Albert Kahn (architect)

Albert Kahn (architect)

Infobox Person
name = Albert Kahn

image_size = 150px
caption = Albert Kahn
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birth_date = March 21, 1869
birth_place = Rhaunen, Rhineland-Palatinate Germany
death_date = December 8, 1942
death_place = Detroit, Michigan, USA
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nationality = American
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known_for = Detroit
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occupation = architect
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Albert Kahn (March 21, 1869 in Rhaunen, Rhineland-Palatinate, GermanyDecember 8, 1942 in Detroit, Michigan, USA) was the foremost American industrial architect of his day. He is sometimes called, the "architect of Detroit." Kahn came to Detroit in 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 Memorial in 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 Ford in Kahn's designs. Kahn designed Ford Motor Company's Highland Park plant, begun in 1909 where Ford consolidated production of the Ford Model T and 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",, 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, Ontario built 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 Building in 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 York as 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=,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, Michigan where Ford Motor Company mass produced B-24 Liberator bombers, 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 Bowl in 2006.

Ten Albert Kahn buildings are recognized by official Michigan historical markers. [ [ Michigan Historical Markers] ]
* Battle Creek Post Office
* Dearborn Inn
* Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant in Warren, Michigan
* Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in St. Clair Shore, Michigan
* Fisher Building
* Michigan Alpha Chapter House of Phi Delta Theta‎
* Packard Motor Car Company
* The Detroit News
* The Detroit Free Press
* Willow Run

He is not related to American architect Louis Kahn.

Kahn-designed buildings

*Dexter M. Ferry summer 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 Walker offices, 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 District of Midtown Omaha, Nebraska is the only known work by Kahn in the state.
* [ The Palms Apartments] , 1901-3, on Jefferson Avenue, Detroit
*Belle Isle Aquarium and 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, Youngstown, Ohio
*Kales Building, 1914, 18-story white building at Adams and Park on Grand Circus Park in Detroit built for Kresge Corporation [ [ Profile of S. S. Kresge World Headquarters Building] ."". Retrieved on November 24, 2007.]
*Detroit News building, 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
* [ 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, Warren, Michigan
*Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant, 1941, produced 1/4 of American WWII tanks, continued tank production until 1997
*Willow Run Bomber 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
**Hill Auditorium 1913
**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
**Burton Tower 1936

ee also

*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

External links

* [ Walkerville]
* [ Albert Kahn Associates]
* [ Edsel and Eleanor Ford House]
* [ BuildingsOfDetroit.COM Bio]
* [ > Building Search]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Albert Kahn (Architekt) — Albert Kahns Haus in Detroit Albert Kahn (* 21. März 1869 in Rhaunen, Hunsrück; † 8. Dezember 1942 in Detroit, Michigan, USA) war einer der bedeutendsten amerikanischen Industrie Architekten seiner Zeit. Neben seinen zahlreichen Bauten fü …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Albert Kahn — Several notable people have had the name Albert Kahn: *Albert Kahn (architect) (1869–1942), American architect *Albert Kahn (banker) (1860–1940), French banker, philanthropist and photograph collector *Albert E. Kahn (1912–1979), American… …   Wikipedia

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  • Albert kahn (architecte) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Kahn et Albert Kahn. Albert Kahn (21 mars 1869, Rhaunen, Rhénanie Palatinat 8 décembre 1942, Détroit) est l architecte industriel américain le plus important de son époque, il est parfois surnommé l’architecte de …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Albert Kahn House — Infobox nrhp | name =Albert Kahn House nrhp type = caption = Albert Kahn House, seen from across Mack Ave. location= 208 Mack Ave., Detroit, Michigan USA lat degrees = 42 lat minutes = 20 lat seconds = 54 lat direction = N long degrees = 83 long… …   Wikipedia

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  • Kahn — is a German surname. Kahn is the German word for a small boat. It is also a Germanized form of the Jewish surname Cohen, another variant of which is Cahn. People with the surname Kahn * Albert Kahn (banker) (1860 ndash;1940), French banker,… …   Wikipedia

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  • KAHN, ALBERT — (1869–1942), U.S. industrial architect. Kahn was born in Rhaunen, Germany, and was taken to the United States in 1881. He was trained in Detroit and specialized in factory design. He was engaged by Henry Ford as one of his principal architects.… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

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