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Zaha Hadid 1950 – 2016

On March 31st, 2016 the world lost one of the foremost architects and pioneers in the industry. Zada Hadid was just 65 years old when she passed away from a heart attack, but she managed to live an extraordinary life that made her one of the most unique architects who ever lived.

The work of Zaha Hadid over her lifetime was truly remarkable. She brought a zest for style and beauty that was unlike anything seen before in the design of buildings. Her accomplishments are many and her followers a growing part of the architect community. What impressed me most about her work was the fearlessness of her work in abandoning the standard geometry of architecture to create sweeping, fluid visions that reflects modern life.

Her story is one that has garnered considerable interest and her accomplishments will inspire architects for many years to come.


The Story of Zaha Hadid

Born on October 31st, 1950 into an upper-class Muslim family in Baghdad, Iraq, Zaha’s father was a very wealthy industrialist who came from Mosul and co-founded the al-Ahali group in 1932. He later co-founded the National Democratic Party in Iraq while her mother was a noted artist who had travelled abroad. Perhaps it was the combination of influences that inspired Zaha to pursue her own future as an architect.

Like her parents, Zaha also saw much of the world in her younger days, studying mathematics at the American University of Beirut before moving to London in 1972 and studying at the Architectural Association School of Architecture. Her talents were immediately noticed after her graduation by her now former professors. She worked for them in the Office of Metropolitan Architecture located in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Although she faced many challenges as a woman in a male-dominated field, her talents were encouraged by those like Rem Koolhaas and Peter Rice, an engineer who helped guide her career and provide some of the confidence needed for her to succeed.


Zaha’s Career Takes Off

Thanks to the support she receive, but mostly through her own drive and determination, Zaha established her own architecture practice in London in 1980 and over the next several years started earning more respect and admiration for her work. However, it was the exhibition called “Deconstructivism in Architecture” in 1988 that really broke out her work. A submission of some of her drawings were put on display at the New York Museum of Modern Art during the exhibition which garnered considerable acclaim for the beauty, power, and originality of her designs.

By this time, Zaha had taught at the Harvard Graduate School of design and achieved a Kenzo Tange Professorship in the Architectural Association. By the turn of the 1990s, her teaching career in the field of architecture was growing by leaps and bounds thanks to serving as a guest professor at various universities around the world


Zaha’s Work Comes to Life

At this point, Zaha began doing various high profile work that garnered her considerable attention and fame thanks to her vibrant, beautiful designs that captured the imagination of all those who saw what she could accomplish. She created the notable Mind Zone at the Millennium Dome in London and showed her hand at furniture design at Home House, a private members club located in Marylebone, and even crafted a design for a three-wheeled vehicle, the Z.Car which is hydrogen powered. In addition, Zaha impressed everyone with her fashion designs as part of her association with Locoste, a clothing brand. There was seemingly no limit to her work or incredible designs that flowed across different landscapes. Her vibrant imagination combined with her extensive training in mathematics to make her bold, fierce designs a reality. While she enjoyed considerable success in these fields, it was architecture that ultimately gave her the best platform of her imagination.


The Works of Zaha Hadid

There are numerous projects that were completed in her lifetime as well as ongoing projects that will be developed from her designs over the next several years. Here is a partial list of some of the most inspired and important works from Zaha Hadid.
•    Bergisel Ski Jump, Innsbruck, Austria
•    Hotel Puerta America, Madrid, Spain
•    BMW Central Building, Leipzig Germany
•    Vitra Fire Station, Weil am Rhein, Germany
•    Ordrupgaard Annex, Copenhagen, Denmark
•    Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, American University of Beirut, Lebanon
•    Maggie’s Centres, Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, Scotland
•    Chanel Mobile Art Pavilion
•    R. Lopez De Heredia Wine Pavilion, Haro, La Rioja, Spain
•    Bridge Pavilion, Zaragoza, Spain
•    London Aquatics Centre, 2012 Summer Olympics, London, England
•    Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
•    Pierresvives, Montpellier, France
•    Guangzhou Opera House, Guangzhou, People’s Republic of China
•    MAXXI: National Museum of 21st Century Arts, Rome, Italy
•    CMA CGM Tower, Marseilles, France
•    Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, Michigan, USA
•    Library and Learning Center, Vienna University of Economics and Business
•    Roca London Gallery, London, England
•    Evelyn Grace Academy, Brixton, London, England
•    Mandarin Oriental, Dellis Cay, Turks & Caicos Islands
•    King Abdullah Petroleum Studies & Research Center, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
•    Citylife Office Tower, Milan, Italy
•    Jockey Club Innovation Tower, Hong Kong
•    Napoli Afragola Railway Station, Italy
•    Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul, South Korea
•    Salerno Maritime Terminal, Salerno, Italy

