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Inside Zaha Hadid's Venice Architecture Biennale Retrospective

Though the exhibition is by no means complete, it offers a glimpse into the late architect's process

An impromptu retrospective of the late Zaha Hadid's work that was announced earlier this month has finally opened at the Venice Architecture Biennale. The exhibition celebrates the Iraqi-born Pritzker Prize winning architect's pioneering, 40-year career, showcasing many of her early paintings, drawings, and models—all abstract and beautiful pieces of art unto themselves—as well projects that are currently under construction, in development, or as yet unrealized.

Many of the objets Hadid designed in collaboration with various studios will also be on display. Taken together, the retrospective highlights the intense research, investigation, artistry, and vision that have come to define her unprecedented career.

Fondazione Berengo, for whom Hadid designed a collection of vases, is hosting the exhibition at the Palazzo Franchetti located on the Grand Canal. The retrospective is displayed over multiple salons in the 16th century palace. Three of Hadid's milestone projects—Vitra Fire Station in Weil am Rhein, Germany, the MAXXI Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome, and the Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art in Cincinnati—are presented in their own room, while another salon is dedicated to the photographs of Hélène Binet, who began working with the firm in 1992.

Hadid once described how drawing aids in her ideation process:

Doing the drawings was a slow process, as they required tremendous concentration and precision. The whole system of drawing led to ideas, putting one sheet over another and tracing and reworking, like a form of reverse archaeology in a way, leading to a layering process where distortion in the drawing could lead to distortion in the building. Or extruded drawings could lead to extruded sections in buildings. The processes led to literal translations in the building.

Although the retrospective is by no means a complete one, it offers a view into Hadid's process, which critics, architects, and admirers of her work will undoubtedly analyze and emulate for years to come.

The retrospective runs through November 27 and coincides with the 15th Venice Architecture Biennale, which is directed by this year's Pritzker Prize winner Alejandro Aravena.