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One of the main names in architecture and urban planning, Jaime Lerner dies at 83
| Foto: Albari Rosa/Arquivo/Gazeta do Povo

One of the main names in Brazilian and global urbanism, the architect Jaime Lerner passed away in the May 27th, at the age of 83, victim of complications of chronic kidney disease. Former Mayor and former Governor, Lerner’s body will be veiled at the Capela Mortuária Israelita Água Verde. The burial is confirmed to 3 pm at the Israelita Santa Candida Cemetery.

During the 1970s, ahead of the urban revolution that took the capital of Paraná name to the four corners of the world, Lerner was responsible for closing the XV de Novembro street, for creating urban parks that gave an identity to modern Curitiba and for the system of public transportation, through exclusive channels (the BRT), copied in more than 250 cities.

Jaime Lerner faleceu nesta quinta-feira (27), aos 83 anos.
Jaime Lerner faleceu nesta quinta-feira (27), aos 83 anos.| Albari Rosa/Arquivo/Gazeta do Povo

Those facts made his name revered and requested wherever he went (there are many cities with projects signed by Lerner) and he figures as the second largest urban planner in the world, according to the North American urban planning magazine Planetizen, which in 2018 listed the 100 most influential professionals of all time – Lerner being the only Brazilian.

The publication was not the first to praise the former governor’s work. Before his political life more than a decade ago, he created his greatest legacy in the capital of Paraná. Years ago, the Time magazine had already highlighted Jaime Lerner among the 25 most influential thinkers in the world. “[Curitiba] is the answer to a question that would otherwise be hypothetical: what would cities be like if urbanists, and not politicians, were in power?”, added The New York Times in 2007.

The urbanist

Son of Jewish-Polish immigrants and graduated in Architecture and Engineering from the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR), Lerner met at the academy many of the professionals that structured the Institute of Research and Urban Planning of Curitiba (IPPUC) with him, in 1965, and who worked on urban and transportation solutions that put Curitiba on the map. This list includes figures such as Lubomir Ficinski Dunin (deceased in 2017), Domingos Bongestabs, Abrão Assad and Osvaldo Navaro.

Jaime Lerner
Jaime Lerner em encontro com a reportagem de HAUS, da Gazeta do Povo, na ocasião da celebração de seus 80 anos, em 2017.| Albari Rosa/ Arquivo/ Gazeta do Povo

In the early 1970s, the indication of his name to the city hall gave him the opportunity to put them all into practice. And for the standars on duty, the answer came in a tone of good humor, as when the children were put to paint on the newly open sidewalk on XV the Novembro street and thus contained the protests of a car club that was opposed to the road closure for vehicles.

This was also the case with the channels for exclusive circulation of ‘express’ buses, which brought to the surface the concept of subway, a modal considerd “expensive” in the urban planner’s assessment.

The second revolution

In the 1990s, Lerner’s attention turned to the environment and sustainability, so much in vogue nowadays, in a movement many can judge as being avant-garde. In his third term as mayor, he taught Curitiba how to separate organic and recyclabe garbage by creating the “Garbage that is not garbage” program, and made the Folha family the face of the “Ecological Capital”.

Lerner e suas eternas tarturagas, animal que referenciava o que o urbanista acreditava ser o ideal para uma cidade: trabalho, moradia e lazer localizados perto um dos dos outros.
Lerner e suas eternas tarturagas, animal que referenciava o que o urbanista acreditava ser o ideal para uma cidade: trabalho, moradia e lazer localizados perto um dos dos outros.| Albari Rosa/Arquivo/Gazeta do Povo

Also from this period are parks such as the Opera de Arame, the Botanical Garden and the Rua 24 Horas, which, built in metal and glass, inaugurated a new architectural language for the city and still maintain their sovereignty when we talk about Curitiba postcards.

“[This language was] a good coincidence. These were works that needed to be built quickly, and the metallic material was obtained for the agility [that it offers]. They are included in the school of good architecture, which is simple, striking and fast in its execution”, detailed Lerner in an interview with HAUS magazine in 2017.

For the architect and urban planner, as he liked to be recognized and remembered, and who researched until the last few days in his office, located in the Cabral neighborhood, only one thing was missing: “more life”, as Lerner himself pointed out in his last face-to-face meeting with HAUS, in December of that year, when he celebrated his 80th birthday.

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