Albert Kahn (March 21, 1869 – December 8, 1942) was the foremost American industrial architect of his day. He is sometimes called the architect of Detroit. Biography [edit ]
Kahn was born on March 21, 1869 in
Rhaunen, Kingdom of Prussia. 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.. [1 ]
In 1895, he founded the architectural firm
Albert Kahn Associates. Together with his younger brother [2 ] Julius, 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, designed in 1903, 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 Bois Blanc Island, Henry Ford had a dance hall designed and built by Albert Kahn, which was billed as the second largest in the world in a 1903 account. [4 ] [5 ] [6 ]
Kahn later designed, in 1917, the massive half-mile-long
Ford River Rouge Complex in Dearborn, Michigan. 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 built under direction of the
Hiram Walker family in Walkerville, Ontario, including Willistead Manor. Kahn's interest in historically styled buildings is also seen in his houses in Detroit's Indian Village, the Cranbrook House, the Edsel and Eleanor 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. Between 1917 and 1929, he designed the headquarters for all three major daily newspapers in Detroit.
Kahn's firm's Moscow office built 521 factories between 1930 and 1932.
Kahn also designed many of the classic buildings at the
University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. These include the Burton Memorial Tower, Hill Auditorium, Hatcher Graduate Library, and William L. 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 an important element of America's Arsenal of Democracy. Among others, the office designed the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant, and the Willow Run Bomber Plant, Kahn's last building, located in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where Ford Motor Company mass-produced Consolidated B-24 Liberator bombers. [8 ] [9 ]
In 1941, Kahn received the eighth highest salary and compensation package in the U.S., $486,936, on which he paid 72% in tax.
Albert Kahn worked on more than 1,000 commissions from Henry Ford and hundreds for other automakers. Kahn designed showrooms for Ford Motor Company in several cities including New York, Washington, D.C., and Boston. He died in Detroit on December 8, 1942.
As of 2006, Kahn had approximately 60 buildings listed on the
National Register of Historic Places. Not all of Kahn's works have been preserved. Cass Technical High School in Detroit, designed by Malcomson and Higginbotham and built by Albert Kahn's firm in 1922, was demolished in 2011 after vandals had stripped it of most of its fixtures. The Donovan Building, later occupied by [11 ] Motown Records, abandoned for decades, was demolished as part of Detroit's beautification plan before the 2006 Super Bowl XL.
Twelve Albert Kahn buildings are recognized by official Michigan historical markers:
He is not related to American architect
Louis Kahn. Kahn-designed buildings [edit ]
All buildings are located in Detroit, unless otherwise indicated. Dexter M. Ferry summer residence, 1890 (remodeling of an early 19th century stone farmhouse), Unadilla, New York (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) William Livingstone House, 1892–93 (one of Kahn's first known designs; demolished, 2007) Hiram Walker offices, 1892, Windsor, Ontario Bernard Ginsburg House, 1898 Edward DeMille Campbell House, 1899, Ann Arbor, Michigan Detroit Racquet Club, 1902 (Kahn designed the building, and the Vinton Company, whose offices were just down Woodbridge Street from the club, was awarded the general contract for erecting the facilities) Packard Automotive Plant, 1903 (Kahn's tenth factory built for Packard, but first concrete one) Palms Apartments, 1903 Temple Beth-El, 1903 (Kahn's home synagogue, now the Bonstelle Theatre of Wayne State University) Belle Isle Aquarium and Conservatory, 1904 Brandeis-Millard House, 1904, Gold Coast Historic District, Midtown Omaha, Nebraska Addison Hotel, 1905 Albert Kahn House, 1906 (his personal residence) George N. Pierce Plant, 1906, Buffalo, New York Willistead Manor, 1906, Windsor, Ontario Battle Creek Post Office, 1907, Battle Creek, Michigan (building featuring the concrete construction method used in Kahn's Packard plant) Belle Isle Casino, 1907 Cranbrook House, 1907, Cranbrook Educational Community, Bloomfield Hills, Michigan Highland Park Ford Plant, 1908, Highland Park, Michigan Edwin S. George Building, 1908 Kaufman Footwear Building, 1908, Kitchener, Ontario (renovated into lofts in the early 2000s) Mahoning National Bank, 1909, Youngstown, Ohio Frederick Stearns Building addition, c. 1910 Packard Motor Corporation Building, 1910–11, Philadelphia Merganthaler Linotype Company Buildings, 1910s-1920s, Brooklyn, New York City National Theatre, 1911 Bates Mill Building Number 5, 1914, Lewiston, Maine Kales Building, 1914 Liggett School-Eastern Campus, 1914 (Detroit Waldorf School since 1964) Detroit Athletic Club, 1915 Garden Court Apartments, 1915 Vinton Building, 1916 Russell Industrial Center, 1916 Omaha Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant, 1916, North Omaha, Nebraska The Detroit News Building, 1917 Ford Motor Company New York Headquarters, 1917, New York City Ford River Rouge Complex, 1917–28, Dearborn, Michigan Multiple buildings and Aircraft Maintenance Hangars (Bldg 777&781), 1917–19, Langley Field, Hampton, Virginia Motor Wheel