Zaha’a remarkable wealth of designs is only partially complete as a number of them that are still being constructed or pending remain to be brought into this world. However, for her great gifts at architecture, there are five personal favorites of mine that stand out from the rest.


Five of My Favorite Zaha Works
Of the many works that she accomplished in her lifetime, there are some that rank as the most remarkable of her career and inspiration for architects to think outside the box when it comes to fashioning designs. Her greatest strength was the ability to channel her interior vision into reality and creating something that had never been seen before. Plus, far from being impractical or simply odd designs, Zaha managed to make them leap to life in a manner that was both dreamlike and grounded in reality. They defied the standards of our time, yet they became inspirations for architects of today and tomorrow to learn and reach into their own interior visions that truly make them special.



Heydar Aliyev Cultural Centre, Baku, Azerbaijan: While much of Zaha’s work is defined by straight and angular lines, this particular building is noted for its curved, wave-like appearance. With sections that seem to bubble up like a wave forming on the ocean, this remarkable design is one that inspires real beauty. There is a pleasant, clean appearance to this incredible design that is certainly one of her most eye-catching.


Libraryand LearningCenter

Library and Learning Center, Vienna, Austria: Another astounding work, this one seems to leap right from a dream as most of the building appears to be stacks or layers built from the ground up to carry the large section that almost teeters over the side. Striking, beautiful, and marvelous to behold, this is certainly one of the most stunning works from Zaha’s vivid imagination.



Phaeno Science Center, Wolfsburg, Germany: Sharp angles and bold design are a part of Zaha’s trait when it comes to architectural originality and this work follows those lines beautifully. It truly stands out for its unique shape and vibrant design.



Riverside Museum, Glasgow, Scotland: The wave-like structure of the walls that help make up this museum stand as a testament to Zaha’s own interior vision and making it a reality. The result is a sweeping accomplishment that is simply one of the most breathtaking of her career.



Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati, Ohio: Completed in 2003, this particular work is very inspiring not only because it is Zaha Hadid’s first design constructed in the United States, but also because of the simple, unique nature of the building itself. It is a work of art thank to the unique structures that create separate environments within a single, uniform design. This work is very special and brought out Zaha’s talent for her dream-like vision grounded in mathematical reality as it flows evenly.

All of these works and the many more that bless the Earth came from her active imagination that was grounded in mathematical reality. However, it must be noted that new, more flexible materials and improved construction techniques paved the way for many of her visions to become reality. While they must be recognized for the contribution to the success of Zaha’s designs, it was still her vibrant imagination that brought them into our world.

We lost Zaha Hadid at the way-too-young age of 65 from a sudden heart attack as she was being treated in a Miami hospital. However, while she is no longer on this Earth to create even more of her marvelous works, what she has accomplished in terms of being a Muslim woman who became a pioneer in the field of architecture will stand the test of time.

Architect Qualities

If you are looking into building your own home, you may have decided to get the professional opinion of an architect in an attempt to create a high quality design.

The problem is; there are too many to choose from and you don’t know exactly who to go for. Also, you don’t necessarily want to rush into a decision because the design of your home is vital; if you go ahead with something you aren’t comfortable with, you have to live with it for many years. For this reason, it is your right to be picky and to take your time in deciding. To help you along, here are some important qualities that every architect must have.


You want to find someone that has had experience at doing a project similar to yours otherwise you could be making most of the decisions yourself. Whether they have built their career from scratch or have been working under someone else, at least three years experience is important as you need to be able to trust their ability.


