Zaha Hadid was one of the wealthiest and most successful architects in the world before her untimely death. Her legacy includes droves of architectural masterpieces such as the London Aquatics Center for the 2012 Olympics and the stunning Guangzhou Opera House. At the time of her death, Zaha Hadid’s net worth was $81.7 million, as was disclosed in her will.

The Iraqi-British architect, designer, and artist, known in the world as the ‘queen of the curve’ was the first woman architect to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize, which was one of many awards she won over the years.

In this post, we’ll delve into her life and career, as well as the factors that contributed to her incredible wealth.

Zaha Hadid’s Net Worth Breakdown:

Famous architects earn a fortune from their projects and, in Hadid’s case, she has earned a fortune from the many competitions she won as well.

However, even though she was one of the richest architects in the world, the details of her assets and earnings per project were vaguely disclosed during her life, as can be expected, making it hard to narrow down her wealth before her passing.

When Hadid’s will was obtained by the Architects’ Journal and the details were disclosed to the public, the world learned the exact net worth of Zaha Hadid at the time of her death: $81.7 million or £67,249,458. This calculation was filed on 14 December 2016 in the high court and includes assets in real estate, her multi-million dollar business, and more.

More precisely, the architect left behind over £70.8 million when she died in 2016, but she had over £3 million of debt, which reduced her fortune to this amount.

Asset or Income Source Contribution to Net Worth
Debt at death $3.75 million (£3 million)
Architecture & design earnings Unknown but likely well over $50 million
Real estate portfolio $8+ million
Total Net Worth $81.7 million

Zaha Hadid Net Worth: Early Life and Family

Dame Zaha Mohammad Hadid, or, as we know her, Zaha Hadid, was born on October 31, 1950, in Baghdad, Iraq. She was born to an upper-class family to father, Muhammad al-Hajj Husayn Hadid, a wealthy industrialist from Mosul and the co-founder of the al-Ahali Group, a political organization from the 1930s, and mother, Wajiha al-Sabunji, an artist.

Hadid’s father co-founded the National Democratic Party in Iraq and was a Minister of Finance for the government of General Abd al-Karim Qasim after the overthrow of the monarch in 1958.

As a child, Zaha Hadid and her family went on trips to the ancient Sumerian cities in Iraq, where she first found her passion for architecture. With her mother being an artist, she learned how to draw from an early age, a skill that would later become a key part of her architectural practice.

Young Zaha Hadid
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“My father took us to see the Sumerian cities. Then we went by boat and then on a smaller boat made of reeds to visit villages in the marshes. The beauty of the landscape, where sand, water, reeds, birds, buildings, and people all somehow flowed together has never left me,”  she shared with The Guardian.

Zaha Hadid studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. Following her graduation in 1968, aged 22, she moved to London to train for the Architectural Association School of Architecture, where she met Elia Zenghelis, Rem Koolhaas, and Bernard Tschumi, her instructors.

Later in life, her former professors would describe Zaha Hadid as a ‘planet in her own orbit’ and ‘the most outstanding pupil I ever taught’.

At that point, Hadid was fascinated by the Russian avant-garde while studying the work of the famed artist Kazimir Malevich. This particular interest and the influence of Malevich are quite apparent in her early drawings.

After she graduated from the architectural school, Zaha Hadid joined Zenghelis and Koolhaas, her professors, in Rotterdam, at their practice, an architectural firm named Office of Modern Architecture.

Zaha Hadid and a man
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Zaha Hadid Net Worth: Building Her Architectural Career

Even while at school, it was evident that Zaha Hadid would be a big name in the world of architecture. She jumped into the career world straight out of school, building a career that would make her one of the most valued architects in the world.

Early Career

Following her graduation from the architectural school in 1977, Zaha Hadid went to work for her former professors Zenghelis and Koolhaas, at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture in the Netherlands. This was when she met Peter Rice, an architectural engineer who helped her get her career off of the ground.

