written by:
September 8, 2010

I've always been fascinated with instant cities, usually planless boomtowns based on a quick commercial strike or immediately evolved to absorb the overflow of some metropolis. But occasionally these cities, like Brasilia or Canberra, arrive fully formed with the sole intent of housing the government. Lacking the accreted monumental core of great capitals like Washington DC, London, or Pairs, these cities sprout like Athena, fully formed visions of what a great city might be, but so often flops as places to live. Though I'm not convinced I'd like to take up residence, the notion of designing a whole city from scratch, and being charged with making at least some elements of it as grand as possible,  feels like an architect's dream. An exhibition of photos opening tomorrow at 1500 Gallery in New York and curated by Murillo Meirelles suggests just that. Brasilia displays vintage photos from several photographers celebrating the 50th anniversary of Brazil's capital city. They images are amazing, the designs still inspired. The show is on through November 27th.

Oscar Niemeyer, one of the architects behind Brasilia's grand modernist vision, stands in front of the Supreme Court. Photo by Gil Pinhero.
Oscar Niemeyer, one of the architects behind Brasilia's grand modernist vision, stands in front of the Supreme Court. Photo by Gil Pinhero.
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An aerial shot of the esplanade, which really does seem to make the case that Brasilia crash landed on the landscape. Photo by Nicolau Drey.
An aerial shot of the esplanade, which really does seem to make the case that Brasilia crash landed on the landscape. Photo by Nicolau Drey.
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A group of workers at rest on large pipes. Photo by Gervasio Batista.
A group of workers at rest on large pipes. Photo by Gervasio Batista.
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This nighttime shot shows the great white bowl that sits atop the National Congress. Photo by Jader Neves.
This nighttime shot shows the great white bowl that sits atop the National Congress. Photo by Jader Neves.
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The great geometry of the National Congress's concrete supports make a fine frame for construction workers in this photo by Gervasio Batista.
The great geometry of the National Congress's concrete supports make a fine frame for construction workers in this photo by Gervasio Batista.
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Workers continue constructing Brasilia with the scaffolding-clad towers of the National Congress in the background. Photo by Gervasio Batista.
Workers continue constructing Brasilia with the scaffolding-clad towers of the National Congress in the background. Photo by Gervasio Batista.
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Here is the incredible facade of the Supreme Court. Photo by Gervasio Batista.
Here is the incredible facade of the Supreme Court. Photo by Gervasio Batista.
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Oscar Niemeyer, one of the architects behind Brasilia's grand modernist vision, stands in front of the Supreme Court. Photo by Gil Pinhero.
Oscar Niemeyer, one of the architects behind Brasilia's grand modernist vision, stands in front of the Supreme Court. Photo by Gil Pinhero.

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