Zaha Hadid Architects Rejects Controversial Remarks Made by Successor Patrik Schumacher
London's mayor even weighed in.
Yesterday, Zaha Hadid Architects released an open letter that explicitly addresses and disavows the statements made two weeks ago by Patrik Schumacher—the successor of the late Zaha Hadid at the helm of her firm—at the World Architecture Festival in Berlin. There, Schumacher delivered his own “urban policy manifesto,” which included privatizing public spaces, scrapping social housing projects, and abolishing all government regulations on corporate developers.
Written by Rana Hadid, Peter Palumbo, and Brian Clarke—three trustees of the Zaha Hadid Foundation—the letter speaks on behalf of the broader studio, emphasizing the discordance of Schumacher’s statements with that of the company and Hadid’s legacy.
Reeling focus back to the passion and ideology that defined Zaha Hadid’s career and personal life, the letter asserts that Schumacher’s manifesto “does not reflect Zaha Hadid Architects’ past—and will not be our future,” while maintaining that the firm will “continue to innovate towards an architecture of inclusivity.”
In his presentation, Schumacher additionally criticized tenants of housing projects at the city’s center, arguing that living there is an undeserved locational privilege, all while defending foreign real estate investors and gentrification.
Although he had made contentious statements before, this marks the first time since Hadid’s passing that Schumacher managed to accrue such widespread attention. The speech was initially reported by Dezeen, only to be met with a wave of public responses in the weeks to follow.
Sadiq Khan, London’s current mayor, was one of the first to directly respond. The Evening Standard reported Khan’s claim that, regardless of whether Schumacher’s “out-of-touch” remarks were for shock value, “anyone who thinks abolishing affordable housing altogether, supporting buy-to-leave empty properties, and building on Hyde Park is the answer to London’s housing crisis doesn’t understand the first thing about our great city.”
Architects and critics have issued similar public responses, railing on Schumacher for poorly representing their industry.
In an opinion piece for Dezeen, the critic and designer Phineas Harper claims that “it’s time to stop listening to Patrik Schumacher,” due to the fact that he has repeatedly exhibited a small-mindedness that negates his credibility as a problem-solver. Another London-based designer, Ben Clark, expressed comparable distaste, calling Schumacher “economically illiterate” and insisting that his market ideals would only “intensify [the city’s] current crisis.”
In response to the backlash he has experienced since his presentation, Schumacher has also released a statement online in which he apologizes for causing his friends and colleagues embarrassment, while claiming that he “was hoping to stir a discussion and got much more than what [he] had bargained for.” Furthermore, he echoes the mission of Zaha Hadid Architects, vowing that he shares a “dream of a caring, inclusive, diverse society where everybody can flourish and realise his/her potential.”
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