Brasília has been controversial since Oscar Niemeyer’s masterpiece burst upon the global scene in 1961. History had never seen anything like it: a city that was built where nothing had existed in just a few years. To some Brazil’s capital is an Orwellian nightmare; others revere Brasília for boasting one of the world’s best collections of mid-century architecture. President Juscelino Kubitschek’s vision of Brasília was to let the world know that Brazil had arrived; and while it took a few decades for the reality of Brazil to catch up with Kubitschek’s dream, now Brazil and Brasília now roar, becoming giants on the world’s diplomatic and economic scene as a power that no one dares to dismiss.

But now Brasília’s magnificent buildings are in decline. What became the world’s youngest UNESCO world heritage site 25 years ago is now undergoing scrutiny by that same organization. According to UNESCO, Brasília’s leaders tasked with the site’s care have done little to follow the rules that dictate the maintaining and monitoring of the city’s historical assets. Brazilians deny there is much to worry about, but UNESCO has sent a mission to Brasília to gauge whether the city’s architecture has suffered any damage and determine any changes made to the city’s original design.

Dom Bosco Church, Brasília

Dom Bosco Church, Brasília

Depending on the mission’s findings, that could land Brasília on UNESCO’s endangered list, which means the city would have to comply with the organization’s conservation recommendations. That is not necessarily bad news; while it seems odd that a city only a half-century old would need some historic preservation measures, anything that can be done to preserve this architectural wonder is well worth the time and effort.

Photo above left is of the Palácio da Alvorada; photo above center is of the Dom Bosco Church; both photos courtesy Wiki Commons.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of Based in California, he specializes in social media consulting and strategic communications. A journalist and writer since 2009, his work has appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. Areas of interest include the <a Middle East, sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at You can also reach out via Twitter (Leon Kaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). Since 2013, he has spent much of his time in Abu Dhabi, UAE, working with Masdar, the emirate's renewable energy company. He lives in Fresno, California.