In contemplating Niemeyer’s career, which began during the 1930s when he joined a team of Brazilian architects collaborating with Le Corbusier, a good case can be made that his legacy will be Brazil’s capital, Brasília. He was engaged to advise on the city’s design in 1956 and soon became its chief architect, creating many of the key public buildings until changing political winds forced him to leave the country in 1964. Contemporary observers might fault this city ex nuovo for its decidedly unsustainable qualities, as indeed past generations saw it as overblown and bleakly underpopulated, but it’s hard to ignore the influence that Niemeyer’s dynamic, sculptural forms—rendered largely in concrete—still have a half-century later.
It’s also easy to detect the influence of Niemeyer’s earlier work on his current projects, including those in the city of Niterói, located across the Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro. His works there include the Niterói Museum of Contemporary Art, which dates to 1996 and is considered a later masterpiece, and the Popular Theater, which opened this April.
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The city of Niterói, located across the Guanabara Bay from Rio de Janeiro, features some of Niemeyer’s most recent projects. The Popular Theater, for example, opened on April 5, 2007 and marked the beginning of celebrations in advance of Niemeyer’s centennial birthday.