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Throwing bricks at a master-builder without grounds

A rendering of the Al Wakrah stadium designed by Zaha Hadid Architects for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
A rendering of the Al Wakrah stadium designed by Zaha Hadid Architects for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar
Zaha Hadid Architects

I’ve thrown my share of bricks at architect Dame Zaha Hadid, most recently last year when she complained that England, where she’s headquartered, is sexist when it comes to hiring female architects,

Never mind, I said, that the BBC hailed her as the most powerful women in England, and never mind that she was duly noted in the British magazine New Statesman as one The World's 50 Most Influential figures. And never mind that these are no easy accomplishment given that her buildings – all decidedly futuristic and fragmented– are hard to look at.

You can add her design for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar to the hard-to-look-at stuff. You may remember my objections to her stadium plan which is supposed to suggest a fishing boat amid lapping waves, but instead suggests female genitalia.

But the hits she’s taking for the problems of the construction workers in Qatar aren’t fair.
I’m on her side in her pushback against the many who fault her disregard for the poor labor conditions, including deaths, on the Qatar construction site. The ITUC, a labor-rights organization, estimates some 4,000 may die before the Cup begins. Hadid denies having anything to do with such deaths and she’s right saying, “It’s not my duty as an architect to look at [labor abuses] . . . . I have no power to do anything about it.”

And while she didn’t say this, she should have asked why the construction company and contractors who have control over labor conditions aren't blamed? After all, when it comes to construction sites for bridges, skyscrapers and stadiums - it’s well known that injuries, even death, occur. Five deaths are said to have occurred during the construction of the Empire State Building. Twenty four lives were lost in the construction of Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge. One hundred fifty four were said to die in the building of the Hoover Dam.

Now, Dame Hadid, now, would be a good time to complain about sexism.

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