World renown and beloved architect, Oscar Niemeyer has died at the age of 104. The entire architectural community is mourning the loss. It would be impossible to overstate the impact Niemeyer had on architecture. Not only in his native Brazil, but in locations throughout the world, his iconic designs both inspire and capture the imagination.
Niemeyer, who died just short of his 105th birthday, was responsible for designing the majority of Brasília’s most famous buildings. He lent his creative vision to the presidential headquarters “Palácio do Planalto” and the Metropolitan Cathedral. His style runs through the city’s main boulevard and typifies his legacy.
This visionary and modernist architect essentially shaped the way Brasília looked in the 1950s and ’60s – filled with bold, often voluptuous structures. His was a creative style influenced by his love of all things feminine – and a dislike for right angles. As he stated in his 1998 memoir:
“Right angles don’t attract me. Nor straight, hard and inflexible lines created by man. What attracts me are free and sensual curves. The curves we find in mountains, in the waves of the sea, in the body of the woman we love.”
The Curves of Time, Niemeyer 1998
Here in the United States, Neimeyer had a hand in the way the United Nations Headquarters, in New York City looks today. He was appointed to a panel of international architects to propose designs for the U.N. Fittingly enough, the final building is a combination of proposed designs by Niemeyer and Swiss architect Le Corbusier – who is said to have provided an influence of fluidity, spontaneity and lightness of touch in his work.
We pause to honor his passing, his legacy and his longevity – not only as a human being but as an architect who worked right up until his final days from pure ideas and simple sketches – forever keeping the notion that architecture was a humanist endeavor, close to his heart.
“The architect … must feel that human beings also are important,” he said. “Because nothing (else) is important. Life lasts but a minute.”
Oscar Niemeyer – 1907 – 2012