Zaha Hadid's Most Iconic Buildings

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Zaha Hadid's Most Iconic Buildings
Zaha Hadid was born in Baghdad, studied in Beirut and London, and left an unforgettable trail of architectural gems around the world. Hadid, who passed away in Miami on March 31, 2016, had numerous more projects in the works, including the Al Wakrah Stadium in Qatar and a residence beside New York City’s High Line. The first woman to win architecture’s storied Pritzker Prize, she was a fearless force, with designs that range from a mountaintop museum in northern Italy to an ice-inspired railway station in Innsbruck, Austria. Here’s a look back at some of Hadid’s most iconic buildings.
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    VITRA FIRE STATION, 1993
    Just try to set your gaze on a particular aspect of this jagged marvel; it's nearly impossible. The concrete plane extending, rocket-like, from the building insistently pulls the eye. Will the rocket take off? It almost feels so—a credit to Hadid's uncanny ability to imbue her projects with a sense of perpetual motion. This was her first realized building—on the Vitra design campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany—and put Hadid on the international map.

    PHOTO BY CHRISTIAN RITCHER
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    THE LOIS AND RICHARD ROSENTHAL CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ART, 2003
    The New York Times called this Cincinnati museum "the most important American building to be completed since the end of the cold war." And yet, there's something playful about its misfit concrete panels. The building begs to be touched, like a gigantic, elegant Rubik's Cube. Inside, the variable shapes and ceiling heights reveal an endless array of perspectives, offering a different experience with each visit.

    PHOTO BY ROLAND HALBE
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    PHAENO SCIENCE CENTER, 2005
    Wacky figure eights overlap an elongated rectangle in one of Hadid's informal sketches of this building. The finished project is almost Brutalist, all finesse, and utterly adventurous. Set beside railroad tracks in in Wolfsburg, Germany, the interactive science center feels eerily at one with its urban surrounds. But its curvy innards are propulsive and immersive, toeing that fine line between delicate intrigue and in-your-face bravado that only Hadid could pull off.

    PHOTO BY WERNER HUTHMACHER
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    MAXXI: NATIONAL MUSEUM OF 21ST CENTURY ARTS, 2009
    Rome is no architectural slouch. Yet, Hadid managed to elevate the incomparable city's built environment with this progressive contemporary art museum. While it showcases her signature sense of movement, with a snake-like protrusion outside and wormy staircases inside, the building is perhaps most notable for its inclusivity. The blurred interior-exterior boundaries of MAXXI are enveloping—and disorienting in the best of ways—repeatedly knocking us off balance before situating us firmly in its grasp.

    PHOTO VIA WOJTEK GURAK/FLICKR
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    GUANGZHOU OPERA HOUSE, 2010
    This breathtaking concert hall was somewhat redemptive for Hadid—her mid-1990s design for Wales' Cardiff Bay Opera House won an international competition but never came to be. Guangzhou might not be the most inspiring of urban landscapes, but Hadid's creation could hardly be more refreshing. Taking cues from river valleys and streams, and their shape-shifting over time, the opera house has a glamorous natural fluidity that softens yet invigorates the city's fabric.

    PHOTO VIA TREVOR.PATT/FLICKR
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    THE LONDON AQUATIC CENTER, 2011
    Built for the 2012 Summer Olympics, this enchanting swimming facility is part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. While the building's inspiration—moving water—comes as little surprise, Hadid's interpretation is thrilling. The undulating concrete roof has the slow curve of a Brontosaurus neck, and the awesome power of an exploding ocean wave.

    PHOTO VIA ALLAN HARRIS/FLICKR
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    Heydar Aliyev Centre, 2013
    Tasked with creating a cultural venue for the increasingly glitzy city of Baku, Hadid designed this impossibly voluptuous stunner. With its dramatic swoops and folds leaping skyward and oozing horizontally, the building is pure pleasure and, like Baku itself, exudes optimism. The center was named Design of the Year by London's Design Museum in 2014, but has not escaped controversy, most notably for being named after a former dictator.

    PHOTO VIA ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK/FLICKR
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    WHAT’S NEXT . . .