Zaha Hadid (1950-2016) was born in Baghdad Iraq and commenced her college studies at the American University in Beirut in the field of mathematics. She moved to London in 1972 to study architecture at the Architectural Association and upon graduation in 1977, she joined the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). She also taught at the Architectural Association (AA) with OMA collaborators Rem Koolhaas and Elia Zenghelis.

She began her own practice in London in 1980 and won the prestigious competition for the Hong Kong Peak Club, a leisure and recreational center in 1983. Painting and drawing, especially in her early period, are important techniques of investigation for her design work. Ever since her 1983 retrospective exhibition at the AA in London, her architecture has been shown in exhibitions worldwide and many of her works are held in important museum collections.

Known as an architect who consistently pushes the boundaries of architecture and urban design, her work experiments with new spatial concepts intensifying existing urban landscapes and encompassing all fields of design, from the urban scale to interiors and furniture.

She is well-known for some of her seminal built works, such at the Vitra Fire Station (1993), Weil am Rhein, Germany, the Mind Zone at the Millennium Dome (1999) Greenwich, UK, a ski jump (2002) in Innsbruck, Austria and the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art (2003) in Cincinnati, Ohio. Parallel with her private practice, Hadid has continued to be involved in academics, holding chairs and guest professorships at Harvard University, Yale University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Columbia University, the University of Visual Arts in Hamburg and the University of Applied Arts in Vienna.

Zaha Hadid Becomes the First Woman to Receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize

Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi born British citizen has been chosen as the 2004 Laureate of the Pritzker Architecture Prize marking the first time a woman has been named for this 26 year old award. Hadid, who is 53, has completed one project in the United States, the Richard and Lois Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati, Ohio; and is currently developing another to co-exist with a Frank Lloyd Wright structure, the Price Tower Arts Center in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

Her other completed projects in Europe include a fire station for the Vitra Furniture Company in Weil am Rhein, Germany; LFone/ Landesgartenschau, an exhibition building to mark the 1999 garden festival in that same city; a car park and terminus Hoenheim North, a “park and ride” and tramway on the outskirts of Strasbourg, France; and a ski jump situated on the Bergisel Mountain overlooking Innsbruck, Austria.

She has numerous other projects in various stages of development, including a building for BMW in Leipzig, and a Science Center in Wolfsburg, both in Germany; a National Center of Contemporary Arts in Rome; a Master Plan for Bilbao, Spain; a Guggenheim Museum for Taichung, Taiwan; and a high speed train station outside Naples; and a new public archive, library and sport center in Montpellier, France.

In announcing the jury’s choice, Thomas J. Pritzker, president of The Hyatt Foundation, said, “It is gratifying to us as sponsors of the prize to see our very independent jury honor a woman for the first time. Although her body of work is relatively small, she has achieved great acclaim and her energy and ideas show even greater promise for the future.”

Pritzker Prize jury chairman, Lord Rothschild, commented, “At the same time as her theoretical and academic work, as a practicing architect, Zaha Hadid has been unswerving in her commitment to modernism. Always inventive, she’s moved away from existing typology, from high tech, and has shifted the geometry of buildings.”

Continuing, Lord Rothschild said, “In her fourth year at the Architectural Association in London, as a student of Rem Koolhaas (himself a recent recipient of the Pritzker Prize) her graduation project was called Malevich’s Tectonik. She placed a hotel on the Hungerford Bridge on the Rivers Thames, drawing from suprematist forms to meet the demands of the program and the site. It’s a happy coincidence therefore that this year’s prize ceremony should be taking place in St. Petersburg, Russia, where Malevich lived and worked, a city of extraordinary beauty and originality.”

The formal ceremony for what has come to be known throughout the world as architecture's highest honor will be held on May 31, 2004. At that time, a $100,000 grant and a bronze medallion will be bestowed in the State Hermitage Museum followed by a reception and dinner in the Grand Peterhof Palace. The prize presentation ceremony moves to different locations around the world each year, paying homage to historic and contemporary architecture.


