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You may not always like her aesthetic, her candor or the politics of her clients, but Zaha Hadid, the star architect who died suddenly in Miami on March 31, has left a dark hole in the world of architecture.
An inimitable mind, Hadid often proposed dazzling “swoopy” avant-garde structures, earning the nickname the “Queen of the Curve.” Her singular stardom broke through the male-dominated profession’s stereotypes of architectural career paths for women, Arabs, emigres or anyone who has ever felt like a square peg in a round hole. When she passed away at 65, Hadid was a rarity, a celebrity, and an anointed Dame.
Hadid established herself by winning high-profile cultural commissions and was bolstered by architecture honors like her induction into the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth in 2012. She went by “Zaha,” enjoying first-name-only celebrity brand name status, even beyond design circles.
Brands and celebrities lined up to collaborate with Hadid: Chanel, Adidas (with Pharrell Williams), jewelers Swarovski and Georg Jensen, Moleskine, the German yacht makers Blohm+Voss, and of course the $2,000 sculptural “haute couture” shoe designed with her friend and the Dutch theorist Rem Koolhaas. Long before today’s “Lean In” movement, Hadid was a single, stylish, workaholic woman who ran a 400-person firm, and refused to shrink from controversy. […]