In fact, Hadid’s exhibition fails to address the questions lobbied time and again by many of her critics, who took issue with the political implications of her designs during her lifetime; based on her retrospective, they’ll likely have reason to continue to do so as the firm carries on without her. Can a building generated by algorithm be responsive to its context, and can its design take surroundings, site, and the socioeconomic circumstances within which it is built into consideration? What kind of political compromises should an architect be willing to make, in order to see his or her work built? It is especially telling to find these and related concerns—among the driving themes of the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale—altogether ignored at the Palazzo Franchetti.
In the aftermath of Hadid’s death, her firm will be led by Patrik Schumacher, a longstanding design partner who served as co-designer on her first major built commission, the 1993 Vitra Fire Station. Schumacher coined the term “Parametricism” in 2008 to describe the firm’s algorithmic process, and has since served as Hadid’s chief propagandist and design philosopher. Under his tutelage, the Venice retrospective makes clear, her firm will continue to do precisely what she did so well in life: Refine her formula, and apply it.