On Zaha Hadid’s Legacy

Airport and Inheritance


Many predicted that the death of Zaha Hadid – quintessential example of signature architecture – would compromise the future of her studio.They were wrong: almost three years after the British-Iraqi succumbed to a heart attack, Zaha Hadid Architects is a buoyant company that has not only managed to complete projects that its founder left unfinished when she died, such as the terminal of Beijing’s new international airport, but also obtained big new commissions and won competitions all over the world.

So successful has the practice remained that the difficult agreement arrived at in 2016 – in accordance with Hadid’s will – by the two groups into which Hadid’s heirs are divided have blown up. On one side are the property developer and art collector Peter Palumbo, Hadid’s niece Rana, and the artist Brian Clarke; on the other is Patrick Schumacher, the firm’s de facto head. The critic Oliver Wainwright recently aired Schumacher’s claim to be sole executor of Hadid’s estate, through a court proceeding that is sure to be protracted, problematic, and polemic.

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