Women who changed Architecture
2012, the Jane Drew Prize
Zaha Hadid awarded the Jane Drew Prize for her outstanding contribution to the status of women in architecture
The award was initially introduced in 1998 as a tribute to Jane Drew, the modernist English architect and town planner. It is awarded for respect of innovation, diversity – extending traditional categories valued in architecture – and inclusiveness – collaborative work – and is open to both men and women.
More than half of the women polled in the AJ Women in Architecture survey named Hadid as having made the greatest contribution to the status of women in architecture.
The judges said: ‘Hadid has broken the glass ceiling more than anyone and is practically a household name. Her achievement is remarkable. She has successfully fostered a studio which has grown to be one of the top ten largest in the UK. The practice manages to be at the cutting edge of thinking, influencing the teaching in architecture schools worldwide, while also winning and delivering an impressive array of projects, from the London Olympic Aquatics Centre to the Guangzhou Opera House.’
Hadid said: ‘Getting to where I am is hard. But it is do-able. Women architects do need some support from others who have made that journey.’
زها حديد Zahā Ḥadī
Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid DBE RA , Arabic: زها حديد Zahā Ḥadīd
(31 October 1950 – 31 March 2016)
Zaha Hadid was born on 31 October 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq, to an upper class Iraqi family. Her father, Muhammad al-Hajj Husayn Hadid, was a wealthy industrialist from Mosul. He co-founded the left-liberal al-Ahali group in 1932. The group was a significant political organisation in the 1930s and 1940s. He was the co-founder of the National Democratic Party in Iraq and served as minister of finance after the overthrow of the monarch after the 1958 Iraqi coup d’état for the government of General Abd al-Karim Qasim. Her mother, Wajiha al-Sabunji, was an artist from Mosul while her brother Foulath Hadid was a writer, accountant and expert on Arab affairs. In the 1960s Hadid attended boarding schools in England and Switzerland.
Hadid studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut before moving, in 1972, to London to study at the Architectural Association School of Architecture.There she studied with Rem Koolhaas, Elia Zenghelis and Bernard Tschumi. Her former professor, Koolhaas, described her at graduation as “a planet in her own orbit.” Zenghelis described her as the most outstanding pupil he ever taught. ‘We called her the inventor of the 89 degrees. Nothing was ever at 90 degrees. She had spectacular vision. All the buildings were exploding into tiny little pieces.” He recalled that she was less interested in details, such as staircases. “The way she drew a staircase you would smash your head against the ceiling, and the space was reducing and reducing, and you would end up in the upper corner of the ceiling. She couldn’t care about tiny details. Her mind was on the broader pictures—when it came to the joinery she knew we could fix that later. She was right.’ Her fourth-year student project was a painting of a hotel in the form of a bridge, inspired by the works of the Russian suprematist artist Kazimir Malevich.
After graduation in 1977, she went to work for her former professors, Koolhaas and Zenghelis, at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Through her association with Koolhaas, she met the architectural engineer Peter Rice, who gave her support and encouragement. Hadid became a naturalised citizen of the United Kingdom. She opened her own architectural firm, Zaha Hadid Architects, in London in 1980.
She then began her career teaching architecture, first at the Architectural Association, then, over the years at Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge University, the University of Chicago, the Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Columbia University. She earned her early reputation with her lecturing and colourful and radical early designs and projects, which were widely published in architectural journals but remained largely unbuilt. Her ambitious but unbuilt projects included a plan for Peak in Hong Kong (1983), and a plan for an opera house in Cardiff, Wales, (1994). The Cardiff experience was particularly discouraging; her design was chosen as the best by the competition jury, but the Welsh government refused to pay for it, and the commission was given to a different and less ambitious architect. Her reputation in this period rested largely upon her teaching and the imaginative and colourful paintings she made of her proposed buildings. Her international reputation was greatly enhanced in 1988 when she was chosen to show her drawings and paintings as one of seven architects chosen to participate in the exhibition “Deconstructivism in Architecture” curated by Philip Johnson and Mark Wigley at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
Official website: http://www.zaha-hadid.com/