“It’s hard to name a category that Zaha Hadid has not made her indelible mark upon: architecture, art, yachts, furniture, housewares, jewelry, footwear, swimwear,” or so began our October 2014 Homes & Estates coverage of Dame Zaha Hadid, who sadly passed away on March 31, 2016. This statement was not hyperbole. Regarded as the greatest female architect in the world, the acclaimed architect changed skylines — and the idea of what contemporary design could be. She was 65.
“For three decades now, she has ventured where few would dare,” wrote Sir Peter Cook when Hadid was honored with RIBA’s 2016 Royal Gold Medal — she was the first woman to be awarded the prestigious honor. “If Paul Klee took a line for a walk, then Zaha took the surfaces that were driven by that line out for a virtual dance and then deftly folded them over and then took them out for a journey into space.”
When Hadid was named to Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” list in 2010, fashion designer Donna Karan wrote: “However you view her work, Zaha is a visionary. Her style is legendary now and completely original. Whether it’s a building or a sofa, you know you’re experiencing a unique, individual expression.”
Born in Baghdad in 1950, Hadid studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut before starting her architectural journey in 1972 at the Architectural Association in London. By 1979 she had established her own practice in London – Zaha Hadid Architects – garnering a reputation across the world for her ground-breaking theoretical works including The Peak in Hong Kong (1983), the Kurfürstendamm in Berlin (1986) and the Cardiff Bay Opera House in Wales (1994). She became the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004; and twice won the UK’s most prestigious architecture award, the RIBA Stirling Prize.
Neo-futuristic and highly experimental, her architecture transformed our notions of the future with new spatial concepts and visionary forms. From the sculpted crystalline Guangzhou Opera House in China to the intertwined galleries of the Maxxi art museum in Rome and the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympic Games, her work was often characterized by graceful curves inspired by nature. Her buildings never ceased to amaze and inspire us, even now. Her contribution to design, to pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo will be missed, and virtually irreplaceable.
In honor of her groundbreaking legacy, we decided to take a closer look at her first residential building in New York City, 520 West 28th Street, which is slated to open in 2017. Rest in peace, Zaha Hadid.
The highly anticipated 11-story building is a series of 39 luxury condos located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood next to the High Line Park. The statement-making architecture — defined by an elegant hand-rubbed metal façade driven by one continuous line that loops skyward — represented a landmark departure from the standard hard-angled architecture of the city. The property’s levels are interlaced by two- to five-bedroom loft-like residences spanning approximately 2,000 to 5,800 square feet, each a model of Hadid’s vision for modern living. “Residents become immersed in Hadid’s fluid world,” according to the building’s website. “The interiors integrate seamlessly into the sculpted nature of the building’s exterior, creating one monumental piece of art.” Boffi kitchens, Gaggenau appliances, 11-foot ceilings, thoughtful technological integration and Hadid-designed features such as curvilinear kitchen islands inside the residences add intrigue and touches of sophistication at every turn.
Many of the apartments will also feature deep-set balconies, some of which will perch directly above the High Line’s greenery. Privacy, exclusivity and rich services will be in abundance at 520 West 28th Street. Future residents can also splash in a 75-foot sky-lit pool, which will be tucked below ground with a private spa suite and gym. There’s also a private IMAX theater, secured parking portal and secured viewing room. A 2,500-square-foot sculpture deck will be situated alongside the building, with art presented by the Friends of the High Line, and a gallery in its commercial space.
Hadid’s architecture “is an optimistic view of the future,” Gregory Gushee, an executive vice president of the Related Companies, the developer, told the New York Times last year. “Basically, it’s sculpture.”
This is also not hyperbole. All of Zaha Hadid’s buildings — curving forms rendered in concrete and steel— are living sculptures that will endure for generations to come.