Juror Frank Gehry, who is also the 1989 Pritzker Laureate, said, “The 2004 laureate is probably one of the youngest laureates and has one of the clearest architectural trajectories we’ve seen in many years. Each project unfolds with new excitement and innovation." A new juror this year, journalist Karen Stein who is editorial director of Phaidon Press, commented, “Over the past 25 years, Zaha Hadid has built a career on defying convention—conventional ideas of architectural space, of practice, of representation and of construction.”

Rolf Fehlbaum, chairman of the board of Vitra, who also became a juror this year, said, “Without ever building, Zaha Hadid would have radically expanded architectures repertoire of spatial articulation. Now that the implementation in complex buildings is happening, the power of her innovation is fully revealed."

Juror and architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable said of the choice, “Zaha Hadid is one of the most gifted practitioners of the art of architecture today. From the earliest drawings and models to current buildings and work in progress, there has been a consistently original and strong personal vision that has changed the way we see and experience space. Hadid’s fragmented geometry and fluid mobility do more than create an abstract, dynamic beauty; this is a body of work that explores and expresses the world we live in.”

Another juror, Carlos Jimenez from Houston, who is professor of architecture at Rice University, said, “Presaged by an inimitable graphic and formal exuberance, Zaha Hadid’s work reminds us that architecture is a siphon for collective energies, a far cry from the stand alone building, perennially oblivious to the vitality of the city.” And from juror Jorge Silvetti, who is a Professor of Architecture, Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, “Zaha Hadid’s buildings are today among the most convincing arguments for the primacy of architecture in the production of space. What she has achieved with her inimitable manipulation of walls, ground planes and roofs, with those transparent, interwoven and fluid spaces, are vivid proof that architecture as a fine art has not run out of steam and is hardly wanting in imagination."

Bill Lacy, an architect, spoke as the executive director of the Pritzker Prize, “Only rarely does an architect emerge with a philosophy and approach to the art form that influences the direction of the entire field. Such an architect is Zaha Hadid who has patiently created and refined a vocabulary that sets new boundaries for the art of architecture.”

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.

Jury Members

Lord Rothschild (Chairman)
Rolf Fehlbaum
Frank Gehry
Ada Louise Huxtable
Carlos Jimenez
Jorge Silvetti
Karen Stein
Bill Lacy (Executive Director)

The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

The unique architectural ensemble of the State Hermitage Museum is formed by several magnificent buildings situated along the embankment of the River Neva, in the heart of St. Petersburg. The Winter Palace, the centerpiece of the complex, which served as residence of the Russian tsars, was designed and built by Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli in 1754-62. More buildings were added to the ensemble in the eighteenth and nineteeth centuries, such as the Great Hermitage, the Small Hermitage, the eastern wing of the General Staff building, and the Menshikov Palace.

The museum was founded in 1764 when Empress Catherine the Great purchased a collection of 225 Flemish and Dutch paintings from the Berlin merchant Johann Ernest Gotzkowski. It is estimated that by 1800 the collections contained 4000 works. The imperial Hermitage was proclaimed property of the Soviet state after the Revolution of 1917. Today, the Hermitage holdings, which have grown continuously, number over 3,000,000 works. Together form an encyclopedic collection of the development of culture and art from the Stone Age to the twentieth century. Strengths of the Hermitage collection of Western art include Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Rubens, van Dyck, Rembrandt, Poussin, Claude Lorrain, Watteau, Tiepolo, Canaletto, Canova, Rodin, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir, Cézanne, van Gogh, Gauguin, Picasso, and Matisse. Also noteworthy are the collections of Russian imperial regalia, Fabergé jewelry, and the largest existing collection of ancient gold from Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

The 2004 Pritzker Architecture Prize ceremony honoring Zaha Hadid, with the participation of the Director of the Hermitage Museum, the Governor of St. Petersburg, the Minister of Culture and Mass Communication of the Russian Federation, Lord Rothschild, Chair of the Jury, Thomas J. Pritzker, President of the Hyatt Foundation, and Zaha Hadid.


the State Hermitage Museum