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The profession pays tribute to Zaha Hadid

Tributes from the profession have flooded in for Zaha Hadid following her sudden death at the age of 65

Peter Cook

‘Zaha: the Great Light extinguished. From every point of view exceptional: as a direct, original, fearless personality. With a more than adequate supply of charm and humour. Used with more discretion than blandness. IMMENSE talent. Such that it either inspired, bewildered, or caused deep jealousy (that manifest itself in lesser talent to pick away at her motives, reputation or personality).

Thirteen years ago, the other Giant: Cedric Price, died.

Different animal, but leaving a similar void.

London – and the architecture world – now seems lost: we are now berift of that most precious and mysterious quality: power through inspiration and talent plus bags of personality that rendered both of them as beacons of hope for architecture.

Sticking to one’s guns is an amazing gift.

Zaha told it as it is: she had the priority of a clear, powerful and ever-poetic architecture.

Many tried to copy it but lacked her deftness of line.

And the line was MORE than a line: it so easily and frequently resulted in a spatial exploration of extraordinary newness: the wonder of the interior of the Alyev Centre in Baku remains in one’s mind as a dream. The sharp, clean, razor-like dart of the Vitra Fire Station has the purity of an ‘early period’ Zaha building – but you’re actually inside it, living the dream of the drawing.

From the first years when this conspicuously talented recent student became the lively attachment to Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis’ young OMA setup, you were aware of a strength of talent bursting out. 

Her trajectory and example stands there beckoning the many women (now maybe a majority) who work in architecture : if she can do it, they can do it. Let’s hope one or two of them out there can blend talent with personality – the latter gift being a necessary factor in order to sustain the pressure in this, most contrary, profession.

A loyal friend who could also be a good laugh.’ 

Brett Steele, director, AA School 

‘Zaha: No architect in the world had the affect you did on AA students, graduates, colleagues or other architects. Here, there or anywhere. You always knew this was your greatest talent amongst so many others: the ability to change other architectural minds in a time when that grows increasingly improbable.

Amazingly, for a person filled with unswerving opinion, this was also one of the very few things you never commented upon, uttered a word about, or hinted an explanation for.

You lit rooms, presentations and conversations a thousand different ways, as if one of your paintings. You wrote lightening-speed late-night text messages as if miniature, instantaneous 21st century manifestos.

Everyone everywhere today is remembering you this first day of April, this first day after you by sharing pictures posting stories uploading links adding comments trading memories reminding each other of you with versions of your buildings and your drawings and your paintings and your words. Which no one else could have imagined, let alone could have made. Like you did, with such ease. Thank you.

You always knew your architecture was planetary from the start. Thanks for having the patience to let architecture catch up. It will hurt not having you in the future you always cared so much about. We all will love you the way you loved architecture – in that future. Your future. Forever, Brett’

David Adjaye, founder, Adjaye Associates

‘The rise of Zaha Hadid has been an uplifting, inspirational story, and I have long delighted in following her architecture and her work. She created a new language of form, drawing on her own force of spirit and distinct vision – her indomitable character – so present in her buildings. Her sudden and untimely departure leaves a chasm in the profession. She will be missed for her wit, her fearless bearing, her warmth and of course her brilliance – although I have no doubt that her work offers a valuable legacy that will continue to inspire and delight us as this century unfolds.’

Jane Duncan, RIBA president

‘This is absolutely terrible news. Zaha Hadid was an inspirational woman, and the kind of architect one can only dream of being. Visionary and highly experimental, her legacy despite her young age, is formidable. She leaves behind a body of work from buildings to furniture, footwear and cars, that delight and astound people all around the world. It was only last month that I had the enviable task of awarding Zaha the 2016 Royal Gold Medal for architecture – she was delighted to receive the recognition and adds the medal to an amazing collection of awards, not least winning the RIBA Stirling Prize two years running. The world of architecture has lost a star today.’

Bob Sheil, director, The Bartlett School of Architecture

‘The world has lost a true visionary. She was an extraordinary artist. Her work has become associated with technology, but really it extends from her experiments with drawing, painting and space. She was way ahead of her time; always ahead of her time.’

Odile Decq, founder, Studio Odile Decq

‘The first Grande Dame de l’architecture and a great figure in many ways. She has opened so many doors for women in architecture. She has become free and without any fear after having been forced to fight against sexist attitudes. Her architecture reveals her own freedom.’

John McAslan, executive chairman, John McAslan + Partners

‘This is devastating and tragic news. Zaha Hadid was a phenomenal force in the world of architecture. An incredible character – brilliant, fearless, and irreplaceable.’

Tom Pritzker, chairman of the Hyatt Foundation

‘Zaha represented the highest aspirations of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. She combined her vision and intellect with a force of personality that left no room for complacency. She made a real difference.’ 

Peter Palumbo, chair of the jury of the Pritzker Architecture Prize

‘The world of culture has lost a standard-bearer for the art of architecture. Zaha Hadid fought prejudice all her life with great success. And this, in addition to her genius as an architect, will secure her legacy for all time.’

Sally Stewart, reader and deputy head, Mackintosh School of Architecture at The Glasgow School of Art

‘The news of Zaha Hadid’s death is very shocking and unexpected. 

Zaha was one of the most significant architects of our time, not only for the architecture she conceived of and aspired to produce, but also for her sheer force of will in challenging the expectations of the architecture a woman might produce. 

Elegant, impossible, often difficult, her work always provoked a response, and experiencing it at first hand was often surprising and rewarding. 

Perhaps more than anyone else today she has inspired more students to study architecture and to imagine design and architecture differently. 

The RIBA Gold Medal award to her reflects her position both in the UK and internationally, and goes some way to recognise the influence she has had in changing the language of architectural form. 

Our wishes must be with her colleagues and family, with the hope that they will be able to continue to realise her ideas and consolidate her legacy.’

Ken Shuttleworth, founder, Make

’A light has gone out in the world of architecture. Zaha was a vibrant, distinctive and innovative woman whose personality and incredible body of work have left an indelible footprint on the world. Her legacy speaks for itself, and the design world will be distinctly dulled by her loss. She was a trailblazer in all respects, from creating wholly new forms to breaking through the glass ceiling, leading the way for so many to follow. Her many impressive accolades and international recognition speak to her legendary talent, passion and drive. I know I speak for many when I say her absence will be felt deeply.’