On Thursday, architect Zaha Hadid died in Miami, leaving a profound legacy as one of the world's leading architects. Hadid was born in Iraq in 1950 and grew up in Baghdad -- a cosmopolitan center that exposed her to different cultural influences and people of varied religious backgrounds. She attended university at the American University in Beirut, where she studied mathematics. Hadid went on to study at the Architectural Association in London, which, according to the New York Times, helped inspire Hadid's signature experimental style.
Over the course of her career, Hadid became known for her dramatic and futuristic use of curves. Her first commission was to design a fire station in Vitra in Weil am Rhein, Germany. The firefighters eventually moved out and the building was turned into an event space. Some of her other notable works include the Guangzhou Opera House, the Heydar Aliyev Center (above), and the London Aquatics Center for the 2012 Olympic Games. In 2004, she won the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize -- the first woman to do so.
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Hadid was not without controversy. A fiercely outspoken architect, she came under fire for some of her projects, including a $250 million cultural center in Baku, Azerbaijan that was named after a former authoritarian leader and displaced some residents. Her firm was also commissioned to build a stadium in Qatar and became somewhat of a lightning rod for labor practices in the region. Hadid sued one critic who alleged 1,000 foreign laborers had died working on her stadium -- a lawsuit she won.
In 2015, British architect Peter Cooke praised Hadid's signature style, when she won the RIBA Gold Medal, the top prize in British architecture: "Zaha took the surfaces that were driven by that line out for a virtual dance and then deftly folded them over and then took them out for a journey into space."
Top photo: A man and a boy walk outside the Heydar Aliyev Center, ahead of the European Games in Baku, Azerbaijan, June 11, 2015.