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Interview with Zaha Hadid

Aired April 15, 2010 - 16:49:00   ET



BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With her esoteric designs and winning styles, Zaha Hadid is, in many ways, the first lady of modern architecture. Her works are recognized around the globe and she's the first woman awarded prestigious Pritzker Prize.

Some of her most notable buildings include the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati and the BMW Building in Germany. Early this year, she unveiled the much anticipated Maxxi, Rome's first modern art museum. And there's much buzz around her design of the London Aquatic Center for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Though opinion is divided about the work of the Baghdad-born architect, her opinions are always worth listening to.

ZAHA HADID, ARCHITECT: I think art is really about well-being and -- and that you have to feel good in (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON: Connecting the world one building at a time, Zaha Hadid is your Connector of the Day.


ANDERSON: Well, from fire stations and bridges to museums and even a ski jump, Zaha Hadid is molding a new world.

And I caught up with this visionary a little earlier. And first I asked her about one project creating a lot of buzz here in London, of course. It's the Aquatic Center for the 2012 Olympics.

This is what she said.


HADID: And I knew it was going to really make a -- to create one single roof supported at three points, you know, which is like a wave, which obviously is going to be like a water and wave and -- and -- and, you know, like it becomes in the legacy mode a pavilion and a park, and then a big park. And during the Games, it becomes, you know, where the -- all the athletes go. And then there are three pools and a sauna.

ANDERSON: Well get to some viewers' questions, shall we?

Gabriella has written in. She says: "What is your first approach when beginning a new project?"

HADID: It really depends. I mean and -- at the beginning, it was more that, you know, one year was more like sketching. And I've always worked -- I mean when I worked alone I would sketch and then we would develop it. But as we became more and more of a team, I think that these - - when we start, it becomes more how to feed back from each other as a team.

And so it's -- it's nice with a sketch, it's a lot nicer with a modem (INAUDIBLE) you know on a computer. But I think it's -- it's about how you, as a team, can add onto these ideas at the same time.

ANDERSON: Jurgen from Suriname has written in. He wants to know simply this: "What's your favorite building in the world?"

HADID: I think there are so many great projects. You know, there are from the new classical to the baroque to the modern period. There are lots of really great things. But I mean there are tremendous works, of course, in Europe now and in America and -- and in South America from the '60s, in Europe in the '60s. So there are lots -- lots of really -- one cannot single-handedly say I have a particular favorite, of work of Niece (ph) and Corben (ph) and Oscar Niemeyer and from the contemporaries, the tremendous stuff from -- from Gary Roncorhas (ph). All these people really added to the repertoire, let's say.

And it's been an incredible, I think, period of innovation in the last 20 or 30 years.

ANDERSON: Alejandro's writing to us from Madrid. He says: "You're a very strong character. How does that energy become architecture? And do you think an artist's work can, in turn, influence his -- his or her character?"

Good question.

HADID: Well, I mean, of course, you know, you are -- you are what you are and the work, you know, comes of -- not from the character, but I think that if you have a, you know, a strong well or a -- you know, you have a particular interest and research, that impacts on the work.

I -- and I think, you know, one has to have a -- in architecture, one has to have a tremendous well. And survival, you know, I mean it's a good -- really a very tough profession. And it's very demanding. And if you are, yourself, very ambitious and very demanding of your own goals and how you can, you know, improve on the work or increase the repertoire, then it is, of course, an extension of certain aspects of your personality.


HADID: But I don't think -- but the call -- the call, it really is a team project, you know?

It has the influence of many people. And that...


HADID: -- that is -- that is a very interesting dynamic.

ANDERSON: The last question from Hamid tonight: "Are you planning to design anything or start a new project in Baghdad?"

HADID: Well, I would love to do something in Iraq. And, you know, I was -- I'm born in Baghdad. I was born in Baghdad. And it's a fabulous city. I hope that something comes up soon. But we're -- we're waiting.

ANDERSON: I'm sure Zaha Hadid will not need to wait too long.

Tomorrow, we're going to connect you with a man making his name on a different stage. R&B sensation Usher. The American singer got his start when he was just 13. Well, he's now got five Grammys under his belt and is one of the most influential musicians in the world.

So is there something that you want to ask Usher?

It's your part of the show, of course. Do remember that. Send us your questions. Remember to tell us where you're writing in from. Head to