Oscar Niemeyer

The death of Oscar Ribeiro de Almeida Niemeyer Soares Filho in December, at age 104, followed periodic hospitalizations for pneumonia and dehydration. The architect worked until the very end, on projects ranging from the Centro Niemeyer arts institute in Avilés, Spain, which opened in 2011, to a series of Niemeyer sneakers for Converse.

The acoustic shell and obelisk at the Ministry of Defense in Brasília are dedicated to Luís Alves de Lima e Silva, the Duke of Caxias and 19th-century patron saint of the Brazilian military.

Like much of Niemeyer’s work, the Ministry of Defense auditorium is partially below grade.

Niemeyer was lain in state at the Palácio do Planalto, which he designed in 1960 as the official workplace for the president of Brazil. The inverted parabolic arches running transversely to the building's body serve as columns, a variation on the arches that Niemeyer designed for the Palácio da Alvorada, the presidential residence. There, his inverted arches run parallel to the building.

More than 500 standardized, prefabricated CIEPs were built across Brazil based on Niemeyer’s 1984 design. For its participation in the British Pavilion at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, the firm Aberrant Architecture developed an exhibit proposing that the U.K. adopt CIEPs as an austersity-era model for building schools.

Designed in 1951 to serve as his family residence in Rio, Casa Das Canoas was Niemeyer’s answer to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House or Philip Johnson’s Glass House.

Although it is broadly recognized as Niemeyer’s residential masterpiece, Canoas did not escape criticism. Niemeyer told a biographer that Walter Gropius once observed that the organic home’s flaw was that it could not be mass produced.

In 1966, Niemeyer began work on a number of projects in Paris, where he lived in exile. One of these was the headquarters for the French Communist Party. The project’s below-grade auditorium surfaces as a dome in front of the French Communist Party’s six-story tower.

The entrance to the below-grade auditorium of the French Communist Party headquarters in Paris.

Join the Discussion

Please read our Content Guidelines before posting

Close X