hadid. There are moments in life which we don’t forget. For me, this was a transformative one for my understanding of Zaha Hadid’s sense of design and fluidity. Listening to the marketing conversation I found myself running my fingers along with the miniature model of Hadid’s building at 520 West 28th Street. The curves felt natural to my hand. In the vertical hard-edged world that is New York design, this changed my understanding of what’s possible today. How design can be superbly luxurious, functional, and beautiful all at the same time.

In a 2013 interview with The Guardian, Hadid discussed her approach to design and responded to critics who felt her buildings were “impractical.” She insisted her buildings were entirely practical and that they were simply constructed around different organizational patterns.

“It’s like saying that everyone has to write in exactly the same way. And it is simply not the case.”

As the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize for architecture and a two-time winner of the UK’s Stirling Prize for architecture, Hadid was more than a pioneer for female architects: she was a true visionary. Her legacy can be found all around us today, not only in the great buildings she designed, but in the thousands of architects, designers, and artists that she impacted over the years, including my own vision of the world.

Zaha Hadid’s 10 Best Buildings In Photos

Dame Zaha’s creations include the extraordinary Aquatics Centre in London’s Olympic Park, the Heydar Aliyev Centre in Azerbaijan, Serpentine Sackler Gallery in London, the Guangzhou Opera House in China, the Galaxy Soho in Beijing, the Riverside Museum at Glasgow’s Museum of Transport, the Sheikh Zyed Bridge in Abu Dhabi, and the Vitra fire station in Weil am Rhein (Germany), her first commission.

To Dame Zaha Hadid, the pioneer of freeform architecture: your vision, your love of the curve, and your willingness to always think outside the (rectangular) box will be sorely missed.


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