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Top architect Hadid files defamation lawsuit over book review

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Zaha Hadid, an award-winning architect known for futuristic designs, sued The New York Review of Books and the architecture critic Martin Filler on Thursday over alleged defamatory statements about her in a recent book review.

Hadid, who was born in Baghdad and is now a British citizen, claimed that Filler falsely implied she was indifferent to the alleged difficult working conditions of migrant workers on high-profile construction projects in the Middle East, including her own.

She also claimed Filler used large portions of his June 5 review of Rowan Moore's "Why We Build: Power and Desire in Architecture" to question her success and fault her personality, although she was not a prominent character in the book.

The complaint was filed with the New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan.

Robert Silvers, editor of The New York Review of Books, declined to comment, saying he was unaware of the complaint. Filler could not immediately be reached.

Hadid in 2004 became the first woman to win the Pritzker architecture prize, one of the top awards in that field.

Her projects include the London Aquatics Centre, built for the 2012 Summer Olympics, while current designs include a residential building along the High Line, on the west side of Manhattan.

In her complaint, Hadid pointed to a passage where Filler said she "unashamedly disavowed any responsibility, let alone concern" for an "estimated one thousand laborers who have perished" while building the Al Wakrah stadium she designed for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Hadid claimed that passage was based on a February 2014 statement taken out of context, before work on the stadium had begun, and that there were no worker deaths at the site.

Oren Warshavsky, a partner at Baker & Hostetler representing Hadid, said in a statement that Filler's review was "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."

Hadid is seeking damages, a halt to the review's continued publication, and a retraction.

The case is Hadid v. NYRev Inc et al, New York State Supreme Court, New York County.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York. Editing by Andre Grenon)

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