Parc de la Villette Project, Paris, France (Jogging Track)
Zaha Hadid

Color pencil on tracing paper
11¾ x 16½"

Iconic works such as her paintings for the Peak Project or the delicate colored pencil drawings for Parc de La Villette would explore a complex composition in which surfaces hover and interlock, building merges with landscape, and architecture melds with topography. Such visions would come to fruition in her earliest commission, that of the Vitra Fire Station in Weil am Rhein, which employed—now in built form—the jagged, dynamic lines of these earliest drawings. Other early buildings, such as the breathtakingly dynamic Phaeno Science Center in Wolfsburg (2005) or the Hoenheim-Nord Terminus and Car Park in Strasbourg, (2001), continued these radical explorations in a space of warped planes and tilted arcs—terms that Philip Johnson would use to describe the work in the deconstructivist show and still often used to characterize Hadid’s work. —ARTFORUM

Today’s heavily-trafficked Parc de la Villette sits what was once an expansive nineteenth-century slaughterhouse in Northeast Paris. The slaughterhouse—built in 1867 as part of Baron von Haussmann’s renovation of Paris—closed in 1974, leaving a swath of land rife for redevelopment. Seeking innovative ways to reimagine the space, French president François Mitterrand sponsored a competition (as part of his “Grands Projects” initiative to modernize the country’s monuments and public spaces) that called for international entries, garnering responses from the likes of Zaha Hadid and Rem Koolhaas. The competition brief, entitled “Urban Park for the 21st Century,” set forth a program that extended, even in its name, far beyond Paris, seeking to broadly redefine the public park.

The competition’s winner, Bernard Tschumi, used his design as a way to respond to the trials of the contemporary city. But where earlier landscape architects like Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed New York’s Central Park, conceived of the urban park as a place to escape from the city, Tschumi viewed the park as a continuation of the city. —ArchDaily

📷 MoMA