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The Top 5 Oscar Niemeyer Architecture Sites

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Victor Soares/Agencia Brasil
Victor Soares/Agencia Brasil

Brazil's most famous architect, Oscar Niemeyer, died this month at the age of 104. But his eye-catching, visionary works will live on. Here, a few of my favorite must-see destinations for fans of Niemayer's modernist style.

Brasilia: The capital of Brazil was designed from the ground up in the 1950s, opening in 1960. As a completely new confection of the 20th century, the metropolis became a proving ground for many of Niemayer's most striking works of architecture, including the Alvorada Palace, the striking Monument for Juscelino Kubitschek and the futuristic Metropolitan Cathedral.

Curitiba: The Museu Oscar Niemeyer (Oscar Niemeyer Museum), which debuted in 2002, is an attention-getting creation, something like a gigantic eye that sits above a reflecting pond.

New York City: Together with French architect Le Corbusier, Niemeyer played a role in shaping the design of the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. "His work in designing United Nations Headquarters stands as his legacy to the world," said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a public statement.

Rio de Janeiro: A long-time resident of Rio de Janeiro, Niemeyer made his mark in many ways in this region, as he did in so many parts of Brazil. The currently empty, supremely circular Hotel Nacional (built between 1968 and 1972) is an example of his later work, and talk continues that it may reopen in time for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. Just across the bay, in the city of Niteroi, are two noteworthy Niemeyer creations: the Museu de Arte Contemporânea (Museum of Contemporary Art), which opened in 1996 and is a favorite photo subject, thanks to its flying saucer-like design, and the Centro Petrobras do Cinema, a new Brazilian film museum that is to open soon.

Sao Paulo: South America's largest city is home to some interesting examples of Niemeyer's work, including the 38-story Copan Building, a curvy residential structure completed in 1966 that's one of the largest buildings in Brazil (so large that it has its own postal code). The Memorial da América Latina (Latin American Memorial), which debuted in 1989, is a cultural complex and event space with a permanent collection of art, including an iconic concrete sculpture of a giant "bleeding" hand, with the red evocative of the shape of Latin America.

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