Zaha Hadid, who bent skylines, dies at 65.

Iraqi-British starchitect, first female Pritzker winner, was a polarizing figure in the world of design

Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-British architect whose sinuous designs pushed the limits of  building shapes, and who became the first female recipient of the Pritzker Prize, died Thursday. She was 65.

Hadid died suddenly of a heart attack at a hospital in Miami, where she was being treated for bronchitis, her company, Zaha Hadid Architects, confirmed.

Over the last few years, Hadid’s name has often come up in the same breath as giants of architecture such as Frank Gehry, Norman Foster and Frank Lloyd Wright. An obituary released by her firm describes Hadid as the “greatest female architect in the world” whose interest lay in the intersection between “architecture, landscape and geology.”

“She was a great architect and a great friend. I will miss her,” Gehry said in a statement provided to The Real Deal.

Some of her most notable projects include the MAXXI: Italian National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome and the London Aquatics Center built for the 2012 Olympic Games. She is also the designer behind the upcoming Al Wakrah Stadium in Qatar, which will be used for the FIFA World Cup in 2022.

The London Aquatics Centre

In New York, Hadid designed 520 West 28th Street, a spaceship-like condo rising over the High Line that is being developed by the Related Companies. In Miami, Hadid designed One Thousand Museum, an under-construction luxury condo tower being developed in downtown.

Louis Birdman, a co-developer of One Thousand Museum, said Hadid “knew how to push the bounds of design.”

Ismael Leyva, an architect who worked alongside Hadid on the 520 West 28th Street project, said in a statement to TRD that “her loss will be felt by all those who value the outstanding contributions she made to the built environment.” Jeff Blau, CEO of Related Cos., said in a statement that Hadid’s impact “is sure to be felt for decades to come.”

505 West 28th Street

Born in Baghdad in 1950, Hadid went on to study mathematics at the American University of Beirut before moving to London to enroll at the Architectural Association in London in 1972. After graduation, she joined the Office of Metropolitan Architecture, and it was there that she worked under Rem Koolhaas. The Dutch architect once famously described the flamboyant Hadid as “a planet in her own inimitable orbit.”

Zaha Hadid and Rem Koolhaas in the 1970s

“When he said it at the time, I was upset,” Hadid told CNN in 2014. “But in a way he was right — I should not have a conventional career and he was absolutely spot on.”

When Hadid won the Pritzker in 2004, the jury wrote of her work: ““Each new project is more audacious than the last and the sources of her originality seem endless.” In 2015, she became the first woman to win the RIBA Gold Medal, Britain’s top architecture prize.


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