Danish architect Jørn Utzon, designer of the Sydney Opera House, died today. He was 90. Taught by Alvar Aalto and declared a genius by none other than Eero Saarinen, Utzon designed one of the most recognizable structures on the planet.
Still, his name is uncommon, if not unknown. Utzon designed the opera house in 1957 at age 39, but outrageous cost overruns (it was 1,400% over budget) and skirmishes over the design made him quit the project in 1966. It was finished seven years later without him. He never returned to Australia.
The opera house's sail-like roof was supposedly inspired by Utzon peeling an orange; the curved slices fit into a perfect sphere. The house won Utzon the Pritzker Prize—architecture's highest honor—in 2003, proving, the jury declared, that "the marvelous and seemingly impossible in architecture can be achieved."