Grieving and Going Forward: How Zaha Hadid’s Firm Plans to Move On

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Grieving and Going Forward: How Zaha Hadid’s Firm Plans to Move On
Patrik Schumacher of Zaha Hadid Architects / © David Azia

White flowers fill the design gallery, with commemorative portraits placed amid undulating furniture of burnished polyurethane and marble. A condolence book rests on a stand, a construction of memories. In the main studios, nearly 400 employees labor away, deadlines pressing.

The people work quietly, still in shock. The woman who brought them here, the remarkable architect Zaha Hadid, born in Baghdad and famous worldwide, died suddenly on March 31 in Miami at the age of 65.

The sadness is strong; the star is gone. In a celebrity-driven culture, what happens to the corporation built around the star, even in essentially collaborative work like architecture?

At the Hadid firm, it is falling to Patrik Schumacher, the thoughtful German who worked alongside Ms. Hadid for 28 years and was her senior partner, to pick up the pieces: keep the staff together, the work flow strong and the clients happy. In a recent interview, he said the firm was moving forward with existing projects, including a stadium for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar; a tower in New York; a bridge in Taipei, Taiwan; and the Iraqi Parliament.

Even more, he must step forward to give the firm, Zaha Hadid Architects, a new identity while honoring and maintaining Ms. Hadid’s sinuous legacy.

“It’s tough,” Mr. Schumacher said, describing the loss of the ferocious, frank Ms. Hadid. “But any star in architecture has been born in the discipline itself, and emerges through schools, competitions and colleagues.”

Speaking in the Victorian school building in the Clerkenwell district of London, where the studio was founded in 1979, Mr. Schumacher said: “We want to tell the world that we’re still a viable, vibrant address for major work of cultural importance.” […]

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