The Pritzker Architecture Prize, begun in 1979 by Hyatt Hotel heir Jay Pritzker, honored Zaha Hadid in 2004, becoming the first woman and Muslim to be recognized. It was hardly Hadid’s first or last award for her work. Her designs are radically angled, “There are 360 degrees, so why stick to one?” That style earned Hadid the moniker “Queen of the Curve”.
Hadid, who died in 2016 at age 65, was born in Iraq and spent most of her life in the UK. Originally studying mathematics, she transferred to architecture in 1972 where she studied with Rem Koolhaus at the Architectural Association School of Architecture. While she hung out her architect’s shingle in 1980, she was always a teacher, having inspired students at Harvard, Cambridge, University of Chicago and Columbia University. That’s not to say she wasn’t prolific. She and her 400 staff have designed over 950 projects in 44 countries. The firm continues Hadid’s successes having received 31 awards in 2017 and eight awards so far in 2018.