It's always poignant when an artist's work is released posthumously, and the official completion of Zaha Hadid Architects' first project since its founder's recent death is no exception. Some 16 years in the making, the oyster-like Salerno Maritime Terminal was inaugurated today by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Hadid won an architectural competition to design the terminal all the way back in 2000, and it is part of an ongoing redevelopment program in the area. The building comprises three major sections: administration offices, an international terminal for ferries and cruise ships, and another terminal for local and regional ferries.
Constructed primarily from concrete with an impressive 20-m (65-ft) cantilever, the three-story building is topped by an asymmetric shell likened to an oyster by ZHA. The project definitely follows Hadid's usual design language and the trademark – or rather obligatory – curves are there. Still, it's a little harder around the edges than later designs, with more muscle and less grace.
Judging from the moody photos (expertly captured in film) by famed architectural photographer Hélène Binet, the building takes its place well on the waterfront. The quayside rises as passengers approach from the city, with each interior space flowing into the next.
The overall impression of the interior is large, imposing and impressive, invoking confidence that it will stand the test of time. Indeed, the project could perhaps have proven a worthy, if not sublime, bookend to to Hadid's career, but it's not to be.
Instead, Salerno Maritime Terminal is the first of four posthumous due for completion by Zaha Hadid Architects this year. The firm, now headed by longtime Hadid collaborator Patrik Schumacher, recently confirmed that it will continue to practice, for the time being at least, honoring all outstanding projects.