April 1, 2016
As you have all likely heard by now, an extraordinary human being, architect Zaha Hadid, passed away this week. She was one of the world’s greatest architects of the late 20th and 21st Century. Visionary and highly experimental, her legacy is formidable. She leaves behind a body of work from buildings to furniture, footwear and cars that delight and astound people in all corners of the globe. She also leaves behind a very lucrative and diversified business portfolio that includes, among others, restaurants, fashion wear, women’s enterprises and sports teams. We – and the world of architecture – have lost a star.
Her talent was not lost on Kasian. In the past, our firm associated with Zaha Hadid Architects on two pursuits – the UBC West Mall Reimagination Project (including the transit hub, aquatic centre and library), and the Alberta Art Gallery, a design competition centred around a massive renovation and addition to the former Edmonton Art Gallery. Although we were not selected for either (actually, we won the Edmonton competition but were victims of a political move), we embraced her inspirational and creative thinking, and became bolder as a design firm for it.
On a personal level, as the chair of the Banff Sessions in the late 1980’s, I had the great fortune of hosting Zaha. Before driving her back to the Calgary International Airport for her flight back to London, we went for an early dinner at the Banff Springs Hotel. Just as we sat down, we spotted a herd of elk out the restaurant window. When the waiter came to take our order, Zaha asked – and I’ll never forget this – if it was possible to “get barbequed meat from a wild animal” for dinner. Being the top-notch restaurant that it is, they delivered a double helping of roasted elk. Zaha was impressed, and literally wolfed down the entire plate. Later, as we rushed to the airport, I took the quick route through suburban Calgary. I could see she was tired, and had her eyes shut. “You must be exhausted and doing a little catching up,” I mused. “I’m not tired,” she said, “I can’t stand what I’m looking at!”
Senior Principal, Vice President – Institutional