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Finally, Zaha Hadid’s Year

Guangzhou Opera House  in Guangdong province, People's Republic of China. Inaugurated in 2010. Photograph by Hufton and Crow.
Recently rejected but brilliant design for 425 Park Avenue, 2013.

Zaha Hadid: From Montpellier to Miami

Zaha Hadid, the Pritzker-winning architect who was born in Iraq but lives in London, has long been a familiar sight around Miami.

“There are 360 degrees, so why stick to one?”—Zaha Hadid

Zaha Hadid: From Montpellier to Miami

Author: Beth Dunlop

Zaha Hadid, the Pritzker-winning architect who was born in Iraq but lives in London, has long been a familiar sight around Miami. She has an apartment here, and back in 2005, Hadid—officially, at least in Great Britain, she is Dame Zaha—was Designer of the Year for Design Miami. Since then, it’s not unexpected to find the formidable 62-year-old architect as a guest at a dinner or a private party, or to chance upon the dramatically dressed Dame Zaha in a restaurant. Her recent works include the London Aquatics Centre, the Galaxy Soho complex in Beijing, and the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum in Lansing, Michigan.

But until quite lately, the much premiated and much sought-after Hadid did not have a design in Miami. She was first runner-up in the Miami Science Museum’s quest for an architect for its new downtown building (she lost out to another British firm, Grimshaw). Then came a commission in 2011 to design a parking garage for the City of Miami Beach. More recently, she has conceived a Biscayne Boulevard skyscraper, complete with rooftop helipad, which will look out across both the new science and art museums.

Those wishing sharper insight into Dame Zaha’s design process, and her work, might want to pause over a new book from Skira Rizzoli that delves deep into her recently completed Pierresvives municipal building in Montpellier, France.  The book carefully documents the structure in photos and drawings: It is long, low, sleek and aerodynamic, with architecture that in many ways foreshadows her forthcoming work in Miami. Turning the slim volume’s pages, you see her interest in the ways that architecture can imply motion—while seeming to be moving itself. The work is fluid, streamlined, and full of energy. (

That’s especially true in her proposed design for the Miami Beach garage (one architecture blogger described it as looking like the Guggenheim after an earthquake), which will be in the Collins Park neighborhood and join the city’s ever growing collection of parking structures designed by important architects. It’s a dynamic design that relies on a sequence of curved facades that are not lined up with one another and is full of action.

In contrast, the newly released images of her 60-story One Thousand Museum building show it thrusting skyward towards its helipad and the clouds not very far beyond, with a design that looks highly engineered and at the same time organic, and just as purposeful as Pierresvives, except that this one is not earthbound but quite definitively headed for the heavens. For more information, visit