In 1979, when Hadid became a naturalized citizen of the UK, she opened her own architectural firm called Zaha Hadid Architects in London. She established her practice in a converted school in Clerkenwell.

Unlike other architects in the world who mostly stuck to the trends that were popular at the time, namely postmodernism, she took on a different approach to architecture, rapidly making a name for herself and standing out.

After the founding of her business, Hadid started teaching architecture at various academic institutions including:

  • Architectural Association
  • Hochschule fur Bildende Kunste (HFBK Hamburg)
  • The Knowlton School of Architecture, Ohio State University
  • University of Illinois, Chicago
  • Architectural Design professor at the Yale School of Architecture
  • Masters Studio at Columbia University
  • Kenzo Tange visiting Professor of Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design
  • Guest professor at the Institute of Architecture, University of Applied Arts in Vienna

While she was lecturing, Hadid’s radical projects and designs were published in many architectural journals, but they remained unbuilt, including the plan for Peak in Hong Kong from 1983, and her plan for the opera house to be located in Cardiff in 1994.

Even though the Cardiff architectural design was selected as best by the competition jury, the Millennium Commission refused to fund it, so this project of Hadid was never built.

Zaha Hadid's drawing
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Hadid eventually built up on her international fame in 1988 when she was chosen as one of seven architects to show her paintings and drawings in the exhibition called “Deconstructivism in Architecture,” held at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Early Architectural Projects of Zaha Hadid

Over the years, Hadid collaborated with the Guggenheim Museum on projects such as the design of the museum’s exhibition named ‘The Great Utopia’.

One of Hadid’s first clients when she gained international fame was Rolf Fehlbaum, the director general of Vitra, a Swiss furniture company. In 1993, Fehlbaum invited Hadid to design a fire station for the Vitra factory, one that later turned into an exhibit space displaying the works of well-known architects in the world.

Zaha Hadid's building
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This marked the beginning of a very profitable career for the young architect. Her initial projects included:

  • Spittelau Viaducts Housing Project, a project for the redevelopment of the area near the Danube Canal, which included five buildings as part of the Neo-Futurist structures. The project was later reduced to three buildings and was finalized in 2005.
  • Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. She won a competition against well-known architects like Rem Koolhaas and was the first woman to design an art museum in the US. This project lasted from 1997 to its completion in 2003. As gratitude for the work of Hadid and Santiago Calatrava, the designer of the Quadracci Pavillion in the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, for their contribution to the stimulation of economic development in the US, the mayor of Milwaukee declared September 16 ‘Santiago Calatrava Day’.
  • Bergisel Ski Jump, a new ski jump in Innsbruck, Austria, to replace the old building that dates back to 1926 and was used in the Winter Olympics This project lasted from 1999 to 2002.
Zaha Hadid's tower building
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  • Phaeno Science Center, a project she won in an international competition in Wolfsburg, Germany, is slightly larger compared to the Cincinnati Museum. The science center was completed in five years, from 2000 to 2005.
Zaha Hadid's massive complex
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  • BMW’s Administration Building. In 2002, Hadid won another competition to design the administrative building for the auto manufacturer BMW in Leipzig, Germany, creating the entrance and ‘nerve center’ of a complex consisting of several buildings, designed by different architects.
Zaha Hadid's skyscraper
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Winning the Pritzker Architecture Prize

In 2004, Zaha Hadid won the most prestigious award in the architectural industry, the Pritzker Architecture Prize. At this point, she had completed four buildings altogether, including the fire station, the ski lift, and the Contemporary Art Center, as well as the Car Park and Terminus Hoenheim North located in France.

Following this major success, Hadid was already widely regarded as one of the top architects in the world and consequently given more and bigger projects to work on.

