Iraqi-born architect 1st woman to claim profession's top honor
March 22, 2004
BY ANDREW BRIDGES
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -- Zaha Hadid, an Iraqi-born architect who struggled for years to get her unconventional designs built, won the prestigious 2004 Pritzker Architecture Prize on Sunday, the first woman to receive the profession's highest honor.
Pritzker jurors singled out her designs for an Austrian ski jump, a German fire station and an Ohio art museum.
Hadid ''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,'' said California architect and juror Frank Gehry, a 1989 Pritzker winner.
Hadid, 53, now a British citizen, exploded on the world architecture scene two decades ago when she won a competition to design a clifftop resort above Hong Kong. The project was never built, but it thrust her into the public eye.
For years, Hadid was most famous for being the architect whose buildings -- universally lauded as distinctive and dynamic -- remained unbuilt.
''It became like a cause celebre because it perpetuated this wondering 'why not,' 'it's not possible,' 'it's not buildable,'" Hadid said in a recent interview.
She has collected many awards in recent years, including for the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati.
Hadid will be awarded a $100,000 grant. The Pritzker Prize, sponsored by the Chicago family that developed the Hyatt Hotel chain, was created 26 years ago.
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