Brazil opens Niemeyer museum as he turns 103

Legendary Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer marked his 103rd birthday Wednesday with a gift too big to be wrapped with a bow: a museum bearing his name and dedicated to his illustrious career.

"My friends have come to see me. How nice," he told reporters at a reception unveiling the Oscar Niemeyer Foundation in nearby Niteroi.

The modern city 14 kilometers (eight miles) outside Rio de Janeiro, is already brimming with modernist works by the building design master, including the city's chief landmark, the Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum.

The new museum houses designs, drawings, models and other architecture artifacts from Niemeyer's 70-year career.

Most famous for designing Brazil's ultramodern capital city of Brasilia, Niemeyer has designed more than 600 projects around the world and created some of the nation's most distinctive buildings.

His works include a suite of the government building in the national capital city Brasilia and the headquarters for the United Nations in New York.

Niemeyer's design for the city of Belo Horizonte included 14 buildings, one of which is a massive structure housing the new seat of government.

His numerous awards include the Pritzker, likened to being a Nobel prize for the world of architecture, which he won in 1988.

Despite recurring illness over the past year, the centenarian remains at work, and still shows his flair for eye-catching design. His dramatic reinvention of the capital city of Minas Gerais was unveiled earlier this year.

The Rio native, born here in 1907, once famously said that the stylized swoops in his buildings were inspired by the curves of "the Brazilian woman."

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