This morning I was speaking with my colleague, Eric Zollinger, who, like so many of us, was still reeling from the shocking death of architectural demigod Zaha Hadid. Concluding our conversation, he said, “I just read a tribute to her that pointed out that everything Zaha did was ahead of her time, even her passing—and I thought that was as simple as it was perfect.” I agreed.
Not unlike the work of other intergalactic giants who met with similarly premature deaths—Michael Jackson, Steve Jobs, John F. Kennedy—Zaha Hadid’s edifices are such astounding, earth-shattering eye candy that it’s deeply devastating to know that we’ll never see any of the fruits of her beautiful mind again.
I’ve always been partial to powerhouse women who come to rule male-dominated arenas and, through sheer talent and tenacity, move the world forward: Oprah Winfrey, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Martha Stewart, Madonna and, yes, Hillary Clinton all share the “can-do” quality Hadid so powerfully demonstrated via her life-altering buildings. In this era of “starchitects,” isn’t it amazing that Zaha Hadid was one of very, very few women in that category, and yet, arguably, the very, very best architect of them all?
Hadid’s most celebrated structures touch every corner of our planet and serve as delicious reminders of what architecture—and unencumbered genius—can accomplish. “Bridge Pavilion” (Zaragoza), “Guangzhou Opera House” (Guangzhou); “London Aquatics Center” (London); “Galaxy Soho” (Beijing); “Heydar Aliyev Cultural Center” (Baku) and, her first completed project, “Vitra Fire Station” (Weil am Rhein) are all masterpieces, each and every one. It’s as undeniable as it is extraordinary.
Despite the scores of documentaries, retrospectives and books chronicling the unlikely life of Zaha Hadid and her singular talent that will surely flood the zeitgeist in moments, we at ELLIMAN wanted to make sure that we paid our respects to a woman who tickled our collective senses so vividly and made our jaws drop in wonderment.
Thank you, Zaha Hadid. You were a giant. May you rest in peace.
BUILDING A LEGACY Some of Hadid’s masterpieces from around the world: (above, from top) Messner Mountain Museum Corones in South Tyrol, Italy; Guangzhou Opera House in Guangdong, China (photo by Virgile Simon Bertrand); Jockey Club Innovation Tower at Hong Kong Polytechnic University; London Aquatics Center.