It’s the inauguration of the Antwerp Port House in Belgium. Perched on top of a historic building built in the 1920s, it’s a surreal addition, like a spaceship wrapped in disco mirrors. For architect Patrik Schumacher it’s a proud day, but also a bittersweet one. This structural triumph would have never been possible if it wasn’t for recently deceased architect, Zaha Hadid.
“I think of her everyday,” he said. “I spoke with her every day for 30 years.”
Mr. Schumacher, 55, has long been the man in the shadows at Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA). He built the firm from the ground up alongside the star, Iraqi-born, British architect — the first woman to receive esteemed awards such as the Pritzker Architecture Prize and RIBA Gold Medal. In designing buildings, Ms. Hadid and Mr. Schumacher made for an exceptional yin and yang.
Since Ms. Hadid passed away from a heart attack in March, her German-born co-director has been leading the business. Ms. Hadid was the firm’s founder, equal parts extrovert and eccentric, credited with liberalizing architectural geometry and bringing expressive and imaginative design to new heights.
Mr. Schumacher was in the background, managing some 400 employees worldwide and turning Ms. Hadid’s dreams into reality with technical and intellectual know-how.
Now he says he intends to continue expanding ZHA, as well as bring change to the renowned firm’s offices.