Zaha Hadid, The "Lady Gaga Of Architecture," Dies At 65

Photo: Steve Double/Camera Press/Redux.
The BBC reports that Zaha Hadid — one of the world's most famous architects — has died unexpectedly at age 65, following a heart attack. The first woman ever to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize (the profession's most prestigious award), the London-based talent made a formidable name for herself with a bold, abstract style that earned her nicknames like "queen of the curve" and "the Lady Gaga of architecture."

As an Iraqi-born woman working in a field dominated by white men, Hadid occupied a unique position. “I think you’re displaced — they don’t expect you to do things like a guy does," she told Newsweek in 2011. "So they give you a certain freedom, but whether they accept what you do is another story... They couldn’t pigeonhole me: I was crazy; the work was crazy; I was Iraqi; I’m a woman.”

Hadid also recognized that by embracing her otherness, she could help open doors for the next generation: "I used to not like being called a 'woman architect,'" she explained in a CNN interview. "I'm an architect, not just a woman architect. Guys used to tap me on the head and say, 'You are okay for a girl.' But I see the incredible amount of need from other women for reassurance that it could be done, so I don't mind that at all."

Among her most famous buildings are the London Olympic Aquatic Centre, the Maxxi Museum in Rome, and Guangzhou Opera House in China. She also designed a handbag-inspired mobile pavilion for Chanel in 2008, and one of the stadiums that will house 2022's World Cup games in Qatar.

Regardless of the type project, Hadid's work always resulted in structures that are incredibly forward-thinking, a little over-the-top, and very, very memorable. Her main objective? To allow people to "experience things they wouldn’t otherwise," as she told Newsweek. "Whether it’s a good school, or a nice museum, or a concert hall, or having a nice street or street furniture or a lamp, I think all these things need to be very inspiring.”
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