Zaha Hadid has sued the New York Review of Books. The complaint, filed last month in Manhattan Supreme Court, takes issue with a piece by architecture critic Martin Filler that allegedly mischaracterized her comments on the deaths of hundreds of migrant construction workers in Qatar, where she has designed a soccer stadium for the 2022 World Cup. According to Hadid’s lawyers, the article is a “personal attack disguised as a book review” of New York Observer architecture critic Rowan Moore’s Why We Build. It apparently quotes the Pritzker Prize winner as saying that architects “have nothing to do with the workers” and goes on to characterize her as being a generally uncaring and difficult person. The lawyers went on to point out that no workers have died on Hadid’s project, which, as a matter of fact, has yet to begin construction. The suit has stirred up quite a bit of activity on social media, including a tweet from Paul Goldberger, who said that the suit was unwise as it will earn Hadid a reputation as “the architect who sues critics.” The NYRB has since issued a retraction.
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When Frank Gehry’s renovation of the Philadelphia Museum of Art is complete, the iconic institution won’t necessarily look like one of his signature works—at least from the outside. The architect isn't touching the icon's Beaux-Arts exterior, but is, instead, transforming the museum’s interior to improve circulation and boost gallery space. But even then, Gehry’s work won’t be all that “Gehry.” AN recently toured the museum’s exhibit on Gehry’s masterplan and got a chance to hear from the man himself about the museum renovations. On the tour, Gehry explained how he reimagined the building’s interior with a distinctive signature, but one that is inspired by the building’s DNA. “I think if it’s built, you’ll know somebody like me was here,” he said. This renovation has been a long time coming. And it will be a long time still before it's finally realized. The idea to update the museum was born in the 1990s and completing Gehry’s entire overhaul could take 10–15 years more. “If they wait five years, I’ll be 90,” Gehry said. “So for me, get going.” Given his age, and his storied career, AN asked Gehry about what else he wants to accomplish. “I’m so superstitious,” he said before explaining that he wants to increase his involvement in arts education. He mentioned his participation in the Turnaround Arts initiative—a presidential program, which aims to close the achievement gap through arts and music education. He told a story about going into a school in California and teaching kids how to plan and imagine cities. Gehry added that children are often marginalized in “ghetto schools.” “That’s what I’m interested in, that kind of stuff," said Gehry. "I am also designing a sailboat." Which, of course seems entirely appropriate given his predilection for sailing. He does, after all, already own a boat called FOGGY, which stands for his initials: Frank Owen Gehry. These days, it seems, every starchitect needs a boat in his or her oeuvre. Hear that Zaha and Norman? Frank will see you at the regatta.
Despite coming in 3rd place in a design competition for a new Iraqi parliament center, Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid signed a deal last month with the Iraqi embassy to design a new parliament complex in Baghdad. According to Building Design, London firm Assemblage has confirmed they received the prize money of $250,000 for coming in first place, but will lose out on the billion dollar commission. Hadid was recently in Iraq to officially sign a contract for the project. Almost two years ago in August 2012 Assemblage was told they had won the competition by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) jury panel. The winning team consisted of London-based practice Assemblage, Adamson Associates, and engineer Buro Happold. Their design was commended to be highly navigable and received a score of 88 percent. The second place proposal was designed by Capita Symonds. RIBA jury member and former architecture minister, Alan Howarth, admitted in the summer of 2012 “there are rumors the Iraqis are taking their own decision,” according to BD. The RIBA judges gave Zaha Hadid's scheme a score of 76 percent—12 points lower than Assemblage. Details are sparse during the period of Zaha Hadid replacing Assemblage. First, over the two year span, Assemblage was never officially notified that they had lost the bid. Although, in private they knew they were frozen out of conversation. Second, leading Iraqi architectural critic Ihsan Fethi said there has been a veil of secrecy as he has tried several times to see the plan for the parliamentary building. Finally, the Iraqi Council of Representatives never had a chance to choose the winner selected by the RIBA judges. Despite the competition, the final decision was ultimately up to the Iraqis. "Obviously we selected a winner, therefore we would like to have seen it, but the client reserved the right to pick any of the top three and they have gone ahead and done that," Sunand Prasad, former RIBA president and competition juror told The Architect's Journal last November. Last year, Zaha Hadid Architects told the Guardian, "ZHA was made aware that the competition rules allow for any of the submitted design proposals to be selected for construction, irrespective of placement in the competition." "Like many things in Iraq, they start off on the right foot but don’t carry it with the transparency that’s required,” Peter Besley, director of Assemblage, told BD. The young firm is understandably upset by the loss of such a major commission. Besley told the Independent, "Given what happened in Cardiff, [where Hadid was outraged when her competition-winning opera house was refused funding] people are very surprised Zaha did not step aside." Hadid's parliament design will be built on a 123-acre former airport site in Baghdad and is expected to cost around one billion dollars. Her firm is also designing the Central Bank of Iraq tower pictured at top.
