As an artist, a painter Dame Zaha Hadid born in Baghdad, began searching her interests in art and painting at a young age that eventually led to one of most influential architectural careers. Through influences in Russian Constructivism and artists such as Kazimir Malevich, she began studying in 1972 at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London under Rem Koolhaas who later described her as “a planet in her own orbit.” Other professors noted she was the inventor of 89 degrees, nothing ever 90 degrees. A sculptor of the curve was one observation because of the bold and brave curvilinear forms that make up her work.
Hadid reflects on her approach. “One result of my interest in Malevich was my decision to employ painting as a design tool. I found the traditional system of architectural drawing to be limiting and was searching for a new means of representation. Studying Malevich allowed me to develop abstraction as an investigative principle.”
In 1988 she became internationally recognized when chosen to exhibit her works, drawings and paintings in the “Deconstructivism in Architecture” at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Curated by Philip Johnson and Mark Wigley. She was one of seven who were invited to exhibit in the show among such names as Coop Himmelblau, Peter Eisenman, Frank Gehry, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, and Bernard Tschumi.
Through the 90’s her career and influence flourished as the world began to see her works appear. The Vitra Fire Station in Weil am Rhein, Germany (91-93), Bergisel Ski Jump, Innsbruck, Austria (99–2002) and the Extension of Ordrupgaard Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark (2001–2005). In the period from 2005 she began a collaborative relationship with OMNIYAT and founder Mahdi Amjad for what was to become Hadid’s first work in the UAE.
The Opus building in the Burj Khalifa area in central Dubai was born. The project is rare in many forms because the Opus was one of the last creations by Hadid. The architect designed absolutely every detail from exterior to interior, materials and furniture all with the brave flowing forms that act as a chorus to the eyes, a sense of elevated presence when one enters. The exterior form of the Opus can be hailed an artistic landmark in architecture.
“I was fortunate enough to have worked for over ten years with my dear friend and design mentor Dame Zaha Hadid on the creation of our flagship Opus Building in the heart of Dubai”, Amjad reflects.
In light of this tremendous collaboration Mahdi Amjad established the Zaha Hadid/Omniyat Fellowship Fund at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) to nurture talent in the Arab world. The Harvard fund assists qualifying students from the UAE and Middle East region to pursue the same creative and artistic journeys as Dame Zaha Hadid.