Today, January 28, we had the privilege of meeting with Jaime Lerner, an architect and urban planner, who was mayor of Curitiba three times. The morning began by meeting with Mariluce, our tour guide and a Professor of Architecture teaching Urban Infrastructure, for our second day in Curitiba. We all gathered in the lobby of our hotel and took the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) to Jaime Lerner’s architecture office. The weather was beautiful as we rushed through the streets to be on time for our meeting with Mr. Lerner.
Mr. Lerner was a very friendly and intelligent man with great ideas for the current and future improvements of global cities. He talked to us about current projects he is working on in Rio and around the world, Pacification, the relationship between people and their city, automobiles, and the responsibilities of being a mayor. He also spoke about his time when he was mayor of Curitiba, issues of safety within the city, and public service. We all enjoyed hearing about his ideas on urban planning and how diverse people living together can make a compatible city. One interesting aspect that he talked about that struck out for me was his analogy of the city as a turtle. He compared to the shell of the turtle with all its sub-parts to the different aspects of the city, and suggested that if the shell were cut apart into these separate pieces, the turtle would be destroyed. In the same way, he argued that keeping the different parts of the city together (and not separated) is essential to keeping the city alive and in good health.
Mr. Lerner is a very busy man with active consulting and advising projects on transportation and mobility for cities around the world, so we let him leave to attend to his other commitments. After our very informative meeting, we were fortunate to get a tour of his architecture firm from one of the architects that works there. The building has been there for eight years and is very unique with its funky contemporary architecture. It was fun to walk around and see all the friendly architects busy at work, but as Mr. Lerner said, they always have fun and that’s a very important part, “they have to have fun.” We ended our tour by thanking the people at Mr. Lerner’s firm and taking a group picture with Mr. Lerner and Mariluce in the courtyard of his office.
By the time we finished our meeting and tour, we were all famished and headed out to find a place to eat. Lunch was at this amazing burger place and we all stuffed our faces with burgers and fries. We had finally got the hang of ordering as we wrote down on a piece of paper what we wanted and gave it to our Coach, Alison, who took care of our orders. Content after our delicious meal, we took the silver bus, which is known as the “speedy bus,” and headed to the Panorama Tower.
The Panorama Tower is built on the highest part of the city, in the Mercês neighborhood. Inaugurated in 1991, this tower is managed by Oi company and has an outstanding 360 degree view of the city and rests at 109.5 meters high. When we arrived, we all rushed into the elevator, six at a time, to hurry to the top. Like we expected, the view was outstanding and we all walked around in awe. From the tower we could see the places we had visited earlier, such as the Oscar Niemeyer Museum and the Botanical Gardens, and we could also spot the neighborhood of our hotel. Mariluce pointed out all the parks and how many high-rise buildings were planned directly along the BRT corridor with mid- to low-rise buildings spreading past them. She also explained that there are six green buses that connect the burrows.
After our day filled with many exciting activities we took the bus back to the hotel. We promised to see Mariluce again either in Curitiba or Boston and thanked her for her time and great knowledge. We changed into comfortable clothing and took the van back to the airport. Later in the evening, we got on the plane and headed off to Rio, exhausted after our long research day in Curitiba.