As It Happens

Remembering 'Queen of curves' architect Zaha Hadid

The world of starchitecture is overwhelmingly male. But Zaha Hadid rose to the top, regardless. Today, the Iraqi-British architect died unexpectedly at 65.
British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, left, designed the London Aquatics Centre, right, for the 2012 Olympic Games. (Left: Kevork Djansezian/AP, Right: John Walton/AP)

World-renowned architect Zaha Hadid died Thursday at the age of 65. The British-Iraqi architect had a heart attack while being treated for bronchitis at a Miami hospital. 

"[Hadid] was larger than life and bold as brass,"  Angela Brady tells As it Happens host Carol Off. "You knew when she came into the room. She would sweep in  — generally late  — and people would turn their heads …. She'd be just like a magnet. People would all want to go up and have a chat with her, which was wonderful to see."

Brady is an architect and the former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects. The Institute has honoured Hadid on a number of occasions — most recently, this year, when Hadid was awarded the prestigious Royal Gold Medal given by the RIBA on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen.

Hadid rose through the ranks in a field where few women ever make it to the top. She was the first woman to win the highest honour in the field of architecture, the Pritzker Prize, in 2004.

Brady describes Hadid's style of architecture as "curvacious."

"She was the queen of the curve, as they say. She had buildings that were very kind of uplifting when you went into them."

Hadid was best known for her design of the London Olympic Aquatic Centre. Also on her resume was the MAXXI Museum in Italy and the Guangzhou Opera House in China. More recently, Hadid designed the controversial al-Wakrah soccer stadium in Qatar, for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.  

"She could have brought us so much more. At 65, as an architect, you get better with age. So, she was at the height of her career and the height of her potential," says Brady. "It's a real loss to our profession and a real loss for us as women in architecture. She was a real role model for us."

For more on Hadid's life and the criticism her buildings faced, take a listen to our full interview.

Here's a look at some of Hadid's works from around the world: 

An inside look at the Aquatics Centre at the Olympic Park in Stratford, the location of the London 2012 Olympic Games. The building was designed by Zaha Hadid. (Reuters/Toby Melville)
People visit the newly opened Galaxy Soho building, designed by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, in Beijing October 27, 2012. (Reuters/Jason Lee)
The Maxxi museum of contemporary art and architecture in Rome, designed by Zaha Hadid. (Reuters/Max Rossi)
A man and a boy walk outside the Heydar Aliyev Center, ahead of the European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, June 11, 2015. It was designed by Zaha Hadid. (Reuters/Stoyan Nenov)


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