Famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer died on Wednesday just days before celebrating his 105th birthday. Hospital staff reported that the man who catapulted Brazil onto the international design scene with his sweeping, fluid architecture succumbed to a respiratory infection in Rio de Janeiro. Niemeyer embraced and then perfected Modernism with the Ministry of Education and Public Health building in Rio, which he worked on with famed Swiss architect Le Corbusier in 1936, and he later designed the main government buildings of the capital Brasília, firmly securing his status as one of the world's most important architects. Despite being barred from working in the U.S. because of his leftist political leanings, Niemeyer was formally recognized in 1988 when he received the coveted Pritzker Prize.
Famous for saying that form follows beauty, Niemeyer carved his own architectural vision from the start. His iconic buildings, which include the National Congress of Brazil, the Cathedral of Brasilía, the Niterói Contemporary Art museum, and he was a part of the panel that designed the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, are defined by bold, swooping curves and colorful accents. Most recently, undeterred as a centenarian, Niemeyer designed a new theater for Sugarloaf Mountain in Maine.
Despite numerous career setbacks mostly brought on by the politics du jour, Niemeyer forged ahead, leaving behind a phenomenal legacy. “Brazil lost today one of its geniuses,” Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s president, said in a statement issued Wednesday night. “Few dreamed so intensely, and accomplished so much, as he did.” Not only Brazil, but indeed followers from around the globe will mourn the loss of one of architecture’s bravest visionaries.
Lead image via America South and North