- Albert Kahn (architect)
name = Albert Kahn
image_size = 150px
caption = Albert Kahn
March 21, 1869
Rhaunen, Rhineland-Palatinate Germany
December 8, 1942
Detroit, Michigan, USA
nationality = American
Albert Kahn (
March 21, 1869in Rhaunen, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany– December 8, 1942in Detroit, Michigan, USA) was the foremost American industrial architectof his day. He is sometimes called, the "architect of Detroit." Kahn came to Detroitin 1880 at the age of 11. His father Joseph was trained as a rabbi. His mother Rosalie had a talent for the visual arts and music. As a teenager he got a job at the architectural firm of Mason and Rice. Kahn won a year's scholarship to study abroad in Europe, where he toured with another young architecture student, Henry Bacon, who would later design the Lincoln Memorialin Washington, D.C.
The architectural firm Albert Kahn Associates was founded in 1895. He developed a new style of construction where reinforced concrete replaced wood in factory walls, roofs, and supports. This gave better fire protection and allowed large volumes of unobstructed interior.
Packard Motor Car Company's factory built in 1907 was the first development of this principle.
The success of the Packard plant interested
Henry Fordin Kahn's designs. Kahn designed Ford Motor Company's Highland Park plant, begun in 1909 where Ford consolidated production of the Ford Model Tand perfected the assembly line. On Bob-Lo Island, Henry Ford had a dance hall designed and built by Albert Kahn, which in 1903 was billed as the world's second largest. ["Bob-Lo, island of the white wood", http://forums.detnews.com/history/story/index.cfm?category=business&id=87, Jenny Nolan, "The Detroit News", accessed November 24, 2007]
Kahn later designed, in 1917, the massive half-mile-long Ford
River Rouge Plant. The Rouge grew into the largest manufacturing complex in the U.S., with a force that peaked at 120,000 workers. According to the company website, "By 1938, Kahn's firm was responsible for 20 percent of all architect-designed factories in the U.S."
Kahn was responsible for many of the buildings and houses in
Walkerville, Ontariobuilt under direction of Walker family including Willistead Manor. Kahn's interest in historically styled buildings is also seen in his houses in Indian Village, Detroit, Cranbrook House, the Edsel Ford House and the Dearborn Inn, the world's first airport hotel.
Kahn also designed the landmark 28-story
Art Deco Fisher Buildingin Detroit, considered one of the most beautiful elements of the Detroit skyline. In 1928, the Fisher building was honored by the Architectural League of New Yorkas the year's most beautiful commercial structure.
Kahn's firm's Moscow office built 521 factories between 1930 and 1932. [cite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Industry's Architect. |url=http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,795936,00.html |quote=In 1928 the Soviet Government, after combing the U.S. for a man who could furnish the building brains for Russia's industrialization, offered the job to Kahn. Twenty-five Kahn engineers and architects went to Moscow. They had to start from scratch. |publisher=
Time (magazine)|date= June 29, 1942|accessdate=2008-04-04 ]
Kahn also designed many of the classic buildings at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. These include the Burton Tower, Hill Auditorium, the Hatcher Graduate Library, and Clements Library.
A frequent collaborator with Kahn was architectural sculptor
Corrado Parducci. In all Parducci worked on about 50 Kahn commissions including banks, office buildings, newspaper buildings, mausoleums, hospitals and private residences.
Kahn's firm designed a large number of the army airfield and naval bases for the United States government during
World War I. By World War II, Kahn's 600-person office was involved in making Detroit the "Arsenal of Democracy" including designing the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant, and the Willow Run Bomber Plant in Ypsilanti, Michiganwhere Ford Motor Company mass produced B-24 Liberatorbombers, Kahn's last building. Albert Kahn worked on more than 1,000 commissions from Henry Ford and hundreds for other automakers.
As of 2006, Kahn had around 60 buildings listed on the
National Register of Historic Places. Not all of Kahn's works have been preserved. The Donovan Building, later occupied by Motown Records, abandoned for decades, was demolished as part of Detroit's beautification plan before the Super Bowlin 2006.
Ten Albert Kahn buildings are recognized by official Michigan historical markers. [ [http://www.michmarkers.com/Frameset.htm Michigan Historical Markers] ]
* Battle Creek Post Office
Detroit Arsenal Tank Plantin Warren, Michigan
Edsel & Eleanor FordHouse in St. Clair Shore, Michigan
Michigan Alpha Chapter House of Phi Delta Theta
Packard Motor Car Company
The Detroit News
Detroit Free Press
He is not related to American architect
Dexter M. Ferrysummer residence in Unadilla Center, New York; early 19th century stone farmhouse remodeled in 1890. Extant today. Known as Milfer Farm, held by Ferry heirs today. Kahn also designed the "Honeymoon Cottage" on the estate, one of the earliest prefabricated houses built.
