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The Olympics Effect

A rendering of the Museum of Tomorrow.


A rendering of the Museum of Tomorrow.  

Oscar Niemeyer aside, Rio is an architectural dud. But that is about to change, says third-generation city architect Thiago Bernardes, a partner at ­Bernardes + Jacobsen. Here’s why:

“Rio has been suffering architecturally since it ceased being capital of Brazil in 1960. We had a bunch of terrible governments, banks and money left and went to São Paulo, violence rose, the real-estate market declined, and construction companies started using in-house architects. But now we have a better government that has won the Olympics for Rio in 2016. A lot of outside money is appearing, and competitions are opening up for projects. There’s the urban-renewal project of the port district downtown—a beautiful historic area that has been terribly mistreated over the years. The museum I’m working on, the Museu de Arte do Rio, is in that area, on the Praça Mauá; it is a reformation of two buildings—the Palecete Dom João VI, built around 1910, and the other a former hospital built with a modernist spirit—which we’re connecting with a suspended plaza. ­Santiago Calatrava is also building the Museum of Tomorrow on an enormous pier there; it is a spectacular site that any architect in the world would be crazy about working on. And in Copacabana there’s the Museum of ­Image and Sound, by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Architects are thrilled with this whole story. They’re excited to be able to create architecture again in Rio de Janeiro.”


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