Over the last two decades, architect Lucien Lagrange has re-defined luxury housing with buildings such as Park Tower, 65 East Goethe, the Waldorf Astoria, and the Ritz Carlton Residences in Chicago and 535 West End and Le Touraine in New York. Based in Chicago, he has also completed projects in Italy, Russia, Saudi Arabia and China.
Lagrange’s strengths as a designer stem from his instinctive civility and humanity, his formidable knowledge of architectural history and his fundamental respect for architectural process.
Born in Paris, he has succeeded in combining a European respect for tradition and fine materials with the functionality and enhanced services one expects in a modern luxury building.
“There are buildings in Paris I go and look at over and over again,” he says. “I think they are beautiful.”
For Lagrange, a building’s style is determined only after the particulars of its program – its site, neighborhood and residents -- have been carefully analyzed. “Architecture,” he says, “is about people and lifestyles before it’s about anything else.”
His range is extraordinary. He is one of the few contemporary architects capable of designing everything from 19th Century Beaux Arts “hotel particuliers” to modern steel and glass skyscrapers.
“I truly believe,” he says, “that there are many ways to do a given project and that the client needs to be in on the decision-making process.”
Lagrange is also known for the sensitive way he handles the renovation and restoration of historic buildings.
In Chicago, these include his renovation and restoration of the Insurance Exchange Building and the Blackstone Hotel as well as his re-purposing of the Carbide and Carbon Building and the Continental Bank Building into award-winning hotels.
“In architecture, ultimately, there has to be meaning,” he says. “You’re affecting the society you live in and it’s going to last a hundred years. It’s not disposable.”