Starchitect Zaha Hadid has filed a defamation lawsuit against the New York Review of Books, as well as architecture critic Martin Filler, over a bad review, Reuters reports. And it wasn’t even a review of her book. The review in question was written regarding British journalist Rowan Moore’s recently released book Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture for the June 5, 2014 issue of the publication.
According to a partner from Hadid’s legal representatives in the case, BakerHostetler, who spoke to Reuters, it 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.” Hadid claims that Filler implied that she lacked concern regarding the plight of migrant construction workers in the Middle East, where many of her recent commissions are located, including a stadium for the controversial 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
A documentary released earlier this year claimed that the stadium and other building projects related to the World Cup is on pace to kill 4,000 workers by 2022. In his review, Filler reportedly writes that Hadid, “unashamedly disavowed any responsibility, let alone concern [for the] estimated one thousand laborers who have perished” during the construction of the stadium. Hadid countered that there have been no deaths on the site.
That jibes with a statement released by media and marketing director of Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee, Nasser Al Khater, released after the documentary. “Contrary to what the international media says there has not been a single injury or death on the World Cup projects,” he told Reuters. “It’s not possible to have 400 deaths when you are still digging a hole in the ground so I would like to make sure this matter is put to rest.”
Though she does not play a significant role in Moore’s book, according to Hadid, Filler uses significant portions of the rest of the review towards discrediting her career. She filed the defamation suit with the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, requesting damages, the review’s retraction, and an order blocking any further distribution. New York Review of Books editor Robert Silvers told Reuters that he was unaware of the suit and declined to comment further.
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