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Zaha Hadid

Vitra Fire Station, 1993, Weil am Rhein, Germany. Photo: Christian Richters. © Zaha Hadid Architects.

IN 1972, I was a young teacher at the Architectural Association in London, and Zaha was a student. We have been friends ever since. At that time, the AA felt more like a club than a school. It was a period of ferment. There was a rejection of the commercial world, of the way architecture was becoming an establishment practice. Looking back, we were realizing that there were different kinds of modernism. There was the corporate version—say, SOM—which was everywhere by that point, and had been adopted by all the big companies for their buildings. We didn’t believe that was architecture. Instead, it was a time of rediscovering the Russians, modernists outside the canon, and Le Corbusier, who still seemed completely avant-garde.

So the 1970s were a period of rediscovery for architecture, and Zaha was a crucial part of that. She didn’t comply with accepted ways of doing things.

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