Jørn Utzon died November 28 at age 90, after a long illness. He never saw his masterpiece, the Sydney Opera House, completed. Though it is among the 20th-century’s most widely admired and audacious works, it is the architect’s great failure. It jump-started a promising career and stunted what should have been a glorious maturity.
Utzon married a great intuitive aesthetic to an almost heroic faith in the ability of technology to realize human aspiration. The son of a naval architect, Utzon was born in Copenhagen in 1918. Influenced by a cousin who was a sculptor, he entered the Copenhagen Royal Academy of Fine Arts, where he studied architecture. He graduated in 1942 and went on to work for Gunnar Asplund, and later, Alvar Aalto, before establishing his own practice in 1950.