Starchitect Zaha Hadid dies of a heart attack at 65

Zaha-Hadid-1From The Real Deal: UPDATED: March 31, 1:08 p.m.: Zaha Hadid, the renowned architect known for her curvy and futuristic designs, has died. She was 65.

Hadid died on Thursday of a heart attack at a Miami hospital, where she was being treated for bronchitis, her company confirmed. The Baghdad-born architect was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Prize in 2004 and this year became the first woman to win the Royal Institute of British Architects Gold Medal. In his citation commemorating the award, architect Peter Cook called Hadid “larger than life” and “bold as brass.” He described how her early style eventually evolved from “spiky” lines inspired by Russian Constructivism, to the dream-like, flowing lines that characterize her best-known work.

“For three decades now, she has ventured where few would dare: If Paul Klee took a line for a walk, then 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,” he wrote.

She studied at the Architectural Association, and then joined the Office of Metropolitan Architecture in 1972. It was there that she worked under Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, who once famously called the then-young architect “a planet in her own inimitable orbit.”

“When he said it at the time, I was upset,” Hadid told CNN at in 2014. “But in a way he was right — I should not have a conventional career and he was absolutely spot on.”

She started her own practice, Zaha Hadid Architects, in London in 1979. In her early years, she drew attention for her theoretical designs, such as a recreational center on the Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, which incorporated the cliffside into the building. Her design won the competition for the recreation center in 1983, but the vision was never realized. Further acclaim followed with her first major commission, the Vitra Fire Station in Germany in 1993, and the Guangzhou Opera House in China in 2010.

She designed the Al Wakrah stadium in Qatar, which will host the FIFA World Cup in 2022. Her One Thousand Museum in Miami, an ultra luxury 62-story tower, is under construction and currently up to the ninth floor. Her first high-rise in New York City, 520 West 28th Street, an apartment complex that overlooks the High Line, is slated to open in 2017.

Louis Birdman, a co-developer on One Thousand Museum,  said he knew Hadid both professionally and socially since she began work on the tower more than three years ago, and considered her “the most important architect of our time.”

“The designs that she created were very unique, very ahead of their time, very futuristic, very innovative, and she knew how to push the bounds of design,” he said.  “It’s a great loss for the world of architecture. She was a true visionary in the field.”

Ina Cordle contributed to this report.