Brazil’s foremost architect Oscar Niemeyer turns 104

Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer at age 40.

Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer at age 40.

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) – Brazil’s star architect Oscar Niemeyer, who revolutionized modern architecture with his sensual curves inspired by “the body of the Brazilian woman,” feted his 104th birthday Thursday in his Rio workshop overlooking Copacabana beach.

Niemeyer, who won the 1988 Pritzker Prize—”architectures Nobel”—chose his birthday to launch the 11th edition of Nosso Caminho (Our Way), the architecture magazine he publishes with his wife Vera Lucia.

For a birthday present, he was given “Laura,” a bronze sculpture with breasts exposed, which was designed by famed Brazilian caricaturist Lan and made in bronze by artist Marcos Andre, according to the daily O Globo.

But there was also some bad news with Thursday’s announcement that the Niemeyer Center he designed in Aviles, Spain, was shutting down.

The cultural complex, which was inaugurated only last year, closed as the Asturias regional government accused the center administrators of excessive spending, the daily Folha de S. Paulo reported.

During his seven-decade career, Niemeyer has designed more than 600 projects around the world, and is famous for some of Brazil’s most distinctive buildings.

His works include a suite of the government building in the national capital city Brasilia and the headquarters for the United Nations in New York.

The Rio native, a disciple of Swiss-born French architect Le Corbusier, once famously said that the swoops and sweeping lines that typify his architectural style were inspired by “the body of the Brazilian woman.”

Admired for his creative genius and his longevity, Niemeyer still treks to his office daily despite health problems in recent years.

He fractured his pelvis and was hospitalized for three weeks in 2009 to have surgery on his gall bladder and to have a tumor removed from his colon.

A committed communist—he joined the Brazilian Communist Party in 1945—he also takes time to attend meetings of the magazine he created to “speak with the young.”

The magazine’s title Nosso Caminho was chosen by Niemeyer, in reference to his “lifelong friends and companions.”

In the new edition, he pays tribute to the late Vinicius de Moraes, the singer, composer and father of Bossa Nova who was one of his closest friends.

In August, Niemeyer told reporters that there were still a few things he would like to do, such as “a beautiful project for Copacabana.”

“I was once asked what I thought about life. My reply: As long as I have a woman next to me, come what may,” he joked.

In 2009, he composed the lyrics of a Samba, Tranquilo con la Vida (Feeling Good about Life).

And a Rio prepares to host the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics, he is also supervising the renovation of Rios Sambadrome, the venue for the city’s majestic carnival parades.


Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer at age 40.

Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer at age 40.