RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil's most famous architect, Oscar Niemeyer, celebrated his 102nd birthday Tuesday in typical fashion: at work on projects rather than pondering his supercentennial age.
"Turning 102 is crap, and there is nothing to commemorate," he told AFP.
Niemeyer, who was born in 1907 in Rio de Janeiro, where he still lives, is famed for designing some of Brazil's most distinctive buildings, among them Rio's Sambodrome and the nearby Niteroi Contemporary Art Museum, and many of the futuristic edifices of the capital Brasilia.
His inspiration for the domes, curves and sweeping lines that make up his style he has said is "the body of the Brazilian woman."
Niemeyer has witnessed Brazil's progression from a chaotic new republic, a 1964-1985 military regime that forced him into exile in Paris, and the increasingly prosperous return to democracy that the country now enjoys.
His conclusion on Tuesday? Brazil is more "egalitarian since a former worker arrived in power," the former Communist said, referring to Brazil's current president, former trade union leader and steelworker Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
The architect, sitting in his studio overlooking Copacabana beach, explained to AFP that one project he was managing was the renovation of the central avenue of the Sambodrome, where the most famous of Brazil's glitz-and-flesh Carnival parades are held.
Another was a Niemeyer Complex planned for Niteroi, the town across Rio's bay that already proudly hosts many of his buildings.
There is also the Aviles International Cultural Center to be opened in Spain next year.
Even in old age, Niemeyer continues to flaunt his love of life. He still enjoys his cigars -- "an old habit that I cultivate with much gusto." Four years ago, at age 98 and a widower, he married his 60-year-old secretary.
But nobody lives forever. In September Niemeyer was hospitalized for three weeks to have surgery on his gall bladder and to have a tumor removed from his colon.
"I don't fear death," he told the Rio newspaper O Dia this week.
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