Architect Oscar Niemeyer, Who Designed Brazil's Capital, Dies | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Architect Oscar Niemeyer, Who Designed Brazil's Capital, Dies

Architect Oscar Niemeyer, who designed Brazil's capital and is known for some of the world's most famous modernist buildings, has died. He was 104.

The cause was a respiratory infection, said a spokeswoman for the hospital in Rio de Janeiro where he died. He'd been hospitalized for several weeks with kidney problems, pneumonia and dehydration.

Here's more from The Associated Press:

"In works from Brasilia's crown-shaped cathedral to the undulating French Communist Party building in Paris, Niemeyer shunned the steel-box structures of many modernist architects, finding inspiration in nature's crescents and spirals. His hallmarks include much of the United Nations complex in New York and the Museum of Modern Art in Niteroi, which is perched like a flying saucer across Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro."

In an interview with NPR in 2010, he recalled what it was like in 1956, when Brasilia was on the drawing board.

"Niemeyer says he went with President Juscelino Kubitschek to Brazil's vast, dry savanna, the so-called Cerrado region, where Brasilia is now located, and thought it was too far away, too empty.

"But Kubitschek, Niemeyer recalls, wanted to build no matter what.

"And so in four years, Brasilia was built from scratch, with Niemeyer designing its audacious buildings: the Brazilian foreign ministry with its slender arches rising from reflecting pools; the Cathedral of Brasilia, shaped like a giant orchid; the National Congress, with its two bowl-like structures, one up-turned, the other dome-like.

"These and others are all considered modernist masterpieces that capture the meaning of Brasilia: a new city, unburdened by history.

"'We wanted to do it differently' in Brasilia, Niemeyer says. 'Architecture is invention.'

"He didn't just want buildings that worked, but to create a different kind of architecture."

Niemeyer, who began his career in the 1930s, was known for a distinctive style marked by sweeping curves, which he once famously said were inspired by 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."

The lifelong communist won the Pritzker Prize, his profession's top honor, in 1988.

Here's more about the early part of his career from the BBC:

"After graduating in the mid-1930s, he joined a Rio architectural firm run by a man who would become one of his great collaborators, Lucio Costa.

"Having won wide praise for a number of buildings in Brazil, he was chosen in the early 1950s to be part of an international team given the task of designing the UN buildings in New York.

"It was led by the great Swiss-born architect Le Corbusier, who was 20 years older than Niemeyer."

Niemeyer was working until the end. His most recent projects include a culture center for Aviles, Spain. A slideshow of some of his work can be seen here.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

The Husband And Wife Power Couple Behind CBS's 'The Good Wife'

Robert and Michelle King, the real-life husband and wife team who created the show, say that when it came to creating the series' main character, it was a question of art imitating life.
NPR

Panera Is The Latest To Drop Artificial Ingredients From Its Food

Panera Bread says it's dropping artificial colors, preservatives and additives from many menu items. But while it says that includes artificial sweeteners, it's leaving sodas with them on the menu.
NPR

The Race Where Race Didn't Matter

The Staten Island prosecutor at the center of the investigation into the death of Eric Garner easily won election to Congress as a Republican. He replaces disgraced former Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y.
NPR

Silicon Valley Remembers Dave Goldberg, Who Died Unexpectedly

The CEO of SurveyMonkey was known for his generosity toward colleagues and for supporting the career of his wife, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg. He died while vacationing with his family in Mexico.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.