Speaking of controversy, Zaha Hadid can’t catch a break! Since her stadium design for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was unveiled, complaints have arisen about the scale and height of the project. Then two of Japan’s biggest architects—Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki—signed on to a petition calling for a revised design. As of press time more than 26,500 people have signed on to protest the design. Is someone’s star beginning to dim?
Brooklyn-based illustrator Paul Tuller was inspired to create a new poster-portrait series, Architecture As Crown, by his architect boyfriend. This series features illustrations of famous architect's wearing their most famous works on their heads. Beginning as a parody of Andy Warhol's God Save the Queen, the project includes such figures as Peter Eisenman wearing House I as a crown. Purchase your own posters here.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic has a thing for star architects. As part of a trilogy of Mozart operas directed by Gustavo Dudamel (himself a global celebrity), in 2012 Frank Gehry designed the set for Don Giovanni, in 2013 Jean Nouvel designed one for The Marriage of Figaro, and this month Zaha Hadid Architects has designed the backdrop for Così fan tutee, the trilogy's finale. The firm's curving white design, evocative of a skateboarding bowl (or a Corian sink?), is meant to represent a large sand dune on the Italian coast. It was called "shape-shifting" by the LA Times. Its steep inclines have presented challenges to performers, but they seem to be adapting in rehearsals. Shows begin on Friday. Costumes were created by British designer Hussein Chalayan, who, like Hadid, is known for edgy, tech-heavy designs. And the director, Christopher Alden, is also known for taking risks. It seems like a combination that should stir things up, and perhaps produce a template for still-rare collaborations across disciplines.
While much of the work introduced at Milan this year played it safe—distinctly conservative colors, forms familiar from the 1950s, cautious use of materials—some architects' designs took, shall we say, a bolder stance. But: Was it a better one? You, ever-opinionated reader, shall and no doubt will be the judge of that. Among the boldest of the bold designs this year were four pieces presented by Zaha Hadid. Most photos we've seen of the aluminum Manta Ray seating underscore its unfortunate semblance, not to the graceful sea creature, but to a giant human posterior. At AN, we're taking the high road, featuring this more abstracted view of the piece. But it may not be enough to erase the obvious imagery. Here, Hadid has designed a fireplace, which appears to have melted into a puddle of black marble. Ironically cold design, for an interiors element that generates heat. Thumbs up on this one. A rectangular top is a disciplined extension of the vaguely tripod-ish base. Great stone fabrication, and we wouldn't even mind bumping our knees on the legs of this terrific table. A welcome departure from the blobby, yes? But the mid-point of the unit seems to be a bit dysfunctional for shelving, lacking any level horizontal surfaces, but hey, it's all about the cantilever. Looking back on Salone 2014, it's interesting that one can fairly easily discern which pieces were architect-generated versus those that were created by industrial designers. The latter are trained (and paid) to produce commercially viable furniture collections, while the former are free to indulge in the making of domestic monuments.
LEGO Architecture has released a new box set—and from the looks of it, this isn't your grandmother’s architectural plaything. The new LEGO set is not the usual plastic-brick model of Rockefeller Center or the Empire State Building. No, this new set is cutting-edge. It goes where no other LEGO box set has gone before: it's a replica of an icon so iconic that it doesn’t even exist yet. It’s a limited-edition replica of the Bjarke Ingels–designed LEGO Museum in the company’s birthplace of Billund, Denmark. Spotted by John Hill at A Daily Dose of Architecture and selling on eBay for well over $100, the set also features what appears to be a shaggy-haired Bjarke Ingels figurine, which would place him in the company of Yoda, the Lone Ranger, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as icons that have also been shrunk to LEGO-sized proportions. Hill described the set as "LEGO imitating architecture imitating LEGO," a reference to BIG's clear inspiration for the LEGO House. A video-rendering of the project (above) might even double as an assembly guide for the LEGO Architecture Series set. The real LEGO House will be a blocky, 82,000-square-foot exhibition space designed to celebrate the toy’s history. BIG's real-life museum isn't projected to open until 2016, so if you buy the set now, you'll probably beat Bjarke to the finish line.
