The Indomitable Zaha Hadid
Copyright Vladimir Kagan, October 6, 2015
There is no glass ceiling that can hold back Zaha Hadid – she has catapulted through shatterproof glass and is today, the best modern architect in the World. Zaha is a force to be reckoned with, the most creative architect in the 21st Century. She has out-curved Frank Gehry and Santiago Calvatava, the acknowledged masters of the genre. Zaha is the only woman to win the Pritzker award – the World Series of architecture. Awards have been piling up ever since.
She is not a computer doodler. Zaha draws. She visualized her creative concepts in sketches with bold curvilinear strokes. She is my friend and hero; she inspires my work and she tells me that I have inspired hers.
Zaha paints her concepts. Only after she is happy with the design does she interpreter them on the computer.
Top: Zaha's rendering for the Vitra fire station ca. 1991 Bottom: her concept for the KMR Art and Media Center in Dusseldorf Germany
She is worshiped for her lyrical curved stadiums, undulating museums and amorphous concert halls. She prefers horizontal to vertical architecture. Her sprawling lines are inspired by the topography of the rolling landscape. As a proponent of linear design, designing a high-rise building imposes limitations to her creativity. The Zaha Hadid most of you recognize today was not always curvilinear – before anyone heard of Zaha, her work was angular with sharp shards of concrete soaring skyward.
I met Zaha in the early 1990s when she was commissioned to design the fire station for the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhine, Germany. Vitra is an innovative Swiss company dedicated to classic modern furniture and accessories. The new building was radical and its interior disorienting. The good German bürger-firemen assigned to the building refused to work in it. Rolf Fehlbaum, Vitra’s owner got the message and immediately put it to a better use. He turned it into an adjunct of his fledgling Vitra Museum. This was Zaha’s first building and kick-started her career on the road to fame.
The Vitra Fire Station 1993, with its stark angular deconstructionist esthetic
Cincinnati's Contemporary Art Center 2003. A masterpiece of compact use of space, delineated with strong horizontal blocks of concrete interspersed with glass
In both these examples of her early work, Hadid's work is strongly angular
The Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg, Germany, was completed in 2005. It looks to me like a giant battleship at anchor.
By 2005, Zaha softened her lines with introductions of curves. the BMW Plant in Leipzig, Germany
Abandoning angles and radical slashing lines, Zaha created a soft amorphous shells for the Nordpark Rail Station in Innsbruck, Austria 2007
Interpreting a gentle wave breaking on shore, this is Zaha's famous Aquatic Centre in London 2011
The swimming pools and high-diving platform in the Aquatic Centre
By 2013 Zaha became totally lyrical. This undulating curved roof seems impossible to create in concrete and glass. The Heydar Allyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan
Pure sculpture dominates the interior of the center
Zaha was in New York last weekend for the New Yorker Festival, an annual event sponsored by the New Yorker Magazine. As usual, she took the architectural community by storm. The waiting line of people at the School Of Visual Art’s Theater on West 23rd Street stretched for one block around Eighth Avenue. John Seabrook, The New Yorker’s writer on design did a lively interview with Zaha, accentuating the depth of her commitments to complexity and precession. She explained how, with the use of fiber concrete she has been able to create seamless surfaces using vacuum bagging.
To design the Aquatic Centre for the London Summer Olympics, Zaha looked at the harbor and envisioned connecting water back into the city. Her vision was to create liquid space.
Her sprawling public spaces are inspired by flow and movement. She told us that one of her most complex project was the theatre, library and museum in Azerbaijan, integrating three separate functioning entities into one flowing movement.
One of Zaha's latest endeavor is the building of the parliament and central bank in Baghdad, her native home.
Zaha is finally adding her imprimatur to the New York skyline with an eleven story residential building on 520 West 28th Street, at the High Line in this rapidly gentrified Chelsea neighborhood. The building is a futuristic fantasy of 39 apartments with prices ranging from $4.5 million to $50 million!
520 West 28th Street
The facade undulates and there are definite Hadid touches but the limitations of a high-rise structure are apparent in this New York Condo.it lacks the grandeur of her free-flowing spirit
Zaha’s designs are super expensive to build. Are they cost effective? Was the Parthenon or Versailles? Zaha’s work is linear sculpture in motion that liberates design from the pull of gravity. It is a joy that in today’s budget conscious bean-counter society, there are visionaries willing to build a 21st Century Taj Mahal.
I Love this ski-jump tower in Austria
...and this amazing bridge (don't know whee it is)
Zaha's fertile mind does not limit her to concrete and glass, she has brought her creative esthetic to shoes, jewelry and furniture.
The sky is the limit for Zaha.