Architect Zaha Hadid Claims New|York Review of Books Defamed Her

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Award-winning architect Zaha Hadid sued the New York Review of Books, claiming it libeled her in an article that said 1,000 workers had died building a stadium in Qatar that she designed for the 2022 World Cup. She claims that construction has not even begun yet.
     Hadid sued the book review and its reporter Martin Filler, for Filler’s June 5 article, “The Insolence of Architecture.”
     Filler’s article was a review of the book “Why We Build: Desire and Power in Architecture,” by nonparty Rowan Moore.
     “Notwithstanding that the book that is subject of the review contains fewer than twenty out of 370 pages that mention Hadid, almost two-thirds of the paragraphs in the article mention Hadid. Nearly all of these paragraphs are utilized to call Hadid’s success into question or characterize her personality as difficult,” according to the complaint, filed on Aug. 21 in New York County Supreme Court.
     Hadid claims that Filler singled her out with false and defamatory accusations in “the following passage”:
     “However, despite the numerous horror stories about this coercive exploitation, some big-name practitioners don’t seem moved by the plight of the Emirates’ imported serfs. Andrew Ross, a professor of social and cultural analysis at New York University and a member of Gulf Labor, an advocacy group that is seeking to redress this region-wide injustice, earlier this year wrote a chilling New York Times Op-Ed piece. In it he quotes the Iraqi-born, London-based architect Zaha Hadid, who designed the Al Wakrah stadium in Qatar, now being built for the 2022 World Cup. She has unashamedly disavowed any responsibility, let alone concern, for the estimated one thousand laborers who have perished while constructing her project thus far. ‘I have nothing to do with the workers,’ Hadid has claimed. ‘It is not my duty as an architect to look at it.'”
     Hadid claims that the last three sentences are “blatantly false.”
     “Construction has not yet begun on Al Wakrah stadium,” Hadid says in the lawsuit. “No workers have died on the Al Wakrah site. Hadid’s quoted lines did not pertain to worker deaths at the Al Wakrah site. As of the date of the article, only a few weeks of enabling works had begun on the Al Wakrah site.
     “The statements are also false and defamatory as to Hadid because they state that the construction of the Al Wakrah stadium is ‘her project’; that she has oversight of the workers building the stadium; and that she is indifferent to the deaths of people working for her.
     “The statements were written and published with actual malice and an indifference to standards of responsible journalism.”
     Hadid claims that Filler and the Book Review “had reason to doubt the truth of the defamatory statements.”
     “The March 28, 2014 New York Times op-ed piece by Andrew Ross from which Filler quotes states neither that construction has begun on Al Wakrah stadium nor that there have been any worker deaths on the site,” Hadid says in the complaint. “It states instead something very different, unconnected to Hadid – that ‘… almost a thousand migrants have died in neighboring Qatar while building infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.'”
     Hadid seeks punitive damages for libel, and a retraction.
     She is represented by Oren Warshavsky with Baker Hostettler.

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