Zaha Hadid

I’ve been looking through Forbes list of the 100 most powerful women, and was pleased to see Zaha Hadid clock in at #68.  At the starchitect level, architecture has been ridiculously male dominated since forever, and it’s nice to see a woman finally break through.  Plus, more of Hadid’s projects are actually being built now, so the “paper architect” smear has less teeth.

However, the Forbes list raises a lot of questions, because how powerful is an architect really?  I mean, unless you buy into theories of architectural determinism, all they do is make buildings.  Do they really belong on a list with government and business executives that make life and death decisions about their citizens/employees?  For that matter, how “powerful” is the Queen of England?  Or Oprah?  I guess they have the individual equivalent of soft power, but the list still seems to be comparing unlike objects.

3 comments to Zaha Hadid

  • I agree with you that it’s quite surprising that any architect would be ranked among the most ‘powerful’ people in the world. It seems that the ranking defined power as the amount of influence, of which architects can possess a lot. For as long as architecture is the art of consciously reshaping the human environment, then no one can ever escape architecture. You can avoid seeing paintings, sculpture, read literature, or buy a particular brand of product, but you can’t avoid some form of shelter. Good for Ms. Hadid, since in many ways, it’s probably even more difficult for a woman to rise in international architectural stardom than to manage a large corporation or even become a cabinet appointee.

  • This broader definition of ‘power’ also makes for a more interesting list, because all the important CEOs bracketing Hadid were pretty meaningless to me, while seeing her made me smile. Of course, the business execs were probably common names to regular Forbes readers, so maybe they had the opposite reaction.

    Anyway: you make a good case for architecture’s worldly impact.

  • She is currently the best architect. The buildings designed by her own unique architecture.

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