It’s a battle of the starchitects in Mexico City—and the Brits are leading the pack. Out of the seven finalists short-listed to design an expansion for the capital city's airport, Benito Juarez International, four hail from the UK: Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, and Pascall+Watson. They are joined in the final round by Teodoro González de León with Taller de Arquitectura X, SOM, and Gensler. All of these teams are being led by Mexican practices, and construction could begin later this year. The multi-billion dollar expansion should accommodate 40 million annual passengers at over 70 new gates. The airport's current cheese-grater-like facade in Terminal 2 was completed by Serrano Arquitectos in 2008. The envelope's many circular windows are used to maximize natural daylight within the terminal year round. [Via Architects' Journal]
Zaha Hadid has designed another seemingly-structurally-impossible parametric building form that is set to touch down in Macau in 2017. The building, which could be equally at home in Miami or Dubai, is a large block that has been punctured by three curvaceous openings. The entire mass is encased in an exposed exoskeleton that twists and turns along the structure's contours. The project was undertaken at the behest of Melco Crown Entertainment, casino magnates who have contributed the City of Dreams resort to the gambling-soaked Chinese island. The developers commissioned Hadid to create the fifth hotel located on the property, which will top out at 40 stories and house 780 rooms in over 1.6 million square feet of space. Other expected amenities include luxury retail, specialty restaurants, spa facilities, a roof-top pool, and a number of gaming areas. The external latticework varies in patterning as it crawls up the structure's facade. It is densest at its middle, where it navigates the irregularities of the design's central void, and becomes more elongated at each of the building's poles. The interior is more angular, awash in crystalline glass outcroppings subdivided by triangular grids. These walls collide with the curved base of the structure's opening to create a 130-foot central atrium that welcomes arriving visitors to the hotel. Construction for the newest member of the City of Dreams is already underway.
A Christmas tree ornament designed by Zaha Hadid currently on display in London restaurant aqua shard will be auctioned off for charity at the end of the year. The object hangs amongst 19 other ornaments designed by the "celebrity friends" of Matthew Williamson, a British fashion designer responsible for curating the tree. The proceeds generated by the subsequent sale of the items will go towards British charity Kids Company. The object replicates the futuristic aesthetic of Hadid's buildings on a micro-scale. According to the listing, it was "manufactured using rapid prototyping technology and materials" which would presumably make it unique amongst the assortment of more recognizable Christmas forms also included in the auction. This is not the first time Hadid has contributed a design to a fundraising effort of this type. Last month a Hadid-designed doll house garnered $22,000 for UK organization KIDS. No word yet on whether Hadid will design a separate ornament for a charitable cause responding to the slave labor and potential loss of life that may occur over the course of the construction of her stadium project for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Bids for the ornament will be accepted on ebay until December 31st. At the time of writing only the price of British photographer Rankin's Louboutinesque design tops that of the Hadid creation.
Form/Unformed: Design from 1960 to the Present The Dallas Museum of Art 1717 North Harwood Street Dallas, TX Extended through December 2014 The Dallas Museum of Art is celebrating the work of prolific designers and architects from the 1960s to the present with its first comprehensive design exhibition. Some of the featured designers include Robert Venturi, Frank Gehry, Aldo Rossi, Zaha Hadid, and Donald Judd. Drawn entirely from the Museum’s own collection, the exhibition reveals the evolution of forms and ideologies that have shaped international design over the last half century. “Several of the works on view are recent acquisitions that reflect the continuing expansion of the Museum’s decorative arts and design program to include historic American and European work, as well as contemporary objects of international significance,” said Bonnie Pitman, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art. From modern jewelry like The Golden Fleece, to iconic furniture, the exhibition spotlights the extraordinary work of some of the best designers of our time.