The architectural career of Zaha Hadid has not been traditional or easy. She entered the field with illustrious credentials. Born in Baghdad, she studied at the highly regarded Architectural Association in London, was a partner in the avant-garde Office of Metropolitan Architecture with Rem Koolhaas, and has held prestigious posts at one time or another at the world’s finest universities including Harvard, Yale, and many others. Much admired by the younger generation of architects, her appearance on campuses is always a cause for excitement and overflowing audiences.
Her path to worldwide recognition has been a heroic struggle as she inexorably rose to the highest ranks of the profession. Clients, journalists, fellow professionals are mesmerized by her dynamic forms and strategies for achieving a truly distinctive approach to architecture and its settings. Each new project is more audacious than the last and the sources of her originality seem endless.
Ms. Hadid has become more and more recognized as she continues to win competition after competition, always struggling to get her very original winning entries built. Discouraged, but undaunted, she has used the competition experiences as a “laboratory” for continuing to hone her exceptional talent in creating an architectural idiom like no other.
It is not surprising that one of the architects whose work Ms. Hadid admires is another Pritzker Prize winner, the preeminent South American author of Brasilia, and other major works—Oscar Niemeyer. They share a certain fearlessness in their work and both are unafraid of risk that comes inevitably with their respective vocabularies of bold visionary forms.
The competition winning phase of Ms. Hadid’s career gradually began to result in built works such as the Vitra Fire Station, the LFone in Weil am Rhein, the Mind Zone in the Millennium Dome and reached a recent high point with the opening of the critically acclaimed Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The full dimensions of Ms. Hadid’s prodigious artistic outpouring of work is apparent not only in architecture, but in exhibition designs, stage sets, furniture, paintings, and drawings.
The jury is pleased to acknowledge one of the great architects at the dawning of the twenty-first century by awarding the 2004 Pritzker Architecture Prize to Zaha Hadid, to commend her extraordinary achievements, and to wish her continued success.