April 1, 2016

May Her Legacy Inspire Us: “Rock Star” Designer Dies at 65.

zaha hadid, building

2016 will go down in history as a sad year for the arts.

Not only have we lost the world’s pioneering musician and an actor, we have now lost the world’s most powerful architect, too. Yesterday, Iraqi-born, UK-based designer and architect Zaha Hadid suffered a sudden heart attack in her office, Zaha Hadid Architects, in London.

This is shocking news; I still can’t believe the headlines I read this morning. Hadid was 65 and at the top of her career. She was a remarkable figure in architecture—a female pioneer whose name and signature are known around the globe. 

“The artist in architecture.” “Master.” “Queen.” “Larger than life.” “A rockstar.”

She was all of those things.

I live right next to one of Hadid’s landmark’s: The London Olympic’s Aquatic Centre. It’s fluid, futuristic and somehow hard to take in with the eye—it almost seems to move ceaselessly. I won’t even mention the word “swimming centre” here; it’s much more than that.

And I must say, it is the only beautiful modern building in my area. Something that fits into its context. That aspect is missing so often in modern, money-driven architecture, which is shaping capitals at lightning speed.

No matter what you think about her geometrical, sky-reaching buildings, you must appreciate the empire she created. She became a brand. She never wanted to be diminished by her gender or background.

The first woman ever to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize (think Nobel Prize of design), she was a living icon in her time.

Mostly, she was an inspiration for artists, creatives and architects alike.

For me, her career is an example, that yes, we can. We can be the change, we can reach our wildest visions and we must not give up on believing.

And mostly, we change the world by creating.

Let these quotes inspire us:

“You have to really believe not only in yourself; you have to believe that the world is actually worth your sacrifices.”

“I am non-European, I don’t do conventional work and I am a woman. On the one hand all of these things together make it easier—but on the other hand it is very difficult.”

“Yes I’m a feminist, because I see all women as smart, gifted and tough.”


R.I.P., Zaha Hadid, architect, artist and woman I will never forget.


Author: Sara Kärpänen

Editor: Toby Israel

Photo: Fortune Live Media / Flickr  & Gabriel Jorby / Flickr 


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