Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who was most well-known for helping to build the capital of Brasilia, passed away on Wednesday at the age of 104.
Niemeyer died at the Hospital Samaritano in Rio de Janeiro of a respiratory infection, according to hospital spokeswoman Elisa Barboux. ABC News reports that the architect was in the hospital for several weeks as well as during other occasions earlier this year. He suffered from kidney problems, pneumonia, and dehydration.
Niemeyer’s physician, Dr. Fernando Gjorup, stated that the architect continued working on pending projects in the days before he died. He continued to take visits from engineers and other professionals despite the problems he was having. Gjorup stated:
“The most impressive thing is that his body suffered but his mind was lucid. He didn’t talk about death, never talked about death. He talked about life.”
Oscar Niemeyer created works like Brasilia’s crown-shaped cathedral and the undulating French Communist Party building in Paris. He was known for his rejection of straight lines and steel-box structures. He wrote in a 1998 memoir called The Curves of Time:
“Right angles don’t attract me. Nor straight, hard and inflexible lines created by man. What attracts me are free and sensual curves. The curves we find in mountains, in the waves of the sea, in the body of the woman we love.”
The Washington Post notes that Niemeyer created the futuristic federal buildings of Brasilia in the 1950s. The project helped to launch the architect into the international spotlight, helping to define him as one of the most creative minds in his profession. Niemeyer also helped plan the United Nations Plaza in New York.
The architect received top professional honors for his wor, through which he protested the “orthodox functionalism” of the modern building style that he believed left little to no room for sensuality. He also drew off of Brazil’s colonial heritage using ornate, baroque architecture.
Oscar Niemeyer continued throughout his life to embrace architecture as a humanist endeavor. He also continually rejected the notion by critics that his buildings were nicer to look at than they were to live or work in.