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Zaha's American Style

The architect's first U.S. commission

The experimental and influential designs and drawings of the Iraq-born, London-based architect Zaha Hadid, 53, have been exhibited worldwide for 20 years. But it's only within the past decade that any of her buildings have actually been built. The first, the Vitra Fire Station in Weil am Rhein, Germany, is considered a masterpiece; the new Bergisel ski jump in Innsbruck, Austria, is a stylish and typically dynamic Hadid design.

The architect's first U.S. commission, a new six-story building for Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center, opens May 31. It, too, is dynamic in form, but more in keeping with historical precedents. Looking most like a precarious pile of glass-and-concrete gift boxes, it draws inspiration from both Frank Lloyd Wright's Guggenheim spiral and Marcel Breuer's Whitney Museum inverted ziggurat. At a crossroads smack in the middle of downtown Cincinnati, Hadid's vision will greatly enhance the city's architectural landscape.