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20 years: Architect Zaha Hadid becomes the first female recipient of the Pritzker Prize

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Authored by Alice Broome
Published on 21st March, 2024 2 min read

20 years: Architect Zaha Hadid becomes the first female recipient of the Pritzker Prize

Today (21/03/2024) marks 20 years since Zaha Hadid became the first woman to win the prestigious architecture award, the Pritzker Prize. To date, only six women have received the award in its 45 year history.

Born in 1950 in Baghdad, Iraq, Zaha Hadid enrolled at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London having studied mathematics as an undergraduate at the American University of Beirut. She went on to become one of the most influential and unique architects of the late-twentieth and early-twenty first centuries. Unlike other architects, Hadid utilised painting instead of traditional architectural drawings as a method of design and investigation. 

Hadid opened her own practice, Zaha Hadid Architects, in London in 1980. Her most famous buildings include the London Aquatics Centre (built for the 2012 Olympics), the Broad Art Museum, Rome's MAXXI Museum, and the Guangzhou Opera House. 


Her work has received international recognition and she has been the recipient of many competitive awards, such as the UK's most prestigious architectural award, the Stirling Prize, in 2010 and 2011. In 2012 Hadid was made a Dame for her services to architecture. In 2013 she was listed on the Forbes List as one of the "World's Most Powerful Women". In 2016 she also became the first woman to be individually awarded the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects. 

Zaha Hadid died that same year. She was 65. She left an incredible legacy as the “Queen of the curve”.[1] Her life and work remains an inspiration for architects all over the world.

[1] Caroline Davies, Robert Booth, and Mark Brown, “'Queen of the curve': Zaha Hadid dies aged 65 from heart attack”, The Guardian, 31 March 2016, available at https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/mar/31/star-architect-zaha-hadid-dies-aged-65


Authored by Alice Broome

Alice Broome

Alice Broome is an Editorial Assistant at British Online Archives. She is a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics graduate from the University of York.


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The British Online Archives Notable Days diary is a platform intended to mark key dates and events throughout the year. The posts draw attention to historical events and figures, as well as recurring cultural traditions and international awareness days, in both religious and secular contexts.

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