Peter Cook’s Obituary of Zaha Hadid

International Obit
Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects

Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects

THE MEMORY OF ZAHA

Zaha : the Great Light extinguished.
From every point of view exceptional :
As a direct, original, fearless personality.
With a more than adequate supply of charm and humour.
Used with more discretion than blandness.
IMMENSE talent.
Such that it either inspired, bewildered, or caused deep jealousy (that manifest itself in lesser talent to pick away at her motives, reputation or personality)

Serpentine Sackler Gallery (Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects)

Serpentine Sackler Gallery (Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects)

Thirteen years ago, the other Giant : Cedric Price, died.
Different animal, but leaving a similar void.

London – and the architecture world – now seems lost : we are now berift of that most precious and mysterious quality : power through inspiration and talent plus bags of personality that
rendered both of them as beacons of hope for architecture.

‘Sticking to one’s guns’ is an amazing gift.

Zaha Hadid's MAXXI in Rome (Helene Binet)

MAXXI in Rome (Helene Binet)

Zaha told it as it is : she had the priority of a clear, powerful and ever-poetic architecture.
Many tried to copy it but lacked her deftness of line.
And the line was MORE than a line : it so easily and frequently resulted in a spatial
exploration of extraordinary newness : the wonder of the interior of the Alyev Centre in Baku remains in one’s mind as a dream. The sharp, clean, razor-like dart of the Vitra Fire Station has the
purity of an ‘early period’ Zaha building – but you’re actually inside it, living the dream of the drawing.

From the first years when this conspicuously talented recent student became the lively attachment to Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis’ young OMA setup, you were aware of a strength of talent bursting out.

Her trajectory and example stands there beckoning the many women (now maybe a majority) who work in architecture : if she can do it, they can do it . Let’s hope one or two of them out there can blend talent with personality – the latter gift being a necessary factor in order to sustain the pressure in this, most contrary, profession.

A loyal friend who could also be a good laugh.

Peter Cook
4.1.16

Zaha Hadid's Evelyn Grace Academy. (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

Evelyn Grace Academy. (Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects)

Editor’s note: This piece will also appear in The Architectural Review.

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