Here is my monthly blog post from the last issue of Traditional Building. The post was written shortly after the passing of Dame Zaha Hadid, one of my least favorite architects. “Walking in modernist shoes: Zaha Hadid” was my attempt to try to see things from the perspective of the other guy. Here are the first two paragraphs of that post:
A passage I cannot now locate in “Master and Commander,” by Patrick O’Brian, has ship’s surgeon (and Admiralty spy) Stephen Maturin urging Captain Aubrey to “walk in the other man’s shoes” before leaping to criticize. When architect Zaha Hadid died the other day, I tried to walk in her shoes. They did not fit.
Speaking of shoes, Hadid in her time designed a few pair. Her most celebrated shoe could as easily be, were it larger, a Hadid building – space for a foot on the inside and a shiny metal thingamajig on the outside, looking as far from a lady’s shoe as possible. Her buildings all have doors, and interior spaces from which one may ignore its exterior – as Guy de Maupassant dined at the Eiffel Tower to avoid looking at it. These are the only concessions to tradition in her entire oeuvre.
Feel free to criticize my attempt to see things from the other guy’s shoes, as it were, especially in light of my most recent Traditional Building blog post, which replies to the Forum essay by architectural historian Paul Ranogajec, who thinks classicists could benefit by taking the intellectual discourse of our era more seriously. I expect my post’s reply to be up on the TB website any moment, if it is not there already. I will link to it when it shows up.
Meanwhile, here is my own blog’s post “Dame Zaha, rest in peace,” written the day of her passing. Of course, it did not make it into any of the roundups of architectural commentary on Zaha’s death and her legacy. Surprise! But then it really wasn’t about her, was it? Rather it was about her benighted profession.