Remember, they are fighting for this project and not the other way around. Take your time in finding someone that is polite and kind and someone you’re happy to go into a partnership with. All good professionals should have built up a level of customer service and you need to feel as though you can approach them at any time with any problems.

Examples of Work

It is all well and good someone having three, four, or even more, years of experience but they count for nothing if they were standing in the shadow of someone more experienced. Find actual examples of their work in the shape of projects that they have had the lead on in recent years. Your trust in an architect can only increase if there is proof of their work that you can go and stand next to or even go inside.

Open to Discussion

You need to try and find the balance between an architect having their own creative ideas and the ability to listen to yours. Of course, a professional will have ideas and will know what will work and what won’t but they still have to listen to your plans as it is your development after all. The partnership between you and them needs to be strong and they need to be able to come up with solid ideas as well as listen to what you want and don’t want. There is no point choosing an architect that isn’t going to follow the basic premise of your plan.

Big Clientele

It doesn’t matter if an architect has three years or thirty three years of experience, they should always have a big list of clients that they are happy to share with you. For a construction to be great, professionals have to meet and work together on a variety of different projects. If an architect has a list of people to call upon, you know that previous projects worked out well and that they would be happy to combine again.

strange buildings

Our Top Five Strangest Buildings in the World

When it comes to the strange, bizarre, and perhaps downright goofy in terms of building designs, virtually every country in the world offers their own entry. The architects who manage to dream up crazy buildings are equalled in their imagination by the builders who somehow use the right materials to construct these creations.

Over the centuries, the construction of odd or unusual buildings have occurred in every major civilization. Whether by accident such as the Great Bent Pyramid of Egypt or on purpose such as the Longaberger Building in Ohio, architects continue to amaze everyone with their penchant for creating imaginative structures that still provide awe and wonder. Thanks to modern materials and innovative construction designs, there are more unusual buildings being constructed on a daily basis.

Of all the fascinating, weird, and bizarre buildings that have been created, there are five that really stand out from the rest. Each of them have their own unique character and continue to draw attention long after they are first seen thanks to their remarkable design and construction. For those who believe that quirky designs in buildings are tame, here are five that really stand out in alphabetical order.


Dancing Building

Dancing Building – Prague, Czech Republic

A four year construction, the Dancing Building or “Fred and Ginger” as it is sometimes called was completed and opened in 1996 to rave reviews for its remarkable design. The non-traditional design of what appears to be two different buildings dancing together was the dream of architect Vlado Milunic and Frank Gehry on a vacant riverfront property.

The property itself was actually bombed during World War II and left abandoned for decades afterwards, having been fully cleared by 1960. The building or house as it is sometimes called was chosen as the site of the structure and Milunic managed to get Frank Gehry to cooperate to help design a building that took advantage of the small space available. The result was one side of the building being bowed inward like glass while the other offers a unique, almost comic-book appearance as a grandiose house. A connecting platform gives the appearance that the two sides are dancing together.

Initially, the design was somewhat controversial because it garnered so much attention away from the traditional Baroque, Art Nouveau, and Gothic structures quite common to Prague. However, it quickly became quite popular thanks to its richly imaginative design that still draws awe and respect to this day.

 Habitat 67

Habitat 67 – Montreal, Canada

Also called simply, “Habitat”, this community and housing complex was completed in 1967 just in time for the World’s Fair. Located at 2600 Avenue Pierre-Dupuy near the Saint Lawrence River, Habitat 67 is arguably the most recognizable structure in all of Montreal and perhaps Canada as well. Designed by Moshe Safdie, the building itself was first conceived as part of his Master’s thesis in architecture when he was studying at McGill University. While it was noted for its uniqueness at the time, it did not with the coveted Pilkington Prize normally awarded to such works because of its controversial nature.

Safdie kept the remarkable cubical design of the structure and eventually managed to develop the design thanks in large part to the approaching World’s Fair. The cubical nature combined with the off-kilter approach makes the structure look almost slapdash in appearance. The cubes sit atop each other in an half-hazard way that only adds to the overall charm and distinctiveness of the building itself. Consisting of 354 identical, prefabricated concrete cubes, the structure reaches 12 stories in height for the 146 residences that are in place. The idea was to bring in a sense of privacy while providing garden space and fresh air to the residents.

