Oscar Niemeyer, considered by many to be Brazil’s most prolific contemporary architect, will achieve another milestone this Saturday when he turns 100.
Born in Rio in 1907, Niemeyer attended Brazil’s prestigious National School of Fine Arts before joining the team of Swiss-born Bauhaus giant Le Corbusier on a new Ministry of Education and Health. He then went on to design the Brazilian pavilion at the New York World's Fair with Lucio Costa, for which he was named an honorary citizen of New York by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.
With more than 175 projects worldwide, Niemeyer is perhaps best known for his work on the United Nations headquarters in New York where he insisted on the curves that are now so famous. In Brazil, his flying-saucer shaped Museum of Contemporary Art located across the bay from Rio de Janeiro was once considered to be too modern, but is now hailed as a masterpiece of contemporary architecture.
Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Brazil (via: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Museu_de_Arte_Contempor%C3%A2nea.jpg)
So what does the “king of curves” – a title given to him for his “curvy’ architecture – have planned for this big day? According to Niemeyer, he plans on celebrating with an intimate dinner that will include his daughter Anna Maria Niemeyer, five grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and four great-great-granchildren. His fellow countrymen aren’t so subtle in their merriment. And why should they be? After all, what Brazilian doesn’t enjoy a celebration?
For starters, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has declared 2008 the “Year of Oscar Niemeyer” and has requested that all of Niemeyer’s buildings in the country be added to a national registry that protects them from being altered without special permission. And in his hometown of Rio de Janeiro, the newspaper O Globo is projecting images of his work on buildings throughout the city.
So what’s next for Brazil’s most noted architect? While he has a stack of projects to choose from, he is currently planning to transform a prison in Valparaiso, Chile, into a futuristic cultural center, further leaving his mark on future generations.
Images of famous Niemeyer buildings:
Links to articles about Niemeyer's 100th birthday: