Though regarded as an icon of world architecture, the master of the curve and one of Brazil’s foremost intellectuals, Oscar Niemeyer, who passed away in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday at the grand old age of 104, always regarded himself as a simple man, no different to anyone else.
“The world lost a visionary,” tweeted FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter on learning of his death. “Oscar Niemeyer influenced Brazil's architecture like no other, creating its capital from scratch. Our condolences.”
“Niemeyer has gone, but his works, which are spread across the cities of Brazil and the entire world, will live on,” commented Jose Maria Marin, the President of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Organising Committee (LOC). “Visitors from abroad who are not familiar with his work will have the chance to see it at the FIFA Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup.”
Niemeyer’s keynote project, the Brazilian capital Brasilia, will host the opening match of the forthcoming FIFA Confederations Cup, on 15 June 2013. And 12 months later, thousands of people will gather for the city’s FIFA Fan Fest amid the buildings on the Esplanada dos Ministerios, one of his finest projects.
“If you go to Brasilia you might not like the buildings, but you can’t say you’ve ever seen anything like it. And that’s what architecture is: invention,” said Niemeyer in an interview in 2001.
“Brasilia is an open-air museum and our task was to make the stadium an integral part of the city’s architecture,” said Vicente Castro Mello, the architect of Brasilia’s Estadio Nacional. “It’s for that reason that the stadium reworks Niemeyer’s designs by using large columns as the façade of the arena. As a public building, Estadio Nacional also ties in with Niemeyer ideals.”
Long before he took on the task of building Brasilia in partnership with the city planner Lucio Costa, Niemeyer left his indelible mark on Belo Horizonte, another Host City of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™.
Regarded as the starting point of the architect’s great career, the city is planning to make the Pampulha architectural complex, situated next to the Estadio Mineirao, its main attraction during the FIFA Confederations Cup and FIFA World Cup™. Opened in April 2010, the seat of the regional government of Minas Gerais is another Niemeyer landmark and is home to the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ Brazil Special Events Committee.
Curitiba, another Brazil 2014 Host City, is planning to stage a football exhibition during FIFA World Cup™ year at the Museu Oscar Niemeyer, ranked as one of the 20 most beautiful museums in the world by an influential American culture and critique site.
Sao Paulo, the venue for the Opening Match of Brazil 2014, boasts a number of other Niemeyer designs of interest to visitors, such as the OCA building in Ibirapuera Park, where his Bienal Pavilion and Ibirapuera Pavilion can also be found, as well as the Latin American Memorial in the district of Barra Funda, and the Copan Building on Avenida Ipiranga. The architect was also the man behind Natal’s Parque da Cidade (City Park).
In the late 1940s Niemeyer presented a design for the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, the venue for the deciding match at Brazil 1950 and the Brazil 2014 Final. Though his project was overlooked in favour of a circular stadium, he modestly acknowledged that the winning design was superior to his.
Many years later Niemeyer would sit on a selection panel himself, helping to choose the Brazil 2014 logo. He commented at the time that the process of selecting a design representing the tournament was a very important one for Brazil.
“Choosing a logo is a crucial phase in the organisation of an event of this magnitude,” the great architect said in a 2009 interview. “It needs to combine visual clarity and good taste, in keeping with the grandeur of the tournament.”