“In the summer of 1989, I found myself in the right place at the right time, because I had the pleasure of spending sometime with Zaha in Halifax at Architecture School. I remember that we were all freaking out that she was coming. I suppose the truth is that we were completely star struck at the thought of here landing on our doorstep. She showed up at The Technical University of Nova Scotia in the middle of a hot afternoon wearing a long, heavy and expensive black Prada jacket, which looked a bit like a cape. We weren’t surprised. It wasn’t until you were up close to her that you realized her jacket had been covered with sparkly black and purple letters spelling “ZAHA”. She had crafted it in her office the week prior to her arrival, using a glue gun and sparkle dust. She was essentially bursting her “Starchitect” balloon. Upon reflection, I think it was a lovely metaphor for her approach to life and work, because she realized you would only get the joke if you got close to her. She understood the business of architecture was as much about entertainment as it was about being ernest.
She was cool. Zaha was a force of nature and had a soft heart for students that liked to explore the edges of creativity. She had no time for the middle ground. I remember her telling us “that mediocrity is a dark and cold place that will murder your creative soul ”. She had a pension for the dramatic.
She loved being a strong and charming woman in a male dominated profession and equally loved being an Iraqi in England. For 15 years nobody would take her work seriously. It was regarded as esoteric and theoretical, not “build-able”. She was labeled “A competition Architect”. She persevered and found wealthy and intelligent allies years later, who supported her vision and ambition to defy gravity with form and material.
I’m sad, because she was an incredible talent, an amazing woman who was afraid of nothing and still had a lot of work left to do. Take some time and learn about what she did accomplish over the past 35 years.” – Gordon Mackay