Pritzker prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid does not appreciate the criticism that has been leveled at her of late. She recently announced plans to sue The New York Review of Books and architecture critic Martin Filler over alleged defamatory statements in a recent book review. Specifically, Hadid takes exception with the implication that she was indifferent to the alleged difficult working conditions of migrant workers on high-profile construction projects in the Middle East, including her own. She is also upset that Filler used large portions of his June 5 review of Rowan Moore’s “Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture” to question her success and fault her personality, although she was not a prominent character in the book.
In her complaint, Hadid pointed to a passage where Filler said she “unashamedly disavowed any responsibility, let alone concern” for an “estimated one thousand laborers who have perished” while building the Al Wakrah stadium she designed for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Hadid claimed that passage was based on a February 2014 statement taken out of context, before work on the stadium had begun, and that there were no worker deaths at the site.
Oren Warshavsky, a partner at Baker & Hostetler representing Hadid, said in a statement that Filler’s review was “a personal attack disguised as a book review and has exposed Ms. Hadid to public ridicule and contempt, depriving her of confidence and injuring her good name and reputation.”
The complaint was filed with the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. Hadid is seeking damages, a halt to the review’s continued publication, and a retraction. So far Robert Silvers, editor of The New York Review of Books, has declined to comment, and Filler could not immediately be reached.