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Zaha Hadid (image via zaha-hadid.com)

Architect Zaha Hadid, who designed the Al Wakrah World Cup stadium in Qatar currently in its initial stages of construction, recently filed a lawsuit against New York Review of Books architecture critic Martin Filler, Dezeen reported. Hadid claimed that Filler made defamatory comments concerning her attitude toward migrant workers, published in his June review of Rowan Moore’s Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture. (The entire text of the review is available online to subscribers.)

In his review, Filler allegedly accused Hadid of “not taking responsibility and showing no concern” for worker deaths under the Al-Wakrah project, which came under fire last month when pay slips revealed exceedingly low worker wagesHadid is seeking damages and a full retraction of the review, calling it “a personal attack.”

“Mr. Filler wrote a review of a 370-page book on architecture in which Ms. Hadid’s name is mentioned in fewer than 20 pages. Mr. Filler’s book review, by contrast, mentions Ms. Hadid in nearly two-thirds of its paragraphs,” read a statement from BakerHostetler, the law firm representing Hadid.

“Nearly all of those references are used to call our client’s success into question or to characterize her personality as difficult,” the statement continued. “It is a personal attack disguised as a book review and has exposed Ms. Hadid to public ridicule and contempt, depriving her of confidence and injuring her good name and reputation.”

The complaint also references a quote Hadid made to the Guardian earlier this year in which she said it was not her duty as an architect to examine migrant worker conditions in Qatar, claiming Filler took those words out of context.

Neither Filler nor the New York Review of Books have commented on the lawsuit.

UPDATE: Filler and the New York Review of Books have printed a retraction. Yahoo News reports, “Filler said he agreed with Hadid that work on the Al Wakrah stadium is not scheduled to begin until 2015.”

Claire Voon is a former staff writer for Hyperallergic. Originally from Singapore, she grew up near Washington, D.C. and is now based in Chicago. Her work has also appeared in New York Magazine, VICE,...

2 replies on “Zaha Hadid Files Defamation Suit Over Labor Criticism”

  1. I haven’t read the book or the review or the lawsuit papers since I just woke up, but if you want to be a celebrity of any sort whenever you do something questionable expect to get rained on. Any sort of human rights violations should be enough to summon a hurricane.

    I’m aware that in certain parts of the world that is ‘how things happen’, with irrefutable proof (worker deaths and payslips) she would have been better off ignoring the negative press. Dragging this issue into court will only get more mud on her.

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