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Wein Library and Learning Center Zaha Hadid

Farewell to an architectural visionary

Recently we wished an unexpected farewell to one of the most visionary architects of our time – perhaps of any time, in fact. On March 31 The Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid died of a heart attack while being treated for bronchitis in a Miami hospital.

Hadid was born on 31 October 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq, to an upper-class Muslim family, including her liberal politician father and artist mother. In the 1960s Hadid attended boarding schools in England and Switzerland. Hadid then moved to London in 1972 from Beirut – where she’d been studying mathematics – to study at the Architectural Association School of Architecture. Her professors included Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis, who she later worked for at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam, and became a partner in 1977. Through Koolhaas, she met Peter Rice, an engineer who gave her vital encouragement early on in her career.

A naturalised UK citizen, Zaha Hadid rose to be one of the most prominent and recognisable names in architecture, winning many awards, including being the first woman and the first Muslim to win the Pritzker prize, and the first woman to receive the RIBA’s royal gold medal.

She was showing no signs of slowing down or running low on ideas. The architect behind such iconic landmarks as the Italian MAXXI (Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo), Guangzhou Opera House and The London Aquatics Centre also had 13 ongoing projects spread throughout the world at the time of her death.

Image of Campus of the Vienna University of Economics and Business, Library and Learning Center taken by Bohringer Friedrich