Hiram Walkeroffices, 1892, in Windsor, Ontario
*Detroit Racquet Club, 1902 (Kahn designed but was not allowed membership at the time, being Jewish)
*Temple Beth El, 1903, Kahn's home synagogue, now the Bonstelle Theatre of
Wayne State University
Brandeis-Millard House, 1904, located in the Country Club Historic Districtof Midtown Omaha, Nebraskais the only known work by Kahn in the state.
* [http://www.ci.detroit.mi.us/historic/districts/palms.pdf The Palms Apartments] , 1901-3, on Jefferson Avenue, Detroit
Belle Isle Aquariumand Conservatory, 1904, and Casino, 1907 on Belle Isle, Detroit
Albert Kahn House, 1906, Detroit, Michigan(his personal residence)
*George N. Pierce Plant, 1906, in
Buffalo, New York
Willistead Manor, 1906, home of the son of Hiram Walker
*Battle Creek Post Office, 1907, concrete construction method used again later that year in Kahn's Packard plant
*Packard Plant, 1907, Kahn's tenth factory for Packard but first concrete one
*Cranbrook House, 1907, at
Cranbrook Educational Community
Highland Park Ford Plant, 1908, Highland Park, Michigan
*Kaufman Footwear Building, 1908, Kitchener Ontario, recently renovated into lofts
*Mahoning National Bank, 1909,
Kales Building, 1914, 18-story white building at Adams and Park on Grand Circus Park in Detroit built for Kresge Corporation[ [http://detroit1701.org/Kresge%20World%20Headquarters.html Profile of S. S. Kresge World Headquarters Building] ."Detroit1701.org". Retrieved on November 24, 2007.]
Detroit Newsbuilding, 1917
*Motor Wheel Factory,
Lansing, Michigan, 1918. Currently being renovated into residential lofts.
General Motors Building, 1919, largest office building in the world at that time, GM world headquarters, now State of Michigan offices
First National Building, Detroit, 1922
*Detroit Police Headquarters, 1923
*Temple Beth El, 1923 (a different building than the 1903 version), now the Lighthouse Cathedral.
*Walker Power Plant, 1923, in Windsor
Ford Motor Company Lamp Factory, 1921-1925, in Flat Rock, Michigan
Detroit Free Press Building, 1925
S. S. Kresge World Headquarters, 1927, 5-1/2 story horizontally massed Art Deco structure
* [http://fordhouse.org/ Edsel and Eleanor Ford House] , 1927,
Henry Ford's son's home, built as an English manor house in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan.
Fisher Building, 1927, major skyscraper of Detroit for decades
New Center Building, 1930, office building in the New Center
*River Rouge Glass Plant, 1930
*Dearborn Inn, 1931, world's first airport hotel, built and decorated in the Georgian style
*Ford Rotunda, designed for Chicago World's Fair, 1934 (burned, 1963)
*Dodge Truck Plant, 1938,
Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant, 1941, produced 1/4 of American WWII tanks, continued tank production until 1997
Willow RunBomber Plant, 1941, used by Ford for bombers during the war, then by Kaiser for cars, then by GM for transmissions
Ford Assembly Building, California
*Buildings at the
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor:
Michigan Alpha Chapter House of Phi Delta Theta 1903
**Engineering Building (now called West Hall, with George Mason) 1904
**Natural Science Building 1913
**Hatcher Graduate Library 1920
**Clements Library 1923
**Angell Hall 1924
**Couzens Hall 1925
**University Hospital (now destroyed) 1925
**Simpson Institute for Medical Research 1927
Architecture of metropolitan Detroit
Joseph Nathaniel French
References and further reading
*Cite book|author=Bridenstine, James|title=Edsel and Eleanor Ford House|year=1989|publisher=Wayne State University Press|id=ISBN 0814321615
*Cite book|author=Fogelman, Randall|title=Detroit's New Center |year=2004|publisher=Arcadia|id=ISBN 0738532711
* Lewis, David L. "Ford and Kahn" "Michigan History" 1980 64(5): 17-28. Ford commissioned architect Albert Kahn to design factories
*Cite book|author=Matuz, Roger|title=Albert Kahn, Architect of Detroit|publisher=Wayne State University Press|year= 2007|id=ISBN 9780814329566
*Cite book | author=Sobocinski, Melanie Grunow | title= Detroit and Rome: building on the past | publisher=Regents of the University of Michigan| year=2005 | id=ISBN 0933691092
* [http://www.walkervilletimes.com/architects.htm Walkerville]
* [http://www.albertkahn.com/cmpny_history.cfm Albert Kahn Associates]
* [http://www.fordhouse.org/ Edsel and Eleanor Ford House]
* [http://www.buildingsofdetroit.com/kahn.php BuildingsOfDetroit.COM Bio]
* [http://www.preservedetroit.com/search.php PreserveDetroit.com > Building Search]
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