Ambition and audacity are two of the strongest qualities an innovator can possess. Looking across time, these two ideals are common characteristics shared by those who have changed our world forever. These leaders had a vision, and they let nothing prevent them from realizing it.
Last week, the world lost one of these truly great innovators: Zaha Hadid. An Iraqi-born architect, Hadid was arguably one the most distinguished architects of our time. She was the first woman ever to win both receive the Pritzker Prize (2004) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Gold Medal (2014). It goes without saying that Hadid was a pioneer in her field, opening the door for women in her profession across the globe. In a speech last February, Hadid explained:
“We now see more established female architects all the time … That doesn't mean it's easy. Sometimes the challenges are immense. There has been tremendous change over recent years and we will continue this progress.”
In remembrance of Hadid's contributions to her field, I'd like to highlight some of her amazing achievements.
Maxxi Art Museum
Audacious designs such as Maxxi Art Museum in Rome have the power to inspire even those who are architecturally ignorant. Hadid had a knack for modern and urban designs that elicited an awe factor few could rival. Even though the museum is located near the heart of Rome's center, the bold designs seem to blend perfectly with the surrounding area. As the former New York Times architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussoff once wrote:
“[The museum's] sensual lines seem to draw the energy of the city right up into its belly, making everything around it look timid.”
Lois and Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Arts
Opened in 2003, Hadid's designs immediately received praise and acclaim from critics across the globe. Herbert Muschamp, a former New York Times architecture critic and one of Hadid’s largest supporters, wrote this of the museum in 2003:
“Might as well blurt it out: The Rosenthal Center is the most important American building to be completed since the end of the Cold War.”
The innovative designs throughout the center speak for themselves.
Guangzhou Opera House
From a photographic perspective, this building is one of the more astonishing structures I have ever seen—both inside and out. Completed in 2010, the opera house's construction was plagued with a plethora of issues, the majority stemming from an ill-trained workforce. However, one look at the inside of the opera house would make you forget any blemish or flaw you saw during the construction process.
Heydar Aliyev Center
Completed in Baku, Azerbaijan in 2007, Hadid's breathtaking design extends beyond walls, windows and doors in an attempt to speak to the city's people and the country's optimistic future. The audacious, urban design earned Hadid the London Design Museum's Design of the Year award 2014, noting its free-flowing and curvaceous style. As the design's notes state,
“The Center breaks from the rigid and often monumental Soviet architecture that is so prevalent in Baku, aspiring instead to express the sensibilities of Azeri culture and the optimism of a nation that looks to the future.”
A Creator of Space
Hadid was a pioneer in every sense of the world. Her blend of modern audacity and thoughtfulness led her to being one of the most accomplished and innovative architects of modern times. Her designs are a testament to her insight and creativity. The world will miss such a brilliant innovator, but her designs and structures will last many lifetimes.
Al Eidson is the owner of Eidson & Partners, a business and marketing strategy consultancy, and a founder of SparkLabKC, an early-stage startup accelerator program in Kansas City. He's an expert in taking products to market and has launched more than 220 new products and ventures through his career. He's also proud of killing off a great many problematic products before they hit the market. His vision involves meaningful and lasting products through innovation.