AUBites, along with friends and family members got together on the afternoon of May 9th to pay tribute to Dame Zaha Hadid during the opening ceremony of an exhibit at AUB’s Issam Fares Institute building’s Reading Room and Terrace.
The exhibit is organized by the AUB University Libraries, in coordination with the Arab Center for Architecture and will remain on display at the IFI building on the AUB campus till May 13th, showcasing books published by and about the Architect, maps of the IFI building and photos of its inauguration, family belongings, sketches and prototypes designed by Hadid for Mouzannar, the Lebanese jewelers, in addition to a projection of the ceremony of the Honorary Doctorate received at AUB in 2006.
During the event, AUB Interim Provost Mohamad Harajli applauded Zaha Hadid’s achievements and genius and emphasized on her significant relationship with AUB, first as a student and then as a designer of an outstanding building contributing to AUB’s role as a connector and catalyst for change and creativity.
AUB professor of Architecture and Design, George Arbid, described Hadid as an “off-road architect who goes to places never visited before”. He briefed the audience about his encounter with her at AUB in 2003, where she fascinated him as a single-minded free thinker, risk-taker, a challenging and creative architect who places art and creativity above all. She impressed him as a free woman who refuses to be defined or confined to the identity or to rules or traditions.
Leyla Sayed Hussein, an AUB Architecture student, read an article she authored in AsSafir Shabab, in which she describes the way she discovered Zaha Hadid through Jafet Library’s collection, describing Hadid as “building the impossible”.
Nelida Nassar, Hadid’s friend, talked about her as a loyal and supportive friend, elaborating on Hadid’s interest and activism in empowering women, especially in the Arab world.
Rana Hadid, Zaha’s niece spoke about Zaha the persona and the charisma, saying “Zaha added Zaha to everything she touched”. She mentioned several friends’ quotes about Zaha’s time at AUB and shared their memories of Zaha. “She was so much larger than life that none of us thought she would die,” she said, mentioning how Hadid always credited part of her success to her upbringing and education and to open-mindedness.
Mariette Atallah, Head of Collection Development at AUB Libraries and curator of the Exhibit thanked all AUB units which contributed to organizing the event. She detailed the exhibit’s categories that reflected on the creativity of Dame Hadid through her many endeavors such as the Honorary Doctorate received at AUB, the Issam Fares Institute’s inauguration, creating designs for Mouzannar Jewelers and for many other projects, furniture, paintings and much more.
At the end of the ceremony, the audience enjoyed one of Hadid’s preferred songs entitled “Everybody’s Talkin” by Harry Nilsson.