Oscar Niemeyer


There are plenty of examples where architects and our profession are being under-valued or marginalised. This is happening to the great detriment of our built environment and it seems to be the direction we are heading in Australia. I’ve heard of many situations where good quality architecture is being fluffed or simplified by a real estate agent or graphic designer to make it “easier to sell” regardless of build quality or function. Look farther afield and it seems to be a different story: France, Italy, Cuba, the Netherlands and to some extent the UK all see greater value in quality design and in the talents of their architects.

To celebrate the Rio Olympics this week lets look at Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer (1907 – 2012) as he was one of the greats. Assuming his career started at 20 and we know he worked solidly until his death at the age of 105, that makes for about 75 productive years. In that time he produced some extraordinary buildings and he was very vocal on the state of the profession. Some may have noticed the Olympic opening ceremony included a couple of podiums and stages that were referencing his work. His achievements did not go unnoticed and he received numerous accolades over the years. Below is a list that was taken from Wikipedia so who knows what it is missing, regardless the list is long with hi-lights such as the Pritzker in 88, both a Knight in 70 and Commander in 07 for the Legion of Honour (France), the RIBA Gold Medal (UK) and the Venice Biennale Gold Lion twice. We don’t do it for the accolades but yes we do. Follow the jump to see the full list.

• Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1949)
• Medal of the Order of Merit of Labour (Brazil, 1959)
• International Lenin Peace Prize (1963)
• Golden Lion of the Venice Biennale (Italy, 1963)
• Honorary Member of the American Institute of Architects (1963)
• Honorary Member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters (USA, 1964)
• Premio Benito Juarez on the occasion of the centennial of the Mexican Revolution (1964)
• Médaille Joliot-Curie (1965)
• Piece for strings, brass, pianos by the Swiss avant-garde composer Hermann Meier dedicated to Niemeyer (1967)
• Knight of the Legion of Honour (Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur) (France, 1970)
• Commander of the Order of Prince Henry (Portugal, March 3, 1975)
• Lorenzo il Magnifico Prize of the Accademia Internazionale Medicea (Italy, 1980)
• Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters (Ordre des Arts et des Lettres) (France, 1982)
• Honorary Member of the Academy of Arts of the USSR (1983)
• Pritzker Prize for Architecture (1988) (with Gordon Bunshaft)
• Prince of Asturias Award (1989)
• Honorary Doctor of the University of Brasília (1989)
• Chico Mendes Resistance Medal (1989)
• Gold Medal of the Colegio de Arquitectos de Barcelona (1990)
• Knight Commander of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, bestowed by Pope John Paul II (1990)
• Grand Cross of the Order of Saint James of the Sword (Portugal, November 26, 1994)
• Honorary doctorate from the University of São Paulo (1995)
• Doctor Honoris Causa from the Federal University of Minas Gerais (1995)
• Saurí Order, 1st class (Dominican Republic, 1996)
• Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, VI International Architecture Exhibition (Italy, 1996)
• Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects (1998)
• Order of Solidarity (Cuba, 2001)
• Darcy Ribeiro Medal of Merit (State Board of Education of the State of Rio de Janeiro, 2001)
• Unesco Award in the category of Culture (2001)
• Grand Officer of the Order of Merit Teaching and Cultural Gabriela Mistral (Ministry of Education of Chile, 2001)
• “20th century architect” (Superior Council of the Institute of Architects of Brazil, 2001)
• Konex Award (Argentina, 2002)
• Praemium Imperiale (Japan, 2004)
• Austrian Decoration for Science and Art (2005)
• Patron of Brazilian architecture, declared by Law No. 11,117, of May 18, 2005
• Order of Cultural Merit (Brazil, 2007)
• Commander of the Legion of Honour (Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur) (France, 2007)
• Order of Friendship (Russia, 2007)
• Medal Oscar Niemeyer’s Communist Party Marxist-Leninist (2007)
• ALBA Arts Award (Venezuela, 2008), Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua [78]
• Order of Arts and Letters of Spain (November 6, 2009)
• Doctor Honoris Causa of the Technical University of Lisbon (2009)