Oscar Niemeyer

On this date in 1907, architect Oscar Niemeyer was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was an artist and highly accomplished architect who designed the majority of the public buildings in Brasília, Brazil’s capital, in the 1950s. His works include Itamaraty Palace in Brasília (constructed in 1962), the Cathedral of Brasília (1970) and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Niterói (1996). He is often called Brazil’s greatest architect for his innovative modernist architecture. Active in politics as a socialist, he was forced into exile in France in 1964 when the military seized power in Brazil.

He was very public about his atheism but accepting of people with religious beliefs and designed churches and at least one mosque. “[I]n the end, that’s it — you are born, you die, that’s it.” (“Oscar Niemeyer: A Vida é um Sopro,” a 2007 documentary film.)

In 1988 he was awarded the Pritzker Architecture Prize along with Gordon Bunshaft, making Niemeyer the first and only South American to be awarded the Pritzker. In 2007 he published his memoir The Curves of Time. Niemeyer was married to Annita Baldo from 1928 until her death in 2004, and they had a daughter, Ana Maria. He married Vera Lúcia Cabreira, his longtime secretary, in 2007 when he was 98. They lived in a house he designed in 1951. He died at age 104. Samba music played at his interment. D. 2012

Freedom From Religion Foundation