News: Zaha Hadid
has filed a law suit against the New York Review of Books and
architecture critic Martin Filler after allegedly defamatory comments
about her attitude to migrant workers were published as part of a book
Hadid filed the complaint with the New York State Supreme Court in
Manhattan yesterday, claiming that Martin Filler had falsely implied
that she did not care about the working conditions of migrant workers on
her projects in the Middle East.
Filler’s comments were made in a review of Rowan Moore’s Why We
Build: Power and Desire in Architecture titled The Insolsence of
Architecture, which was published on June 5. At time of writing it was
still available to subscribers online on the New York Review of Books website.
Hadid, who became the first female architect to receive the Pritzker Prize in 2004, is seeking damages from the New York Review of Books and a full retraction, as well as an immediate injunction on the review.
“Mr. Filler wrote a review of a 370-page book on architecture in
which Ms. Hadid’s name is mentioned in fewer than 20 pages. Mr. Filler’s
book review, by contrast, mentions Ms. Hadid in nearly two-thirds of
its paragraphs,” said a statement from BakerHostetler, the law firm who
filed the complaint on behalf of Hadid.
“Nearly all of those references are used to call our client’s success
into question or to characterise her personality as difficult. It is 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 statement continued.
The complaint also states that Filler had taken comments made by
Hadid earlier this year about the deaths of migrant workers in Qatar out
It says that Filler singled out and accused Hadid of “not taking
responsibility and showing no concern” for alleged worker deaths on her
own project for the Qatar 2022 World Cup – the Al Wakrah Stadium – which had not started on site when the comments were made.
“As of June 2014, the date of publication of Mr. Filler’s article,
only a few weeks of the initial stages of enabling works had begun on
the Al Wakrah site, with construction set to begin in 2015,” said Oren
Warshavsk, a partner at BakerHostetler.
“There have been no worker deaths at the Al Wakrah site.”
Hadid’s statements were made at a press conference for the reopening of her Olympic swimming pool in London in February.
Asked about conditions on construction projects for the Qatar World
Cup, Hadid said that it was responsibility of the Qatari government not
architects to address issues relating to worker deaths.
“It’s not my duty as an architect to look at it,” said Hadid. “I
cannot do anything about it because I have no power to do anything about
it. I think it’s a problem anywhere in the world. But, as I said, I
think there are discrepancies all over the world.”
“I have nothing to do with the workers,” she added. “I think that’s
an issue the government – if there’s a problem – should pick up.
Hopefully, these things will be resolved.”
The New York Review of Books did not respond to requests for further comment.
In his review, Filler wrote: “neither Moore nor I have any compunction about biting the hands that feed us”.
The dispute comes in the wake of a wave of controversy over the decision by London’s Design Museum to award Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Centre in Azerbaijan – a country with a poor human rights record.
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