Oscar Niemeyer, Brazilian Architect, Dies At 104

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Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who designed some of the 20th Century's most famous modernist buildings, has died just before his 105th birthday.

Niemeyer designed Brazil's futuristic capital, Brasilia, as well as the UN building in New YorkBrazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who designed some of the 20th Century's most famous modernist buildings, has died just before his 105th birthday.

He rose to international fame as the architect of the main government buildings in the futuristic Brazilian capital, Brasilia, inaugurated in 1960.

He also worked with Swiss-born modernist architect Le Corbusier on the UN building in New York.

He continued to work on new projects until earlier this year.

He died on Wednesday at a hospital in Rio de Janeiro.

Inspirational women's curves

Oscar Niemeyer started his career in the 1930s, when Brazil was still copying neoclassical European architecture and designing ornate palace-like buildings.

His bold futuristic designs in Brasilia made the new capital a dramatic statement of confidence in the future of Brazil, and an icon of modern architecture.

A student of Le Corbusier, he developed a distinctive style defined by stark concrete and sweeping curves.

He famously once said the stylized swoops in his buildings were inspired by the curves of Brazilian women.

"When you have a large space to conquer, the curve is the natural solution," he said.

"I once wrote a poem about the curve. The curve I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean and on the body of the beloved woman."

A firm communist - and a personal friend of Cuban leader Fidel Castro - Niemeyer fled the country during Brazil's military dictatorship and forged an international career while in exile in France.

In 1988, he was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Prize.

His style was not to everyone's taste, and for a communist some people say his work was not very people-friendly - focusing more on the architecture's form than on its inhabitants or functionality.

Niemeyer went on to create more than 600 buildings around the world. His legacy endures in museums, monuments, schools and churches in Brazil and beyond.

Many of the designs were initially sketched on a table overlooking his beloved Rio de Janeiro and its famous Copacabana beach, replete with the women, waves and hills from which he drew such inspiration.