Brasilia and Oscar Niemeyer
by Ellen Miller
One of the 20th century’s most influential architects — Oscar Niemeyer – died last week at the age of 104.
I felt lucky that just about 3 weeks prior I got a first hand introduction to his work when I was in Brasilia, a city for which he designed nearly every major building. As one architect said on his passing, “Brasilia is not simply designed, it is choreographed.”
That’s a perfect summary of my experience — not only did the buildings and the plazas hang together, but they were nearly picture perfect. (Though I found it hard to do justice to them.)
I was in Brasilia – my first trip there, but second to Brazil within six months – to speak at Transparency International’s conference – a gathering of nearly 2,000 from nearly every country in the world. Whenever possible on these speaking trips I try to sneak away for an afternoon when I am not needed, and hire a guide to learn something I couldn’t pick up from a guidebook.