As news spread on Thursday morning of her sudden death due to heart attack at the age of 65, we were reminded of the trailblazing Iraqi-British architect’s unmatched accolades: first woman to win the Pritzker Prize, first woman to take home the RIBA Gold Medal, two-time recipient of the Stirling Prize, a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, a UNESCO Artist for Peace, a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, and the list goes on. Her designs, sweeping feats of construction and sleek, elegant forms, have been the subject of some 20 major exhibitions, from the Venice Architecture Biennale to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum to MAXXI, Rome (which she designed). It goes without saying that in a field historically dominated by males, Hadid shattered ceilings left and right, while rethinking the very definition of a ceiling.
These honors are evidence of her architectural feats, as well as her ideas—she fundamentally pushed the concepts, theories, and technology of architecture forward. Not just an architect, she was an artist and a professor, teaching at numerous institutions including Harvard, Yale, and Vienna’s University of Applied Art. To crown her the greatest female architect is to diminish her; Hadid’s legacy is one of boundless ambition, innovation, and genius.