Zaha Hadid Net Worth: Her Legacy Lives On Through Her Marvels

The portfolio of the renowned architect is huge today, so we will narrow down the list to her biggest and most popular designs and projects. Here is what Hadid created for the architectural world:

  • Sheikh Zayed Bridge (1997-2010), which honors Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and is located between Abu Dhabi’s mainland and Abu Dhabi.
  • Zaragoza Bridge Pavilion (2005-2008), which was created for Expo 2008 and was built as an exhibit hall and a bridge at the same time.
Zaha Hadid's curved building
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  • The National Museum of Arts of the 21st Century (1998-2010), located in Rome, with a structure that seems to be flowing and moving.
  • Guangzhou Opera House (2003-2010), which she built after winning an international competition in China. The opera house cost $300 million to build and comprises a theatre, an entry hall, and a salon.

Guangzhou Opera House designed by Zaha Hadid

  • CMA CGM Tower (2006-2011) was the first tower built by the designer, located in Marseille, France.
  • London Aquatics Centre (2005-2011), which she built for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
  • Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum (2007-2012), located at Michigan State University in East Lansing, was Hadid’s second project in the United States.
Zaha Hadid's Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum
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  • Heydar Aliyev Center (2007-2013) was one of the last completed projects before Hadid’s demise, located in Baku, Azerbaijan. The center has three auditoriums, a museum, and a library spread across 10,901 square meters.
  • Galaxy SOHO Complex (2008-2012), located in Beijing, China, was built as a combination of offices and a commercial center.
  • Innovation Tower (2007-2014), located in Hong Kong as part of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, is spread across 15 floors and 15,000 square meters of space.
  • Dongdaemun Design Plaza (2007-2013) is one of the biggest buildings in Seoul, South Korea. She worked on this project simultaneously with the Heydar Aliyev Center. The plaza’s name means ‘Great Gate of the East’.
Zaha Hadid's Great Gate of the East
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  • Library and Learning Center (2008-2013), designed as part of the new University of Economics in Vienna.
  • Serpentine Sackler North Gallery (2009-2013), which is a combination of two parts: a 19th-century classical structure titled The Magazine and a 21st-century tensile structure.
Zaha Hadid's Serpentine Sackler North Gallery
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  • Nanjing International Youth Cultural Centre (2012-2015), which includes two skyscrapers in Nanjing, China.
  • Issam Fares Institute (2014), located on the campus of the American University of Beirut. Hadid won the Agha Khan Award in 2016 for this design.
  • Port Authority (2016), the only government building the architect designed in her career, is located in Antwerp, Belgium.
one of Zaha Hadid's most ambitious buildings
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Interior Work

In addition to designing buildings, Zaha Hadid also took on some interior design work, much of which went through Zaha Hadid Design or ZHD, her famous design studio.

Initially, she did some high-profile work such as the Mind Zone at the Millenium Dome, London, and she created furniture installations for the Home House private members club located in Marylebone.

In 2007, she designed Dune Formations for the David Gill Gallery. That same year, she designed the Moon System Sofa for B&B Italia, a furniture manufacturer.

In 2009, Hadid got the opportunity to work with Lacoste to create a high-fashion boot, as well as with Triflow Concepts to produce two designs for them.

In 2013, she started working on the Liquid Glacial series of tables for the David Gill Gallery, which was further extended in 2015 and 2016. In 2016, it was this gallery that launched her final collection of furniture, which was called Ultra Stellar.

Zaha Hadid furniture design
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Zaha Hadid’s Death

On March 31, 2016, Zaha Hadid died of a heart attack at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami, aged 65. She was being treated for bronchitis at the time, but it was quite the shock nonetheless.

The public learned of her untimely demise from a statement issued by Hadid’s London design studio, which read: “Zaha Hadid was widely regarded to be the greatest female architect in the world today.”

Zaha’s Will and Inheritance

In her will, Hadid left a gift of £500,000 to her business partner Schumacher, who was also named executor of her will alongside her niece Rana Hadid, the former Serpentine Gallery chairman Peter Palumbo, and the artist Brian Clarke.

These four executors were named the trustees of the charity called Zaha Hadid Foundation. In her will, she gave them 125 years from the date of her death to distribute her estate and, if they don’t agree on how they’ll do this, the entire estate will go to the Zaha Hadid Foundation.

