Friday, December 07, 2012

Oscar Niemeyer, Poet of Geometry & Reinforced Concrete

Almost to the week last year I blogged about the 104th birthday of Oscar Niemeyer, the Brazilian modernist architect who cemented his reputation through his designs in the 1940s first of the Pampulha entertainment complex in a suburb of Belo Horizonte, then collaboratively of the United Nations complex (with Wallace K. Harrison and LeCorbusier, among others). He saw the realization of his most important and visionary buildings and plans from 1956 to 1960, with the building and inauguration of the then-new Brazilian capital city, Brasília. And so it remains; as beautiful and iconic as many national capitals are, there are none as striking and unforgettable--from the sky or on land--as Brazil's third and current one. Two days ago, on December 5, 2012, Oscar Niemeyer passed away, after respiratory problems. Born Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho on December 15, 1907, in Rio de Janeiro, he lived in exile in France as a result of the Brazilian dictatorship for nearly 20 years, returned to his native country to increasing domestic and international acclaim, and continued to draw and create designs right up to his death. He had even débuted a new building in Rio, based on a design from 1997, just two years ago. Here in tribute are a few images of his work.

Brasília's Metropolitan Cathedral, in 2005
(Evaristo Sá/AFA/Getty Images)
The remarkable interior of the Cathedral
of Our Lady of Aparecida (Catedral Metropolitana
Nossa Senhora Aparecida), Brasília
(Ludovic Maisent/Hemis/Corbis)
Pampulha Complex
Niemeyer's Pampulha complex, from the 1940s (Wikipedia)
The Palácio do Planalto, the Brazilian presidential palace, Brasília
(Michael Kappeler/AFP/Getty Images)
UN Buildings
The UN Headquarters in NYC (
The foyer of the Palácio do Itamaraty, Foreign Ministry
(Tim Brakemeier/Corbis)
Brazilian National Congress buildings, Brasília
(Image Broker/Rex Features)
Ramp leading up to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Niterói
(Alan Weintraub/Arcaid/Corbis)
Museum of Contemporary Art, Niterói,
across Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro
(Vanderlei Almeida/AFP/Getty Images)
Niemeyer, hand on chin, inspecting an office block
in downtown Rio de Janeiro, 1950
(Kurt Hutton/Getty Images)
Niemeyer discussing the United Nations complex design
(Frank Scherschel/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image)
Serpentine Gallery pavilion, Kensington Gardens, London
(John Maclean/View Pictures/Rex Features) 
Oscar Niemeyer in 2002, sitting on a chair he designed,
in his Copacabana studio (Frederic Reglain/Gamma-Rapho via Getty)
The arch and footbridge of the Rocinha Sports Complex,
built in the Rocinha favela, which will also
serve as a site for the 2016 Olympic Games (Buda Mendes/
Latin Content/Getty Images)

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