Famed Architect Zaha Hadid Dies at 65 After Heart Attack in Miami

Famed Architect Zaha Hadid Dies at 65 After Heart Attack in Miami
Photo by Eager's Flickr CC2.0

Zaha Hadid, a pioneering architect who became the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2004, has died at the age of 65 following a heart attack in Miami. 

Born in Baghdad, Iraq, Hadid was educated in London and later became a naturalized resident of the United Kingdom. In recent years, she had become a part-time Miami resident. According to reports, she had developed bronchitis earlier this week and was admitted to a local hospital. She suffered a surprise fatal heart attack overnight. 

“It is with great sadness that Zaha Hadid Architects have confirmed that Dame Zaha Hadid, DBE, died suddenly in Miami in the early hours of this morning," read a statement from her architecture firm. 

Hadid had only recently brought her talents to Miami. She designed the One Thousand Museum building, a towering 60-story condo skyscraper with a distinct exoskeleton structure, which is under construction downtown. She had also drawn up plans for a sprawling, futuristic public parking garage in Miami Beach's Collins Park neighborhood, but the project has stalled due to budget concerns. 

Her installation, "Elastika," is also prominently displayed in the atrium of the Moore Building in the Design District, which is currently the temporary home of the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami. 

A rendering of One Thousand Museum on Miami's skyline.EXPAND
A rendering of One Thousand Museum on Miami's skyline.
via Zaha Haid Architects

She frequently reminded many that cut her commission rate at One Thousand Museum just for the chance to add to Miami's skyline. 

"We're charging not very much," she once said of the project. "It's a present from me."

She spent many holidays in the city and owned an apartment at the W in South Beach.

"I go there and I just chill out," she once told the Wall Street Journal. 

And she wasn't afraid to criticize the city's existing architecture. Notably, she disliked the design of the under-construction Frost Science Museum, which sits just across from the One Thousand Museum site.

"I really love Miami, but I don't think the architecture matches the city," she told the paper. "It's a bit too commercial."

One Thousand Museum is scheduled for completion in 2017. It will be one of the Hadid projects in North American, and her only skyscraper in the entire Western hemisphere. Hadid's work dots the globe. She was behind the London Aquatics Centre; the Innovation Tower in Hong Kong, the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, Azerbaijan; and Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati. 

Star architects taking their talents to South Florida has become common over the latest development boon. Fellow Pritzker Prize winners Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry, Norman Foster, Herzog & de Meuron, and Jean Nouvel all have projects planned, under construction, or recently completed in Miami. Perhaps none has brought as much buzz as Hadid. 

A rendering of Hadid's plans for a parking garage in Miami Beach.
A rendering of Hadid's plans for a parking garage in Miami Beach.
Image via Zaha Hadid Architects

She was at the top of the game, always innovative, and left the architecture world eagerly anticipating her next move. A blunt talker with a flair for fashion (word is she was one of the most frequent customers at the Design District's Maison Margiela boutique), she cut an imposing figure and was as famous a figure as an architect could be. 

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