Zaha Hadid was one of the leading international architects of today’s modern architecture. In a male-dominated profession, Hadid was one of the most well-respected woman working in the field. Based in London, where she was educated at the Architectural Association, Hadid became a partner of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture with OMA collaborators Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis. Teaching was central to Hadid’s career; as she held appointments at Harvard, Columbia, Yale and the universities of Chicago, Hamburg and Vienna. Hadid was selected as the 2004 recipient of the Pritzker Prize, the architectural equivalent to the Nobel Prize. The prize comprises of a bronze medallion and a $100,000 gift. Ms. Hadid received her award at the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia on May 31, 2004. She was not only the first woman to win this coveted award, but also the youngest recipient at age 53.
Hadid was an architect who consistently pushed the boundaries of architecture and urban design. Her work experimented with spatial quality, extending and intensifying existing landscapes in the pursuit of a visionary aesthetic that encompassed all fields of design. Many of her works in the last decade of her career were centered in Germany, such as the Vitra Fire Station and the L-F One building, both in Weil-am-Rhein. She was in demand for major museum commissions around the world (Tokyo; Copenhagen; Rome; Wolfsburg, Germany), civic plans and structures for Singapore; Innsbruck, Austria, and Salerno, Italy.
The sense of motion in all of Hadid’s designs, from furniture to buildings, has always been palpable. Her design for the Contemporary Arts Center in Rome, a dense urban setting, vividly displays her strategy of interweaving paths of activity to create architecture of fluidity and movement. She described the structure as composed of “force fields and trajectories,” some of which trace existing fields of movement through the site; others anticipate desired paths of circulation. Hadid aptly took the activity of moving cars, trams, pedestrians, and bicycles as the basis for the design of a tram station and 800- space parking lot in Strasbourg, France. She rendered the structure as the confluence of overlapping fields, each field delineating the motion of a particular mode of transit. Hadid’s design for the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, her first North American building, responded to the forces at play in an urban setting. Her design brings visitors indoors along a fluid “urban carpet,” a conceptual extension of the street that draws the ground plane – and the public activity that takes place on it – into and through the building, leading visitors to a ramp accessing the center’s various galleries. The “urban carpet” is thus transformed into a non-urban condition, a “natural” landscape indoors. As for the Price Tower Arts Center, Hadid proposed an expansion to be built next to the Price Tower in 2003. This expansion design has since been archived in the Price Tower Arts Center collections, but currently has no plan to be built.