Zaha Hadid: One of TIME Magazine's Top 100 Most Influential People

Zaha-Hadid-BMWWill Iraqi Architect Hadid Use Her Star Power to Demand More Environmental and Social Responsibility? [image via bighugelabs]

Much of the news coming from Iraq is fraught with environmental and human tragedy.  Water is so scarce the country has to beg from its neighbors for help, and everywhere there is destruction and war.  This makes it our pleasure to finally share good news: an Iraqi glitterati, the Donna Karan of architecture, rises above the headlines and dismal statistics.  A former recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize and anointed one of TIME magazine’s top 100 most influential people in 2010, Zaha Hadid spread her wings and landed all over the world.

She was born in Bagdad in 1950.  She tells Jonathan Glancey from The Guardian how memories of the beautiful landscape of Southern Iraq, “where sand, water, reeds, birds, buildings and people all somehow flowed together” influences her work.

She left Iraq to study at the American University of Beirut, where she received a degree in mathematics, and then studied at the Architectural Association School of Architecture before taking her first position at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture.

Now many years later, after holding guest positions at prestigious universities such as Columbia, Harvard, and Yale, and with a staff of 150, Hadid has designed fire stations, art museums, ski jumps, and opera houses from Germany to the United States and Dubai.


[image via flickr]

Donna Karan and Hadid are mutually enamored.  The fashion designer says that Hadid’s buildings “are like a gust of wind – organic, forceful and utterly natural.”

Incorporating undulating lines and defying convention, Hadid’s portfolio certainly demands attention.

But unless it is considered natural to spend £242 million on an aquatic center for the 2012 Olympic Games, for example, we can’t agree that it is natural.  Even Hadid realizes this.  She tells Glancey that she wishes that “it was possible to divert some of the effort we put into ambitious museums and galleries into the basic architectural building blocks of society,” that she could build “schools, hospitals, [and] social housing.”

Instead, she is “moving into towers,” according to her website.


[image via flickr]

Perhaps it is a generational issue.  Hadid came into architecture in the seventies, at a time when, even though scientists knew better, the rest of us still believed that the mighty earth’s resources are inexhaustible.

Therefore, she has spent her entire career allowing her futuristic imagination free reign with little thought to the environmental consequences of her ambition.

It is only recently that her team has begun to explore more sustainable design methods.

In the meantime, what has she taught the hundreds of architecture students that have shuffled in and out of her classrooms?

What tools has she given them to re-think building priorities?  If she can’t imagine a way to divert funds to more meaningful and life-sustaining causes, then what will her students do?


[image via flickr]

:: via The Guardian

Read  More About Socially Responsible Architecture:
The Best of Buckminster Fuller 2010 Finalists
Green Building in Iran: The “Bagdir” Windcatchers of Yadz
Tareq Emtairah’s Practical Eco-House in Aqaba, Jordan

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