With militant insurgents consolidating their control across much of northern Iraq, plans to build a new $1 billion parliamentary complex in Baghdad, to be designed by mega-architect Zaha Hadid , still appear to be moving forward.
Since the project started, it mired in plenty of controversies. In 2012, the Royal Institute of British Architects, which ran the architecture competition on behalf of the Iraq government, selected a rotunda-shaped design by the London-based firm Assemblage as the winning proposal.
Soon after, the country’s Council of Representatives handed the commission to the Iraqi-born Hadid, even though her studio placed third in the contest.
According to a report from British media, it has been revealed that Hadid was also commissioned to build Iraq’s new Central Bank in 2012, signed the final deal last month at the Iraqi embassy in London.
Last week, the secretary general of Iraq’s parliament, Ayad Namik Majid, said that construction would proceed on the 49-acre site despite the threat posed by the extremist group Islamic State in Syria and the Levant, or ISIL.
Hadid was the first woman to win the prestigious Pritzker Prize. She commands big fees for her curvy, computer-based designs, which include BMW’s plant in Leipzig, Germany and the London Antiques Center, built for the 2012 Summer Olympics.
It is also reported that Hadid’s office, slashed its commission by more than a third, from $78 million to $51 million. However, the price is still hefty and it has halted plans for civic-minded projects such as hospitals in Basra and an oncology center and a library in the capital. The government has yet to release Hadid’s plans to the public.
In February, the architect came under fire for shirking accountability in the deaths of hundreds of migrant construction workers building the stadium she designed for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Asked whether she was concerned, she remarked, “Yes, but I’m more concerned about the deaths in Iraq as well, so what do I do about that?”