Sheikh Zayed Bridge went dark on Thursday following the passing of the Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid. The internationally renowned architect left us too early, at the age of 65, after having a heart attack in a Miami hospital.
Her life journey was an inspiration on many levels. As an architect and artist, her work was original and has its own organic style, demonstrating a unique fluidity of motion. She didn’t like to compromise her ideas for practicality. Her architectural projects reflect beauty as well as an ambition for architectural progress, since the main role of architecture according to her is to “contribute to society’s progress and ultimately to our individual and collective wellbeing”.
The renowned architect provided an inspirational role model for generations of women – perhaps particularly Arab women – by entering a male dominated field and defying stereotypes. Widely regarded as the greatest female architect in the contemporary world, she was the first woman to receive the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) gold medal in 2016. She was also the first woman – and the first Muslim – to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize in recognition of her work in 2004.
It is a testament to how much she influenced younger generations that throughout the weekend tributes flowed on social media from teenagers to older people.
We, in this country, can see her creative spirit whenever we cross the Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi and, in coming years, we will feel it whenever we visit the Performing Arts Centre on Saadiyat Island, which will be a vibrant home for artistic performance. Hadid once said she regretted not having designed more buildings in the Middle East, but she had hoped her designs would one day grace Qatar, Saudi Arabia and her native Baghdad.
It is certainly very sad that Hadid passed when she still had so much to give of her sharp wit, artistry, talent and extraordinary architecture. But architects always leave their legacies already built.