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Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid Architects, Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, 2014, American University of Beirut. Photo: Hufton Crow. © Zaha Hadid Architects.

PERHAPS MORE THAN any other architect of our time, Zaha Hadid was celebrated for the visible power of her forms. But to applaud only her spirals, wedges, folds, and ramps, no matter how luxuriant or stunning, reduces her full achievement, obscuring a quality shared by all great architecture—namely, that it deals with concepts and ideas that underlie what we perceive. Hadid frequently claimed that her work was misunderstood. The following remarks, addressing both the architectural (“Hadid”) and the personal (“Zaha”), configure an unusual talent and qualify a specific and significant moment in the evolution of architectural thought.

The ground as an urban material: The ground establishes a new urban condition. Unlike in the modernist approach, which freed the ground by lifting the building above it on pilotis, in Hadid’s projects the ground is first and foremost an artificial

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