Oscar Niemeyer, 1907-2012 In Memoriam
Posted by Lauren / to News / on December 10, 2012

Born in Rio De Janeiro in 1907, Niemeyer studied at Brazil's National School of Fine Arts and began practicing as an architect in the 1930s, working with established Modernist designers like acclaimed Swiss architect Le Corbusier. While he embraced conceptual tenets and stylistic practices coming out of Europe, Niemeyer forged a uniquely Brazilian take on Modernism, infusing his work with organic, curving forms that he famously said were inspired by the hills of Rio and the bodies of Brazilian women. In 1947, Niemeyer and Le Corbusier collaborated on the design for the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Niemeyer's forward looking, utopian design was intertwined with staunch communist leanings, which brought him into conflict with the right wing military dictatorship that seized control of Brazil in 1965. Facing intimidation and limitations on his ability to work, Niemeyer relocated to France, where he continued to experiment with uncommon forms. He designed buildings across Europe and North Africa, receiving the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize in 1988.

United Nations Headquarters, New York, New York. Completed 1952. In 1947, Niemeyer was named to a panel of international architects tasked with designing the United Nations Headquarters in New York. A combination of proposed designs by Niemeyer and Swiss architect Le Corbusier was eventually built.

Copan Building, Sao Paulo. Built 1951. In the 1950s and '60s, Niemeyer helped pioneer a Brazilian Modernist style of design characterized by organic, curving forms and the use of reinforced concrete.

Brazilian National Congress, Brasilia. Built 1958. Elected president in 1956, with the slogan "50 years progress in five," Juscelino Kubitschek set out to create a modern new capitol in Brazil's remote interior. Kubitschek tapped Niemeyer to design several of Brasilia's initial buildings, including the government buildings at the heart of the city in "Three Powers Square."

Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre, Asturias, Spain. Built 2011. Niemeyer continued to work into old age, completing a four-building project in Spain at 103.

Oscar Niemeyer, the architect who shaped Brazil's futuristic capital city Brasilia in the 1950s and '60s with bold, often-voluptuous structures, died late Wednesday in Rio De Janeiro. He was 104. Jeffrey Brown talks to Fernando Lara, professor of architecture at the University of Texas, about Niemeyer's influence.

December 11, 2012
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