Other beneficiaries in her will include charities, her companies, and other family members. The will also shows that she is leaving her architecture practice, which she owned in its entirety, in a trust. At the time of her death, the company employed over 400 people and had a turnover of $54.3 million a year.

In her will, Hadid also gave executors power to distribute some of her income from the businesses to employees and office holders alongside her foundation.

Posthumous Projects

Following her death, the world started several posthumous projects in her name, based on designs she worked on. These include:

  • Salerno Maritime Terminal in Italy (2000-2016)
  • Central Bank of Iraq Tower (not completed yet)
  • Masarycka in Prague (2015-2023)
  • Grand Théatre de Rabat (not completed yet)
  • Scorpion Tower of Miami or the One Thousand Museum
  • Sky Park Residential buildings in Bratislava (still under construction)
  • Mercury Tower in Malta (2016-2022)
Zaha Hadid designed skyscraper
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Zaha Hadid’s Many Awards and Accolades

Hadid was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Prize in 2004, but she won many other awards throughout her career. In 2010 and 2011, she received the UK’s most prestigious award, the Stirling Prize. In 2012, Queen Elizabeth II appointed her a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her architectural services.

Just a month preceding her death, Hadid became the first woman to win the Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects.

These are just a few of the awards and accolades she won over the years. Some other awards include:

  • Named honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters
  • Named honorary fellow of the American Institute of Architects
  • Added to the board of trustees of The Architecture Foundation
  • Elected as a Royal Academician
  • Honored with a spanning of her work at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2006
  • Won the RIBA European Award in 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2010
  • Awarded an honorary degree from the American University of Beirut
  • Ranked on the Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful Women
  • Ranked as one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK on BBC Radio 4
  • Won the Veuve Clicquot UK Business Woman Award in 2013
  • Had a square in Antwerp, Belgium, named after her in 2016
Zaha Hadid holding a fancy bottle
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Zaha Hadid Net Worth: Other Investments and Assets

Aside from her architectural projects and her work through her architectural firm, there is very little known about how Hadid spent her millions. We did find some information on her own real estate assets, though.

Real Estate Assets

In 2021, though, her one-time condo in Miami Beach was put on the market for less than $8 million. It was located within the Residences at W South Beach, combining three units that she turned into a lavish home at one time. This is reportedly where she stayed while designing the One Thousand Museum tower.

During her career, Hadid reportedly designed only two residential buildings, one in Moscow and the other in Belgravia, London, though it is unclear if she lived in them or designed them for clients.

Seeing how she traveled the world working on different projects and never married, Zaha Hadid most likely lived in many different places, which is probably why she hasn’t invested a lot in personal real estate.

What Can We Learn from Zaha Hadid’s Story?

Zaha Hadid’s remarkable journey from the cultural center of Baghdad to the summits of global architecture offers profound lessons in innovation, creative vision, and resilience. Despite facing many barriers as a woman in the architecture world which is a male-dominated field, Hadid fearlessly challenged the conventions and redefined the boundaries of architectural design.

Hadid’s bold, futuristic architectural style, characterized by avant-garde forms and sweeping curves, revolutionized the built environment and created a legacy that will capture the imagination of millions worldwide for centuries. Her work is so highly praised that it is impossible to pinpoint her most innovative project or her most significant project.

The famous architect demonstrated a relentless pursuit of excellence and a commitment to pushing the limits of creativity, which should serve as an inspiration for aspiring innovators, designers, and architects.

Not only is Hadid known for her contributions to world architecture, but she is also known for her philanthropic endeavors and her dedication to nurturing future talent through mentorship and teaching.

Her excellence in architectural design, as well as her unique approach, swiftly made her one of the world’s richest architects, leaving an indelible imprint on the architectural landscape. Her legacy as the queen of the curve is a testament to the power of passion and dedication to one’s craft.