Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff received with honors at the Planalto Palace on Thursday the mortal remains of architect Oscar Niemeyer, one of Brasilia’s great creative geniuses, who died this week at the age of 104.
Rousseff, accompanied by Niemeyer’s widow, Vera Lucia Cabreira, waited on the upper part of the palace access ramp for the casket, covered with the Brazilian flag, to be brought up on the shoulders of police officers, flanked by the palace honor guard.
In Brazilian protocol, moving up the presidential ramp is reserved for heads of state.
The decision to have Niemeyer lie in state at the presidential palace came from Rousseff, who on Wednesday evening was in touch with the architect’s relatives to express her condolences and make the offer to them.
After the official tribute, the viewing will be open to the public for about four hours.
Niemeyer’s burial is scheduled for Friday afternoon at the Sao Joao Batista cemetery in the Rio de Janeiro neighborhood of Botafogo, very near where he was born on Dec. 15, 1907, and the hospital where he died a month after being admitted with kidney problems.
Despite his advanced age, Niemeyer, winner of Spain’s prestigious Prince of Asturias Prize for the Arts in 1989, remained professionally active up until what turned out to be his final illness.
The acclaimed architect and avowed communist, who a half century ago designed the main buildings of Brasilia, the nation’s futuristic capital city, became known for the flowing curves of his reinforced concrete structures.