Zaha Hadid has the distinction of being the first woman ever to be honored with the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. This award was presented to her on May 31, 2004 at the beautiful State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Born in Bagdad, Iraq, Zaha studied and earned a degree in math at the American University of Beirut. She went on to study, and later to teach, at the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA School of Architecture) in London. She has taught in many other prominent architectural institutions and is currently professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna in Austria.
Zaha's inspiration to pursue the art and science of architecture came to her early in life. At the age of eleven, she became fascinated by photographs of the Marsh Arabs in southern Iraq. These images had been taken by a friend of her father's, the English explorer Wilfred Thesiger. Later, when her father took her to visit this place, Zaha knew that architecture would be her life. It was a fitting place to come to this understanding for it was in the region of Sumer, the very place where human architecture first began in 3000 - 2340 BC: