Born in Baghdad, Iraq in 1950 (d. 2016), Hadid studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut before moving to London in 1972 to attend the Architectural Association (AA) School where she was awarded the Diploma Prize in 1977. Hadid founded Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) in 1979 and completed their first building, the Vitra Fire Station, Germany in 1993. Hadid taught at the AA School until 1987 and held numerous chairs and guest professorships at universities around the world including Columbia, Harvard, Yale and the University of Applied Arts in Vienna.
The evolution of Hadid’s buildings – from the interlocking forms of the Vitra Fire Station to the awesome, flowing urban spaces of the MAXXI Museum of 21 Century Art in Rome, London Aquatics Centre for the London 2012 Olympics and Heydar Aliyev Centre in Baku – demonstrates a consistent desire to question and innovate. Form and space are woven within structure. These are buildings which emerge from their context and are also capable of knitting disparate programs together; always surprising and always making connections.
Each of Hadid’s designs display the innovative research and investigation that instigates and defines the work. As Zaha Hadid stated in her 2011 conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist, co-director of the Serpentine Galleries, “I know from my experience that without research and experimentation not much can be discovered…”
Hadid’s outstanding contribution to the architectural profession has been acknowledged by the world’s most respected institutions including the Forbes List of the ‘World’s Most Powerful Women’ and the Japan Art Association presenting her with the ‘Praemium Imperiale’. In 2010 and 2011, ZHA’s designs were awarded the Stirling Prize, one of architecture’s highest accolades, by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Other awards include UNESCO naming Hadid as an ‘Artist for Peace’, the Republic of France honoring Hadid with the ‘Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres’ and TIME magazine included her in their list of the ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’. In 2012, Zaha Hadid was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II, and in February 2016, she received the Royal Gold Medal.