Design + Architecture

The Visionaries

by Suzanne Wales


The vision: Radically different, even chaotic, designs that emphasize fragmentation and fluidity

Claim to fame: Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art, Cincinnati

Until relatively recently, Baghdad-born Zaha Hadid was known for out-there designs—considered better in theory than in practice—that no one actually commissioned. Her breakthrough moment came at the unveiling of Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center in 2003. Although it now appears rather tame compared to her subsequent fluid proposals—that often appear as if they have been made of molten materials—it is a coherent example of her skill. Hadid made the most of the shallow site by placing the galleries vertically, like uneven building blocks, leaving her trademark liquidity for the foyer, in the form of an "urban carpet" of concrete that sweeps seamlessly from the sidewalk and inside to the rear of the building. Hadid aimed to design a building that engages with the community, "hopefully helping to broaden the audience for contemporary art," which is all the more significant when you consider the museum was prosecuted for displaying a Mapplethorpe exhibit back in the '90s.

Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art
Tel: 513 345 8400

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