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Maa Ricardo Karam tribute to Zaha Hadid filmed at AUB
5/15/2017
Jennifer Muller & Sally Abou Melhem  |  Office of Communications  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 

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A special episode of the weekly television program Maa Ricardo Karam aired on May 14, focusing on the life and work of the late architectural icon, Dame Zaha Hadid. The show was taped at AUB, in the Issam Fares Institute (IFI) building, which was the first Zaha Hadid design to be built in the Middle East.

At the time of her sudden and unexpected death on March 31, 2016, Zaha Hadid was one of the most important and influential architects of her era. Born and raised in Iraq, Hadid studied mathematics at AUB before moving to London, where she graduated from the acclaimed Architectural Association and later founded her own firm, Zaha Hadid Architects. 

Hadid’s stunning designs can be seen around the world, including the MAXXI museum in Rome, the Olympic Aquatic Center in London, the Guangzhou Opera House in China, and the Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi. In 2004, she became the first woman to be awarded the Pritzker Prize, one of architecture’s most prestigious awards, and was named a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2012. 

Introducing this special episode of his weekly show, Ricardo Karam called Zaha Hadid “the butterfly of modern architecture” and said that the episode was “a tribute of joy, a bow of thanks, and a space for love” on this one-year anniversary of Hadid’s untimely death. 

Interspersed with short videos on her life and career, the show brought together various people from Zaha Hadid’s life to discuss her as a family member, friend, colleague, and architect. 

Several members of the Hadid family were on hand to talk about the Zaha Hadid they knew on a personal level. Rima Shehadeh, her brother Haitham’s former wife, spoke about how growing up around Iraqi nature undoubtedly influenced Zaha as an artist. Several other participants also mentioned Zaha’s strong connection with Iraq and how passionate she was about her homeland.

One of the participants was AUB President Fadlo R. Khuri, who noted that Zaha Hadid was granted an honorary doctorate from AUB in 2006. This was the same year that Zaha Hadid Architects won the competition to design a building for the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, whose futuristic design recently won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.

“It has a presence that is different from all the other buildings,” said President Khuri. "When you enter this building, and see the layout that is different from any other building in Lebanon and the Arab World until today, you feel Zaha Hadid’s presence.”

One theme that came up throughout the episode was how Zaha Hadid was proud of her roots but did not like being labeled as an Arab, Muslim woman: She wanted to be recognized for her work as an architect and artist. Her niece Rana Hadid, herself an architect, related a story of when someone called the office of Zaha Hadid Architects asking to speak to “Mr. Hadid” because they wanted to give him an award, to which she replied, “There is no Mr. Hadid. I am Zaha Hadid.”

Several people noted that Zaha was very loyal—to her family, her friends, and her colleagues—but also that she faced many challenges, having to stand on her own two feet and fight for her ideas, and this is what helped shape her strong personality.

Tarek Khayyat, who has been with Zaha Hadid Architects since 2005 and overlooks their projects in the Middle East and North Africa, talked about how he and others in the firm feel that Zaha is still present, although not physically with them anymore.

“In the same way she invested in her projects and in her style, she invested in the people around her and in the people she worked with,” said Khayyat. ”She knew how to extract from each one of them the best of their energy and the best they had. It’s as if she is still around us and the team is still functional and moving forward."

Near the end of the taping, Ricardo Karam asked the guests for some final thoughts. Hussein Hadid, Zaha’s nephew and an accomplished chef and restaurateur in Beirut, said that the family is committed to preserving her legacy and the Hadid name. 
Story Highlights
  • ​​A special episode of the weekly television program Maa Ricardo Karam aired on May 14, focusing on the life and work of the late architectural icon, Dame Zaha Hadid. The show was taped at AUB, in the Issam Fares Institute (IFI) building, which was the first Zaha Hadid design to be built in the Middle East.
  • At the time of her sudden and unexpected death on March 31, 2016, Zaha Hadid was one of the most important and influential architects of her era.
 
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