Influential 'Queen of Curves' Architect Is Dead

Zaha Hadid dead from sudden heart attack at the age of 65
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2016 2:25 PM CDT
Influential 'Queen of Curves' Architect Is Dead
In this March 21, 2004, file photo, Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid poses in West Hollywood, Calif.   (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian, File)

Zaha Hadid, the literally and metaphorically groundbreaking architect who reshaped the design landscape with what the New York Times describes as "buildings of extravagant sculptural invention, spectacles of curving, swooping, unprecedented forms," died at the age of 65 in Miami on Thursday. Hadid had been taken to a local hospital for bronchitis earlier this week and suffered a sudden heart attack while she was being treated there, per a statement from her London office. Known as the "Queen of Curves" for her "signature flowing style," Business Insider notes, she was the only female architect to ascend to the ranks of what Quartz labels as her profession's elite "starchitects" group. The Iraqi-born Brit was known for her designs for, among others, the London Aquatic Center (a 2012 Olympics venue), China's Guangzhou Opera House, and Cincinnati's Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art.

Hadid was the first woman to ever take home the Pritzker Prize, the architecture world's highest honor, and was also the first woman to receive Britain's esteemed RIBA Gold Medal. The Times points out that Hadid's designs were often not the most practical (nor the cheapest): Her plans for the 2020 Olympics' main venue in Tokyo had to be ditched after anticipated costs blew up to around $2.5 billion, more than double the original estimate. But she came up during a time when architects morphed into celebrities, and she was one of the hottest and most imaginative of them all, cranking out such complicated theoretical designs in the beginning of her career that they were never able to be brought to fruition. "Each new project is more audacious than the last and the sources of her originality seem endless," the Pritzker jury wrote upon awarding her its prize in 2004. (Check out pics of her most well-known works at Business Insider and Quartz.)

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