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Zaha Hadid, the world-renowned architect who has died at 65, made a name for herself with her bold designs and bold opinions. As Donna Karan wrote of her in 2010, when Hadid was included in TIME’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, “she personified [her] work.” Hadid, Karan noted, “commands the space around her — not in an imposing way but in a way that seduces you with excitement,” and her work was “like a gust of wind — organic, forceful and utterly natural.”

But her place as one of the most recognizable names in architecture did not come easily. When she started breaking into that world, especially as a woman born in Baghdad, her projects didn’t always pan out. As Hadid herself acknowledged in a 2012 interview, the world was different when her career began: “The view from the Establishment about architecture has changed since then,” she said. “The view about women has also changed. People now see the value in difference, not normative space.”

In 1999, TIME’s Belinda Luscombe looked back at the beginning of that career and explained how Hadid’s emergence on the scene set her apart from her colleagues:

Read the full story, here in the TIME Vault: She’s Gotta Build It

Read a 2012 interview with Hadid, here on 10 Questions with Zaha Hadid

Read Donna Karan’s appreciation of Hadid, here on Zaha Hadid

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Write to Lily Rothman at

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