Zaha Hadid, the first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize, died on Thursday in Miami at the age of 65. The Iraqi-born, London-based architect designed technically challenging, visually arresting buildings around the globe.
Hadid was best known for her public and institutional projects. To the many countries and cities that commissioned her sinuous, futuristic buildings, they became beacons of progress and culture.
The massive Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan, for instance, is more than 600,000 square feet and appears in state-sponsored promotional material for the city; her low-slung, kinetic Guangzhou Opera House in China was completed in 2010 and almost immediately became an icon of the city’s cultural resurgence.
Hadid’s career wasn’t without controversy. Most recently, her design for Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic stadium—originally approved by the government—was shelved and ultimately scrapped after a public furor over its $2 billion cost.
Cost overruns also plagued other buildings, including the Maxxi museum in Rome and a parking garage in Miami whose construction was eventually canceled.
Her career has flourished in the past decade. Currently, two major residential works are being constructed in the U.S. that will likely help define their respective neighborhoods: a building along the High Line, at 520 W. 28th St. in New York City (seen above), and a massive, 60-story building in Miami.
The architect was known for her colorful personality and innovative use of materials and technology.
“I’m not necessarily a minimalist,” she said in a 2015 interview with Bloomberg News. “But I think you have to make sure you use all of the elements that are actually available. Everyone’s idea of comfort is different.”