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Zaha Hadid dies at 65

Today the world lost one of the most important architects of our time: Zaha Hadid. She was only 65.

But the thing about architects, particularly famous “starchitects” such as Zaha Hadid, is that when they pass, they leave behind a rich legacy through their buildings. So probably the best way to write a sad post like this one is to just share her work. Courtesy of the Guardian (she was an Iraqi-British architect after all), here are: Zaha Hadid’s 10 best buildings in pictures.

I did, however, want to add a few more thoughts. 

When I found out about her death I was sitting in the St. Lawrence Market having lunch. I had my phone out and the news had completely flooded my social feeds. I immediately started messaging a few people because, well, she was Zaha Hadid – a figure you don’t go through architecture school not talking about. But it also hit me because she was only 65. This is the age that some people retire at. It’s the age that some people work their entire lives for.

Whenever this happens I can’t help but think to myself: Why are we so afraid of risks? (I know that this is part of the reason.) And are we even focused on the right risks? So many of us are afraid of sticking our neck out and potentially failing, and yet we all have an expiry date, which means there’s the big risk of potentially dying without having done all the things we want to do. Logically, this should probably be the greater risk.

I realize that this may sound a bit trite, but it feels appropriate. Zaha Hadid took big risks. Her architecture was way out there and that meant she struggled early on. Not only was she a female in a male dominated industry (she was the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize), but her work carved out an entirely new architectural language. She embedded technology into the world of architecture – something we talk a lot about on this blog.

The sad thing about death – besides the obvious death part – is that it can take someone dying to remind you of the shortness of life. So to end, I’m going to leave you all with an excerpt from a recent essay by Paul Graham aptly called, Life is Short.

“If life is short, we should expect its shortness to take us by surprise. And that is just what tends to happen. You take things for granted, and then they’re gone. You think you can always write that book, or climb that mountain, or whatever, and then you realize the window has closed. The saddest windows close when other people die. Their lives are short too. After my mother died, I wished I’d spent more time with her. I lived as if she’d always be there. And in her typical quiet way she encouraged that illusion. But an illusion it was. I think a lot of people make the same mistake I did.”

I promise that tomorrow’s post will be less sad.

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