Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer dies, aged 104

Thu Dec 6, 2012 1:57am EST
 
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By Jeb Blount

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - Oscar Niemeyer, a towering patriarch of modern architecture who shaped the look of contemporary Brazil and whose inventive, curved designs left their mark on cities worldwide, died late on Wednesday. He was 104.

Niemeyer had been battling kidney and stomach ailments in a Rio de Janeiro hospital since early November. His death was the result of a lung infection developed this week, the hospital said, little more than a week before he would have turned 105.

President Dilma Rousseff, whose office sits among the landmark buildings Niemeyer designed for the modernist capital city of Brasilia, paid tribute by calling him "a revolutionary, the mentor of a new architecture, beautiful, logical, and, as he himself defined it, inventive."

His body will lie in state at the presidential palace.

Starting in the 1930s, Niemeyer's career spanned nine decades. His distinctive glass and white-concrete buildings include such landmarks as the U.N. Secretariat in New York, the Communist Party headquarters in Paris and the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Brasilia.

He won the 1988 Pritzker Architecture Prize, considered the "Nobel Prize of Architecture" for the Brasilia cathedral. Its "Crown of Thorns" cupola fills the church with light and a sense of soaring grandeur even though most of the building is underground.

It was one of dozens of public structures he designed for Brazil's made-to-order capital, a city that helped define "space-age" style.

After flying over Niemeyer's pod-like Congress, futuristic presidential palace and modular ministries in 1961, Yuri Gagarin, the Russian cosmonaut and first man in space, said "the impression was like arriving on another planet."   Continued...

 
Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer looks at the Copacabana beach from his office after his interview with Reuters in Rio de Janeiro, in this June 16, 2003 file photo. Niemeyer, a towering patriarch of modern architecture who shaped the look of contemporary Brazil and whose inventive, curved designs left their mark on cities worldwide, died late on December 5, 2012. He was 104. Niemeyer had been battling kidney and stomach ailments in a Rio de Janeiro hospital since early November. His death was the result of a lung infection developed this week, the hospital said, little more than a week before he would have turned 105. REUTERS/Sergio Moraes/Files