Noticias de Arquitectura

Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer turns 100
diciembre 17, 2007, 4:47 pm
Filed under: Niemeyer

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil: Oscar Niemeyer has lived so long that his once-futuristic designs for Brazil’s capital are now hailed as “retro-future,” but the legendary architect is still going strong as he turns 100 on Saturday.

The architectural revolutionary has designed Brasilia’s main buildings, insisted on the curves of the U.N. General Assembly building and in 1988 won the Pritzker Architecture Prize — dubbed the Nobel of architecture. And he apparently has more in store. During a recent interview his desk was piled high with projects.

“Brasilia was an adventure,” Niemeyer told The Associated Press in October in his office overlooking Copacabana beach. “It was built on the run. I didn’t even have time to think much.”

Now considered a World Cultural Monument by UNESCO, Brasilia was built on the empty plains of central Brazil to serve as the nation’s new capital. It was completed in 1960 and today has 2.2 million people. It was designed, constructed and inaugurated in four years.

With dark strands of hair combed straight back and a face etched deep with the lines of time, Niemeyer has seen the country’s military regime rise and fall, and his modernist designs for Brasilia go from being seen as futuristic to a retro vision of the future.

Another of his works — the flying-saucer shaped Museum of Contemporary Art across the bay from Rio de Janeiro_ looks like something that has just landed. It forces the viewer to reconsider Guanabara bay and the surrounding mountains as if seeing them for the first time through alien eyes.

Niemeyer is currently planning to transform a former dockside prison in Valparaiso, Chile, into a futuristic cultural center, with three oval buildings linked by a bridge and seemingly floating over a manmade pool.

Born in Rio in 1907 Niemeyer graduated from Brazil’s National School of Fine Arts in 1934 and joined a team that worked with Swiss-born Bauhaus giant Le Corbusier on a new Ministry of Education and Health.

In 1939, Niemeyer teamed up with Lucio Costa to design the Brazilian pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, for which he was named an honorary citizen of New York by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia. In the 1940s, he worked with Le Corbusier and Sir Howard Robinson on the United Nations headquarters.

On Wednesday, the French honored Niemeyer with the Legion of Honor, France’s highest honor. Niemeyer lived in exile in France in 1964 after he was forced out of Brazil due to his affiliations with the Communist Party.

On Friday, the Russian government honored Niemeyer, presenting him with their Order of Friendship.

At age 98, Niemeyer, married his longtime aide Vera Lucia Cabrera, 60, two years after his first wife Annita Baldo died.

He plans to celebrate his birthday Saturday with a small party at his home for friends and family which includes his daughter Anna Maria Niemeyer, five grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and four great-great-granchildren.


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