It’s a bit of a conundrum for fans of modern architecture that the designer behind some of the city’s coolest and most progressive recent designs is best known for buildings that look like they stepped out of 19th century Paris. But this architect’s versatility (contemporary design fans, substitute another word there, if you prefer) was key when it came to creating Lincoln Park 2520, the high-end tower planned for 2520 N Lakeview Ave.
Early on, the developer considered a modern design, says Lucien Lagrange, who, in case you haven’t guessed, is the architect in question. The builder considered something aesthetically closer to X/O, Lagrange’s pair of leaning, asymmetrical glassy towers planned for the South Loop.
“So we did a very modern façade for the building,” Lagrange says. “And it worked! In the end, a step at a time, our new client realized that it wasn’t the thing to do, and it wasn’t what the public wanted.”
The development team figured prospective buyers would be most attracted to a more vintage style. “It’s a very much understated street because a lot of wealthy people live there,” Lagrange says. “They don’t like to show off, they like to be quiet – the kind of people who don’t go out to East Lake Shore Drive and the Gold Coast. They don’t want anybody to know who they are. So the market was for certainly high-end residents.”
Despite his own forays into modern design and the considerable praise he’s received for his contemporary buildings, Lagrange can be dismissive when it comes to angular steel-and-glass structures with clean lines, no stone and little ornament. “A lot of people don’t find that comfortable. They don’t think it’s elegant,” he says. “It doesn’t really respond to their values.”