Lucien Lagrange Expands International Portfolio with Projects in Romania and Italy

Cluj-Napoca, Romania—Chicago-based Lucien Lagrange Architects recently broke ground on its latest European venture, Sigma Tower, a 26-story, mixed-use tower located in one of Romania’s largest cities, Cluj-Napoca.Developed by S.C. Sigma Tower S.R.L., Sigma Tower will include 100 condominiums, a five-star, 202-key hotel, retail and approximately 130,000 sq. ft. of office space.  Amenities will include fitness facilities, a swimming pool, spa, meeting spaces, a ballroom and two levels of parking.Additionally, because the family-owned developer also owns the local Romanian soccer team, the tower is situated such that the soccer stadium is visible from many of the site’s public spaces, Heather Weed, principal, Lucien Lagrange Architects, tells MHN.Though Sigma Tower’s design began as traditional, blending with the local architecture, “the developer saw it and said we were marketing to a younger clientele, an up-and-coming class of younger professionals that have a good bit of disposable income and their interest is more modern and contemporary,” Weed says. As a result, Lucien Lagrange designed a sleek, diaphanous glass tower.Lucien Lagrange is also working in Milan, Italy, where the firm is working on Hines Italy’s Porta Nuova Isola (pictured), a 34.3-acre mixed-use community that includes 27 residences, including affordable apartments, luxury condominiums, duplex penthouses and townhomes, in addition to retail space. This project’s design “responds to the way people live in Milan and what’s important to them,” Weed, who was the senior designer on Porta Nuova Isola, notes, explaining that the north side of the site, which faces an older neighborhood, is more traditional, with stucco, sloped roofs, punched windows and earthy colors. The south side faces the new development and is more modern.Porta Nuova Isola is being designed for a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold rating and is expected to exceed Milan’s new green-design code by 30 percent. Green features will include high-efficiency mechanical systems, photovoltaic panels on the roof—which is part of the new code requirement in Milan—and automated lighting controls. In addition, terraces and brise soleils will help to reduce heat gain and a green roof atop a parking structure will serve to reduce the heat island effect.
Both projects are slated for delivery in early 2012. Residences at both projects are priced at approximately $1,500 per sq. ft.Despite the global economic downturn, Weed does not believe these two projects will be affected. “They are both very high-end specialty products, and there is no competition. In Milan, there has not been much new construction since the ‘50s. The scale and the amenities—there’s just nothing like them, so they are able to be the high-end products in town. While the economy may be affecting housing in general there, the developers feel they can still support this, being there is no competition.”