Zaha Hadid, renowned for her theoretical work, created designs that were so complex that for the first few decades of her practice, many of her more ambitious projects were never realized, even as she gained a dedicated following among her colleagues.
Her completed projects include the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan (2013); Guangzhou Opera House in China (2010); the London Aquatics Center, built for the 2012 Olympic Games; Maxxi, a contemporary art museum in Rome (2009); the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati (2003); and the Vitra Fire Station in Weil Am Rhein, Germany (1993).
Ms. Hadid was in many ways a path breaker. Along with being the first woman to win the Pritzker, she was the first to be awarded the RIBA Gold Medal, Britain’s top architecture prize, which came in 2015.
She was also a role model and inspiration for generations of young architects, men and women, who wanted to become Ms. Hadid: an architect of boundless ambition, a celebrity, and an artist with big ideas who won commissions for some of the world’s big, flashiest projects by the sheer force of her intelligence, creativity and personality.
Ms. Hadid epitomized an era when architects became global brands. Her brand promised buildings of extravagant sculptural invention, spectacles of curving, swooping, unprecedented forms. She represented the epitome of the art of so-called parametric design, by which architects, aided by sophisticated computer programs, could animate buildings into new shapes.