"They thought I was a troublemaker" says Zaha Hadid

Although the kids [in the office] always go to him because he says yes to everything.” We don’t have anything there. Different projects I’m proud of in different ways. The British architect also criticised Grimshaw Architects’   Patricia and Phillip   Frost Museum of Science – which is being built across the road from her One Thousand Museum residential tower in Miami. I understand it’s their town. “They don’t want a foreigner to build in Tokyo for a national stadium,” she said. What can I do? People think I only do cultural buildings and I don’t. SOM, KPF, [Raphael] Viñoly, they’re building all the towers. “And I think America was very obsessed with this in the 1960s. We’ve worked together for 25 years so we have a system where we have similar thoughts on projects and how we should move forward. He’s a very good architect but this is not his best moment. We can’t improvise.’ I learned to improvise after that! We were doing this presentation and nobody could make a model, nobody could make a drawing and I said: ‘If you want us to do a good model [then] why don’t you teach us how to do that? Whether it’s Sejima, Toyo Ito, or Maki or Isozaki or Kengo Kuma. On being an outsider:
“I’m not part of a network, out playing golf or schmoozing on a boat with the fellow guys. “It’s not that much more difficult to build. I feel that I should be recognised as an architect first.”
Hadid also hit back at Japanese architects who have criticised her design for the 2020 Olympic stadium in Tokyo, describing their comments as “embarrassing for them”. The structure we designed allows you certain things within the interior space, and how it’s meeting the ground. But they’re hypocrites. Actually, it went from a very bad year to a very powerful year. It saddens me. I am a constant critic in the office. That’s also interesting because you don’t have everything popping up differently from the next neighbouring thing. Feature: Zaha Hadid was in a garrulous mood at a panel discussion in Miami earlier this month, discussing the lack of women in architecture, describing her “untraditional” education and recalling the stressful early days of her practice, when “there were years when I didn’t sleep for four nights in a row”. Related story: Zaha Hadid says Tokyo stadium criticism is “embarrassing” for Japanese architects”It really is a disappointing project,” she said. The scale is very exciting for us, we’re able to do every scale. You were obliterated from business. On American architects:
“Americans are building a lot in Europe. I’m sorry, but it’s really a letdown.”
Hadid’s One Thousand Museum residential tower in MiamiThe panel discussion between Hadid, her firm’s   director   Patrick Schumacher and selected journalists, took place after the groundbreaking ceremony for One Thousand Museum, a 60-storey condominium tower on Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami. On her favourite projects:
“I have my personal favourites because they were seminal projects at the time they were done. They trained us on how to build an idea and concept. There’s no masterplan policy that says ‘this area has a high-rise’; they pop-up wherever. We were lucky to win them, so we got forward on that. I’m sorry, but it’s really a letdown. For me, that was a great reward to be entered in these competitions and sometimes win them, sometimes lose them. “It doesn’t look like a museum. If they are against the idea of doing a stadium on that site, I don’t think they should have entered the competition. “I went to school in London at a time when everyone was obsessed with an idea. But they were mostly for public buildings. Not many towers. It’s a present from me. Whenever I give lectures, I get lots of women come up to me wanting reassurance that it’s a trip worth taking.”
On skyscrapers:
“I think it’s very interesting. If you didn’t have an idea, you were a monkey. Completely. On small projects:
“In our office, we’re proud of the very small things we do. It’s a mystery to me what happens to them afterwards. Many of them were friends of mine, actually the ones which I supported before like Toyo Ito, who I worked with on a project in London. They don’t want a foreigner to build in Tokyo for a national stadium. “The fact that they lost is their problem, they lost the competition. “In Europe [Skyscrapers] were always connected to corporate offices. But we have done cancer research facilities, schools, ski jumps, pools. And then on the top floor we have a double-height space and public space, and the swimming pool. “It’s a present from me.”
Speaking about her education at the Architectural Association school in London, the 64-year-old said: “They thought I was a troublemaker.” But she also described the “delirious” period when her office worked furiously on early, seminal projects such as the Vitra Fire Station, which she describes as one of her favourites. “In Beijing, they don’t design one [skyscraper]; they build an ensemble, which is always three or four buildings. For example, I can talk about London. Read on for edited highlights of   the discussion:
On her architectural education:
“They thought I was a troublemaker. That has changed because I think that now many more people want to be in a new-build, and they want to have a views and a concierge like in America. In Europe you have less towers, but in London now they’re becoming tall and they are a bit random. Cities are growing. People ask ‘what is it like to be a woman architect?’ and I say ‘I don’t know, I’ve not been a man’. I feel that I should be recognised as an architect first. “It was a very exciting time.”
Grimshaw Architects’s Patricia and Phillip   Frost Museum of Science in MiamiDespite being the world’s most famous female   architect, she said: “I don’t generally think of myself always as a woman architect, as I’ve said many times. Because we don’t know. And I think Grimshaw should not do this. It doesn’t look like a museum. As long as the project has a central focus, then you can adjust things with it.”
On women architects:
“There are lots of women in school and whenever I teach I have a lot of women students, all from the beginning. In America there is usually a column grid and repeating the floors, and the idea was to really accentuate the entrance of the structure on the exterior – to make it part of the formulas, but it also operates as part of the structure.”
On Grimshaw Architect’s Patricia and Phillip   Frost Museum of Science in Miami:
“Unfortunately it really is a disappointing project. These were the years when I didn’t sleep for four nights in a row, or weeks. To develop ideas of form on their own was not really enough in terms of programming. Vitra Fire Station, the MAXXI Museum in Rome, these buildings were an incredible pain in the office. And they are easier things sometimes. We’re doing the stadiums in both Qatar and Japan, we do a lot of infrastructure, like bridges, railway stations. It looks like a museum that somebody built when they had no ideas 70 years ago.

Updated: 20.12.2014 — 13:06