Jaime Lerner

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Jaime Lerner
Jaime Lerner May 2004.jpg
Lerner in 2004
Governor of Paraná
In office
1 January 1995 – 31 December 2002
Preceded byMário Pereira
Succeeded byRoberto Requião
Mayor of Curitiba
In office
1 January 1989 – 31 December 1992
Preceded byEdgar Dantas Pimentel
Succeeded byDonato Gulin
In office
15 March 1979 – 15 March 1983
Nominated byNey Braga
Preceded bySaul Raiz
Succeeded byMaurício Fruet
In office
Nominated byHaroldo Leon Peres
Preceded byRoberto Requião
Succeeded byRafael Greca
Personal details
Born(1937-12-17)17 December 1937
Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil
Died27 May 2021(2021-05-27) (aged 83)
Curitiba, Paraná, Brazil
Political party
  • ARENA (1971–1979)
  • PDS (1980–1985)
  • PDT (1985–1997)
  • PFL (1997–2003)
  • PSB (2003–2008)
  • DEM (2008–2021)
Fani Lerner
(m. 1964; died 2009)
Alma materFederal University of Paraná
ProfessionArchitect and urbanist

Jaime Lerner (17 December 1937 – 27 May 2021) was a Brazilian politician. He was the governor of the state of Paraná, in southern Brazil. He is renowned as an architect and urban planner, having been mayor of Curitiba, capital of Paraná, three times (1971–1974, 1979–1983 and 1989–1992). In 1994, Lerner was elected governor of Paraná, and was re-elected in 1998.[1]

As an urban planner and architect, he was renowned in Brazil as he helped design most of the city walkways, roads, and public transportation of Curitiba such as the Rede Integrada de Transporte. In 1965, he helped create the Instituto de Pesquisa e Planejamento Urbano de Curitiba and designed the Curitiba Master Plan.

Early life[edit]

Lerner was born into a Jewish family,[2] originally from Łódź, Poland, who emigrated to Curitiba. He graduated from the Escola de Arquitetura da Universidade Federal do Paraná; (Architecture School of the Federal University of Paraná) in 1964. In 1965, he helped create the Instituto de Pesquisa e Planejamento Urbano de Curitiba (Institute of Urban Planning and Research of Curitiba, also known as IPPUC) and participated in the design of the Curitiba Master Plan.[3]

Mayor of Curitiba[edit]

In 1988, Jaime Lerner announced his candidacy for mayor of Curitiba with only 12 days remaining before the election. During his first term, Lerner implemented the Rede Integrada de Transporte (also called bus rapid transit), and continued to implement a host of social, ecological, and urban reforms during his ensuing terms as mayor.

As mayor, Lerner employed unorthodox solutions to Curitiba's geographic challenges. Like many cities, Curitiba is bordered by floodplain. Wealthier cities in the United States, such as New Orleans and Sacramento, have built expensive and expensive-to-maintain levee systems on floodplain. In contrast, Curitiba purchased the floodplain and made parks. The city now ranks among the world leaders in per-capita park area. Curitiba had the problem of its status as a third-world city, unable to afford the tractors and petroleum to mow these parks. The innovative response was "municipal sheep" who keep the parks' vegetation under control and whose wool funds children's programs.[4]

When Lerner became mayor, Curitiba had some bairros impossible to service by municipal waste removal. The "streets" were too narrow. Rather than abandon these people or raze these slums, Lerner began a program that traded bags of groceries and transit passes for bags of trash. The slums got much cleaner.

Similarly, Curitiba has a nearby bay that was a dumping ground that would be extremely costly to clean up. Lerner began a program that paid fishermen for any garbage they retrieved (by the pound). That way, they can make money even outside fishing season, supplementing their income. The savings to Curitiba are in the millions.

Lerner instituted many innovative social and educational programs. Bairro kids can be apprenticed to city employees if they want to avoid going to school. Although his term as mayor is not without controversy, Curitiba does not have the gangs of much more populous cities such as Rio de Janeiro.

