Zaha Hadid was one of architecture’s greatest narcissists

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Zaha hadid was one of architecture’s greatest narcissists
© Getty

Don’t speak ill of the dead and all that – but, after Zaha Hadid’s sad, premature death at 65, we’ve only had oceans of praise. Over the last few days, the usual suspects, Richard Rogers and Anish Kapoor, have weighed in to testify to her genius and charm.

Well, they would praise Hadid, wouldn’t they? They were her close friends, from the same clique of megastar modernist architects/sculptors, whose grand-gesture works are all the rage these days. If you weren’t in that clique, the truth is rather different – as I found out when I interviewed Zaha Hadid five years ago.

In my 16 years as a journalist, she was the rudest interviewee I’ve ever met. She kept me waiting for an hour at her Clerkenwell office, before rearranging the interview for another day. And then she rearranged it twice more. Not that she did any of the rearranging – her extremely polite assistant did all that sort of thing.

When I finally got to see her, she never apologised for summoning me to her office and then putting me off. She was like a spoilt, medieval queen: grumpy, humourless, entitled, used to her orders being obeyed instantly, careless of the disruption those orders created. […]