Oscar Niemeyer, the architect whose stylish and futuristic buildings put the thrill in Brazil's capital city Brasilia, died Wednesday in a Rio de Janeiro hospital. He was 104.
Niemeyer's remained an active architect until the end, with his work spanning nine decades. In addition to buildings in Brasilia, his birth city of Rio de Janeiro, Paris and other locales, Niemeyer also collaborated with fellow greats such as Le Corbusier to design the United Nations headquarters.
The New York Times gives him a good send-off in this obituary, but there is more. The above clip from the 1980 BBC television series The Shock of the New takes a critical look at Brasilia, while a 2012 report from Al Jazeera said real estate pressures might reshape the city and negatively affect its iconic modernist structures and site plan:
Chicago is a modern city endlessly fascinated by its past. Although still relatively young compared to the Londons and Parises of the world, Chicago's demolished buildings, bygone places and long-ago world's fairs capture our attention and a fair amount of net traffic judging by the popularity of excellent sites like Forgotten Chicago, Calumet 412 and the no-longer updated but still very good blog, Bright Lights Dim Beauty of Chicago.
Now comes a new hardcover book, Lost Chicago, that examines the way we were in this town. Written by John Paulett and Judy Floodstrand, the book looks at architecture that is no longer with us — places like the Henry Ives Cobb-designed Federal Building seen in the photo above — but also things we've forgotten about (until we remember) such as those three-wheel motorcycles Chicago coppers used to ride.
Lost Chicago is an immensely entertaining and beautifully illustrated book with great archival photography.
Chicago is architecture, history, power and politics -- often rolled into one. And there was a scene in the first season of the television show Boss that captured this better than anything I've seen on the tube.
The show's main character, Chicago Mayor Tom Kane in a bravura performance by Kelsey Grammar, meets Illinois State Treasurer Ben Zajac on the green roof atop the city's real-life City Hall. With his arm around Zajac, played by Jeff Hephner, Kane looks out over the skyline and speaks of Democratic power broker, and later mayor, Anton Cermak. As Kane talks, the modern Chicago skyline vanishes and is slowly replaced by previous-turn-of-the-century buildings, effectively taking us back in time as the story of how Cermak unified warring ethnic factions in the city by bringing them into the tent -- and sharing the political spoils with each of them -- is weaved.
Current-day Chicago returns when Kane's story ends and the lesson learned. It was a masterful scene -- the kind of smart stuff Boss often did during its two-season run on Starz.