Bus Rapid Transit[edit]

Bi-articulated bus of Curitiba
Tube-shaped bus shelter in Curitiba, created during the Lerner era

Perhaps the crown jewel of Curitiba's achievements is its Rede Integrada de Transporte Bus Rapid Transit system (called "Speedybus"). Originally, the city was given federal money to build a subway (Curitiba is not a small town), but Lerner discovered that "heavy rail" like a subway costs ten times the amount of "light rail" (trolleys), which, in turn, costs ten times a bus system, even with dedicated bus ways. The "light rail" savings usually touted to sway municipal decision makers occur because even trolleys can have relatively fewer drivers than a 40-60 passenger bus. He got Volvo to make 270 person Swedish articulated buses (300 Brazilians, said Lerner),[5] so that the problem of a lower passenger-number-to-driver ratio was no longer an issue. The city built attractive transit stops with the look and feel of train stations, and all with handicapped access equipment, inducing private firms to purchase and operate the buses. A hierarchy of buses of six sizes feed one another. The city controls the routes and fares, while the private companies hire drivers and maintain equipment.

Natural land-use patterns within the city of Curitiba support public transit systems. Buildings along the dedicated busways are up to six stories tall, gradually giving way, within a few blocks, to single story homes. This mix of densities ensures sufficient user population within walking distance of bus stops.

As Governor of Paraná[edit]

As governor of Paraná, Lerner used a policy of attracting investment to turn the state into one of Brazil's industrial hubs, generating investments of over US$20 billion between 1995 and 2001. Following upon his experience in Curitiba, Lerner focused on issues like transport, education, health, sanitation, leisure, and industrialization.

UNICEF awarded Lerner the Child and Peace Prize in 1996 for his programs "'Da Rua para a Escola'" (From the Street to School), "'Protegendo a Vida'" (Protecting Life), and "'Universidade do Professor'" (Professor's University).

In 2011, Lerner was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for the illegal layoff of a public tender during his mandate as governor. He wasn't arrested due to his age.[6]

Later life[edit]

At the General Assembly of the International Union of Architects in July 2002, Lerner was elected president for a period of three years.[7] Lerner was also a professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the Universidade Federal do Paraná, his alma mater, and has been a guest professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

In April 2005, Jaime Lerner participated in the Symposium of China Bus Rapid Transit Initiative (Shanghai) to promote the BRT project in some larger cities. He was specially interviewed [8] which made an impact on mayors and urban planners across China.

Lerner was a member of the Board of Directors of World Resources Institute.[9][10]

Lerner died of kidney disease on May 27, 2021, at the age of 83.[11]

Selected bibliography[edit]

  • Acupuntura urbana (Editora Record, ISBN 85-01-06851-9, 2003)
  • O vizinho: parente por parte de rua (Editora Record, ISBN 85-01-06877-2, 2005)


Lerner has won a variety of Brazilian and international prizes:


  1. ^ Power, Mike (5 November 2009). "Common sense and the city: Jaime Lerner, Brazil's green revolutionary". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Bloom, Nate (May 21, 2010). "Jewish Stars 5/21". Cleveland Jewish News.
  3. ^ Adler, David (2016-05-06). "Story of cities #37: how radical ideas turned Curitiba into Brazil's 'green capital'". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-03.
  4. ^ Lubow, Arthur (2007-05-20). "The Road to Curitiba (Published 2007)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-02-14.
  5. ^ Acupuntura urbana, 2003
  6. ^ "Ex-governador Jaime Lerner é condenado a três anos e meio de prisão". O Globo. Aug 12, 2011. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  7. ^ "Jaime Lerner, UIA President, 2002–2005". Archived from the original on Mar 19, 2007. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  8. ^ Listen Talks of the Father in BRT
  9. ^ World Resources Institute Biosketch of Jaime Lerner Archived 2012-04-27 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed March 27, 2012.
  10. ^ RELEASE: WRI Announces Three New Board Members Representing Business, Academia, and Government Archived 2012-04-27 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed March 27, 2012.
  11. ^ "Jaime Lerner, ex-governador do Paraná, morre aos 83 anos". G1. Retrieved May 27, 2021.
  12. ^ "Neutra Award Recipients 1980-2012". CAL POLY POMONA DEPT. OF ARCHITECTURE. Archived from the original on 2014-10-19. Retrieved 2014-10-12.
  13. ^ "Jaime Lerner". Archived from the original on 2013-10-19. Retrieved 2013-10-18.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Edgar Dantas Pimentel
Mayor of Curitiba
Succeeded by
Donato Gulin
Preceded by
Saul Raiz
Succeeded by
Maurício Fruet
Preceded by Succeeded by
Preceded by
Mário Pereira
Governor of Paraná
Succeeded by
Trade union offices
Preceded by
Vassilis Sgoutas
President of the International Union of Architects
Succeeded by