“Zaha Hadid: A Celebration” event offers personal perspectives on Hadid, reveals fellowship fund in her honor

The Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) announced the establishment of the Zaha Hadid/Omniyat Fellowship Fund at the conclusion of its October 25 event “Zaha Hadid: A Celebration.” The announcement followed an evening of illuminating and at times deeply personal reflections on Hadid and her work, shared by a cast of Hadid’s friends and collaborators.

The fund will provide financial aid to qualifying students who are enrolled in the GSD’s Master in Architecture program and who are residents or citizens of the Middle East and North Africa region. It has been established by Omniyat, a real estate development firm based in Dubai, in tribute to Hadid’s work, life, and legacy.

“I am delighted that we are able to celebrate the achievements of Zaha Hadid as one of our generation’s most creative architects,” says Mohsen Mostafavi, Dean and Alexander and Victoria Wiley Professor of Design. “Her legacy will inspire a new cohort of talented designers who will hopefully aspire to change the world as much as she did.”

Mahdi Amjad, Omniyat’s Executive Chairman and Founder, established the Fellowship Fund in order to honor Hadid’s contributions to the fields of architecture and design. Amjad worked with Hadid in 2007 to design Omniyat’s flagship property, The Opus, in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa District.

“This scholarship will stand as a lasting tribute to this artist who brought people together,” Amjad said during the event. “It is my desire for this fellowship to find the next Zaha Hadid from our region.”

At the event, Dean Mostafavi—who met Hadid during their first day of school at the Architectural Association—introduced three of Hadid’s friends and collaborators before each shared sentiments and ruminations on her life and work. Elia Zenghelis, one of Hadid’s early teachers, reflected on Hadid both as a student and as an internationally recognized architect. Patrik Schumacher, Hadid’s professional partner and director of Zaha Hadid Architects, discussed their collaboration and the shifts over the years in the direction of the practice’s design approach. Xin Zhang spoke about being Hadid’s close friend and client; Zhang’s company, SOHO China, commissioned several of Hadid’s significant projects.

From left: GSD Dean Mohsen Mostafavi, Mahdi Amjad, Patrik Schumacher, Xin Zhang, and Elia Zenghelis.
From left: GSD Dean Mohsen Mostafavi, Mahdi Amjad, Patrik Schumacher, Xin Zhang, and Elia Zenghelis. Photo: Zara Tzanev

“I have never met someone as fearless as Zaha,” Zhang said. “Her work radiates that fearlessness and that authentic spirit.”

Hadid, who died in March 2016, was an Iraqi-born British architect and founder of Zaha Hadid Architects. She was the first female recipient of both the Pritzker Architecture Prize (2004) and the RIBA Gold Medal (2016). Hadid taught at the GSD in 1986 as a Design Critic in Architecture and in 1994 as the Kenzō Tange Visiting Professor of Architecture. She last lectured at the GSD in 2013, when she shared projects from her 400-person London-based office and reminisced about her time teaching at the School.

The Zaha Hadid/Omniyat Fellowship is anticipated to be awarded in the Spring 2017 semester and will be administered via the GSD’s admissions and financial aid process.

To learn more about “Zaha Hadid: A Celebration,” visit the Harvard Crimson’s coverage.