Zaha Hadid: The problem of popularity

Giles Worsley in The New Statesman:

Portrait3For years, Zaha Hadid’s architecture was problematic. Her ideas were stunning, particularly when ex-pressed as large paintings full of what seemed like exploding buildings, sharp angles and jagged planes, but many found it hard to believe that they could ever be built. From 1982, when she first sprang to fame winning the competition for The Peak, a mix of private club and apartments set high above Hong Kong, through to the debacle of the Cardiff Bay Opera House in 1994 (it was expected to win a Lottery grant but failed to do so and was cancelled), Hadid enjoyed immense critical acclaim and cult status among students, but frustration when it came to building. She managed to complete only one project, a little fire station at the Vitra furniture works near Basel. She appeared doomed to remain a paper architect, the fate of the great early-20th-century Russian suprematist Kasimir Malevich, who was such an influence on her.

Today, however, she seems omnipresent. Ever since she completed her first major building, the Lois and Richard Rosenthal Centre for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati in 2003, which brought her the prestigious Pritzker Prize the following year, Hadid has been unstoppable.

More here.