January 3, 2005
Images: Courtesy Kenneth E.
Kruckemeyer and Barbara Knecht
When Oscar Niemeyer was a mere 47 years
old, he and fellow Brazilian, landscape architect Roberto
Burle Marx, collaborated on the design of Ibirapeura Park
to commemorate the city of Sao Paolos 400th anniversary.
Today, the city is 450 years old, and Niemeyer, at 97, has
completed the final building in the park, an 840 seat concert
hall. Best described as a white wedge with an undulating red
tongue, the decision to build it created a legal and public
battle between environmentalists and cultural advocates, including
Niemeyer, not for the form, but for the trees, it would take.
Niemeyer lives and works in Rio de Janeiro,
in sight of Copacabana beach. He shows up for work every day
by 10 AM in his miniscule, book-filled studio where he continues
to turn out work. The Curitiba (Brazil) Museum was completed
in 2002 during the governorship of (architect) Jaime Lerner
(now president of the International Union of Architects) and
the Contemporary Art Museum, hovering like a 50s spacecraft
on a cliff in Niteroi, Rio de Janeiro, was completed in 1996.
In a recent interview, Niemeyer, talked
of another of his latest projects, a novel titled, And
Now? which has just been published in Brazil. It is
the story of Lucas, his alter-ego, an old communist fighter
who has chosen not to become resigned to the brutalities of
life. Perhaps his quotation on the concert hall construction
sign over a sketch of the new building, conveys both his impatience
and his satisfaction, After so many years, the Audiorium
will be built and the entrance to Ibirapuera, finally, finished,
as it should have been.