IN a rare opinion piece in today's Correio Braziliense, Oscar Niemeyer, the 101-year-old architect who designed the Brazilian capital Brasilia, defended his proposed Sovereignty Place that he designed for the Government of the Federal District. (See photo)
Niemeyer says that many critics, most of whom really don't know much about architecture and urban planning, have criticized his project saying it was inappropriate for the capital city. He said that all great cities of the world, from Paris to New York, have had to evolve and develop organically after being initially planned.
In the course of defending his new monument, Niemeyer reveals that when Brasilia was being built in the late 1950s he was approached by president of the Institute of Architects of Brazil, who asked him to give his group the sole right to design and develop the Plano Piloto. The leftist architect said "no" and points out that is why the late Lucio Costa ended up doing the urban planning of the capital.
Niemeyer also reveals that when the first criticisms of his new Brasilia monument appeared, Maria Elisa Costa, the daughter of Lucio, went to his office in Rio de Janeiro and told him that she had no objections to it. Then two days later, he further reveals, he received a letter from her saying that she had changed her mind and now objected to his Presidents' Memorial, another new monument near Sovereignty Place, saying it would ruin the look of the Central Bus Station.
It is interesting that the original architect of a capital city is still alive and designing new monuments for it, nearly 50 years after Brasilia was inaugurated.
Niemeyer concludes by saying that as an architect he really does not care what the critics are saying, as he is just fulfilling a project of the Government of the Federal District. But, for a man who has poured his heart and soul into Brasilia, it is clear that he does care what people say about him and his projects. Brasilia is, after all, his magnus opus.