”My work is not within the accepted box,” the late architect Zaha Hadid previously told HuffPost. “Maybe because I am a woman. Also an Arab. There was a certain prejudice about these things.”
Today, that same outsider is being honored with a Google Doodle, one that celebrates her status as a game-changing designer of the contemporary world.
Throughout her life, Hadid spoke openly about the misogyny and racism she encountered as a woman of color working in the world of architecture. As a student at the Architectural Association School in the 1970s, women made up just 6 percent of her field, fellow architect Yasmin Shariff estimated. When Hadid died of a sudden heart attack in 2016, that percentage had jumped to a still-paltry 24 percent. Still, she forged ahead.
Surrounded by men, Hadid’s tenacity was often interpreted as egotism, her drive to be heard seen as a symptom of bad manners. “Who needed a mouthy diva in a world where men got by perfectly nicely, talking politely and shaking hands on the golf course?” The Guardian’s Simon Hattenstone asked, facetiously. This was the unnerving reality faced by a woman who graduated with a degree in mathematics from the American University of Beirut.
“They’re not used to an opinionated woman,” Hadid has said of men in Britain in particular. “They’re scared of women.”
Despite the obstacles, Hadid, born in Baghdad, Iraq, in 1950, rose swiftly to fame. Her professor, the celebrated architect Rem Koolhaas, once described her as “a planet in her own inimitable orbit,” and she’d prove the adage correct. She opened her own architectural firm, Zaha Hadid Architects, in London in 1980. She went on to design a number of recognizable buildings throughout her career: the Guangzhou Opera House, Rome’s MAXXI National Museum of the 21st Century Arts and the London Olympic Aquatic Centre. Her neofuturistic style, heavy on smooth curves and concave shapes, earned her more accolades than most. In 2004, she became the first woman, as well as the first Muslim, to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize, dubbed the “Nobel Prize of architecture.”
“Zaha Hadid was widely regarded to be the greatest female architect in the world,” a representative for her company told HuffPost on the day she died, March 31, 2016, at age 65.
You can explore Hadid’s work more thoroughly over at Google Arts & Culture. In the meantime, check out a few of her notable designs below.