Despite its remarkable size, it was actually suppose to be much larger before funding cuts stopped the project. Still, it was proclaimed at the 1967 World’s Fair to be an incredible experiment and an architectural wonder that still amazes to this very day. Safdie has also gone on to a very distinguished career in designing more than 75 buildings around the world.


Hang Nga Guesthouse

Hang Nga Guesthouse – Da Lat, Vietnam

Also called the “Crazy House”, this incredible building seems more like out of a fairy tale than an actual construction. Designed and built by Dang Viet Nga, the design of the building appears more like a very large, ungainly tree with sculpted natural elements. Using paintings as his resource instead of traditional blueprints like most architects, Dang Viet Nga has managed to create a structure that offers an expressionistic take on building design.

Originally conceived more as an experience of personal expression, the overall design incorporates the natural elements found around the city. The use of paintings and hiring non-professional craftsmen to create the structure, there are very few right angles found in the building itself. There is a kangaroo room, an eagle’s egg room, and most of the structure is dedicated to animal forms in one way or another. There is always much discussion about the connection of animals and nationalities that have been a part of the Vietnamese experience in this structure, including China and the US.

Opened to the public in 1990, the house itself was inspired by famed Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi and appears to be a cross between the works of Salvador Dali and Walt Disney, only more odd and unusual. It’s little wonder that the guest house routinely makes the lists of the strangest buildings in the world which is why it is here on this list as well.



Ideal Palace – Hauterives, France

One of the most unusual and certainly evocative buildings ever crafted, this remarkable palace was the singular work of one man, Ferdinand Cheval who was a simple French postman. The palace is the result of a single incident in 1879 when he was walking fast along the sidewalk when something caught his foot and tripped him up. The unique stone which caused him to nearly fall was placed in his pocket and served as the inspiration for his remarkable palace.
Cheval began working on his ideal palace in April, 1879 after finding more of the sandstones in the same location. Each day he would pick up several unique stones and that night use them to construct his palace. He started by putting the stones in his pocket, then a basket, and finally a wheelbarrow and worked tirelessly through the night on his palace.

The palace itself is a unique combination of Christian and Hindu influences as each stone is bound together with mortar, lime, and cement. The Palace itself stands at roughly three stories tall and is imbued with a seemingly endless series of remarkable designs. For 33 years Chavel worked on his palace until it was finally complete just before the outbreak of World War One. However, for him to be buried in his palace he had to have a proper mausoleum under French law, so it took him eight more years to build that and he died not long afterwards in 1924.

The castle itself is quite beguiling and beautiful, a combination of natural design and unique craftsmanship from a man who had no formal training as an architect. Over the years, Chavel’s work has become greatly appreciated for its powerful design and the perseverance to create it. Today, you can visit the palace and even see the original stone put in place by Chavel himself that inspired him to build the Ideal Palace.



Longaberger Building – Newark, Ohio

The Longaberger Company creates and distributes distinctive, handcrafted maple wood baskets as well as many other lifestyle and home products. Since the company’s founding in 1919, they have specialized in a particular model of wood basket that became so identified with the company that in the mid-1990s the president, Dave Longaberger decided to create a new building in its shape.

The Longaberger “Basket” Building is a seven-story structure that looks exactly like the medium market basket that the company manufactures complete with the massive handles on top. The building offers 180,000 square feet of space and was built by Korda Nemeth Engineering. Completed and opened in 1997, the handles are actually heated during cold weather in order to prevent damage from accumulating ice. The building can be seen from miles around and drew national attention when it was completed.

After its completion, Longaberger wanted all of his company’s buildings to share the distinctive shape, but he passed away shortly after completion of the headquarters. Unfortunately, with the reduced number of employees, the Longaberger Company has recently moved from their unique building. While the future of this remarkable structure remains in doubt, it certainly made an impressive impact over the past two decades as a remarkable design.

Over the centuries, there have been many unique and strange buildings constructed which have fired the imagination. But few reach the pinnacles of the five strangest works each with their own wonderful inspiration. From a postman in France determined to fulfill his dream to the president of a basket-making company, the source of inspiration for architects of all types can be found in these five structures.