Thursday, December 6, 2012

Brazilian Architect Oscar Niemeyer Dies

Legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer died on Wednesday in a Rio de Janeiro hospital at the age of 104.  He had been hospitalized since early November due to kidney and stomach ailments, and he passed away as a result of complications from a lung infection.

A disciple of the famed French-Swiss architect Le Corbusier, Niemeyer became one of the word’s best-known modern architects.  His career spanned across nine decades and included designing over 600 buildings such as the U.N. Secretariat in New York.

In 1940, then-Belo Horizonte mayor Juscelino Kubitschek commissioned Niemeyer to design an “architectural complex” for a new suburb entitled Pampulha.  This project served as a predecessor for a more ambitious plan presented to Niemeyer by President Kubitschek in 1958 to design a new capital city.

Thus was born Niemeyer’s masterpiece, which were his space-age designs for dozens of government structures that make up Brasilia.  The city, which was inaugurated in 1960, featured such bold and futuristic edifices like the National Congress, the National Museum and the Cathedral of Brasilia.  It was this last building containing its "Crown of Thorns" cupola that helped Niemeyer earn the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1988.

According to BBC News, Niemeyer’s inspiration came from a unique source:

He famously once said the stylized swoops in his buildings were inspired by the curves of Brazilian women.
"When you have a large space to conquer, the curve is the natural solution," he said.
"I once wrote a poem about the curve. The curve I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean and on the body of the beloved woman."
President Dilma Rousseff, whose office fittingly sits in one the landmark buildings Niemeyer designed for Brasilia, praised him as "a revolutionary, the mentor of a new architecture, beautiful, logical, and, as he himself defined it, inventive."

Eduardo Paes, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, declared three days of mourning in Niemeyer's birth city and its believed he will be buried there on Friday.

Video Source– YouTube via user SynapseMediaGroup

Online Sources – BBC News, Reuters, Wikipedia

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