Factory, 1918, Lansing, Michigan (currently being renovated into residential lofts) General Motors Building, 1919 (former GM world headquarters and second largest office building in the world at that time) Fisher Body Plant 21, 1921 First Congregational Church addition, 1921 Phoenix Mill, 1921, Plymouth, Michigan First National Building, 1922 Former Detroit Police Headquarters, 1923 Temple Beth El, 1923 (a new building to replace the 1903 temple, currently occupied by The Community Church of Christ) Walker Power Plant, 1923, Windsor, Ontario Olde Building, 1924 Ford Motor Company Lamp Factory, 1921–25, Flat Rock, Michigan Detroit Free Press Building, 1925 1001 Covington Apartments, 1925 Blake Building, 1926, Jackson, Michigan Ford Hangar, 1926, Lansing Municipal Airport, Lansing, Illinois Packard Motor Car Showroom and Storage Facility, c. 1926, Buffalo, New York Packard Proving Grounds, 1926, Shelby Charter Township, Michigan Packard Showroom, 1926, New York City S. S. Kresge World Headquarters, 1927 Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, 1927, Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan Fisher Building, 1927 Argonaut Building 1928 (General Motors laboratory, now owned by the College for Creative Studies) Brooklyn Printing Plant (New York Times), 1929, Brooklyn, New York City Detroit Times Building, 1929 (demolished, 1978) [13 ] Griswold Building, 1929 Packard Service Building, 1929, New York City Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant, 1930, Richmond, California New Center Building, 1930 (adjacent to the Fisher Building) The Dearborn Inn, 1931, Dearborn, Michigan (world's first airport hotel) Former Congregation Shaarey Zedek Building, 1932 Ford Rotunda, 1934, Dearborn, Michigan (designed for Chicago World's Fair; burned, 1963) Burroughs Adding Machine Plant, 1938, Plymouth, Michigan Dodge Truck Plant, 1938, Warren, Michigan Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant, 1941, Warren, Michigan Willow Run Bomber Plant, 1941 (used by Ford for bombers during the war, then by Kaiser for cars, then by GM for transmissions) Hangars A and B (later renumbered 110 and 111), 1943, NAS Barbers Point, Kapolei, Hawaii Upjohn Tower, Kalamazoo, Michigan (designed for the Upjohn Company; demolished after Pfizer buyout, 2005) BUILDINGS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Campus structures built during his career (source of this list: Schreiber, Penny. “Albert Kahn’s Campus.” The Ann Arbor Observer, January, 2002, pp. 27–33):
Engineering Building (now West Hall), 1904 Psychopathic Hospital (demolished), 1906 Hill Auditorium, 1913 Helen Newberry Residence Hall, 1915 Natural Science Building, 1915 Betsy Barbour Residence Hall, 1920 General Library (now Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library), 1920 William L. Clements Library, 1923 Angell Hall, 1924 Physical Science Building (now Randall Laboratory), 1924 University Hospital (demolished), 1925 Couzens Hall, 1925 East Medical Building (now C. C. Little Building), 1925 Thomas H. Simpson Memorial Institute, 1927 University Museums Building, 1928 Burton Memorial Tower, 1936 Neuropsychiatric Institute (demolished), 1938
Greek Organization Buildings:
See also [edit ] References [edit ] ^ Borth, Christy. Masters of Mass Production, pp. 97-100, Bobbs-Merrill Co., Indianapolis, IN, 1945. ^ "About Kahn-What". albertkahn.com . Retrieved . October 29, 2010 ^ Jenny Nolan (August 25, 1999). "Bob-Lo, island of the white wood". (detnews.com) The Detroit News . Retrieved . November 24, 2007 ^ Borth, Christy. Masters of Mass Production, pp. 107-8, Bobbs-Merrill Co., Indianapolis, IN, 1945. ^ Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, pp. 22, Random House, New York, NY, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4. ^ "Industry's Architect". . June 29, 1942 Time . Retrieved . 2008-04-04 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. ^ Borth, Christy. Masters of Mass Production, pp. 109-10, 120-28, Bobbs-Merrill Co., Indianapolis, IN, 1945. ^ Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, pp. 51-2, 96-8, 148, 200, 227-9, 242, Random House, New York, NY, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4. ^ "Compensation and the I.R.S.: It's not the 'Good' Old Days". . 2010-12-01 New York Times . Retrieved . 2014-01-21 ^ Cass Tech High School (old). HistoricDetroit. Retrieved on November 20, 2014. ^ Michigan Historical Markers ^ "Detroit Times Building". Buildings of Detroit. Archived from the original on 26 October 2010 . Retrieved . October 29, 2010 Bibliography [edit ] Further reading [edit ] Bridenstine, James (1989). Edsel and Eleanor Ford House. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-2161-5. Fogelman, Randall (2004). Detroit's New Center. Arcadia. ISBN 0-7385-3271-1. Lewis, David L. "Ford and Kahn" Michigan History 1980 64(5): 17-28. Ford commissioned architect Albert Kahn to design factories Matuz, Roger (2002). Albert Kahn, Builder of Detroit. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8143-2956-6. Sobocinski, Melanie Grunow (2005). Detroit and Rome: building on the past. Regents of the University of Michigan. ISBN 0-933691-09-2. Melnikova-Raich, Sonia (2010). "The Soviet Problem with Two 'Unknowns': How an American Architect and a Soviet Negotiator Jump-Started the Industrialization of Russia, Part I: Albert Kahn". IA, The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology 36 (2): 57–80. ISSN 0160-1040. JSTOR 41933723. ( abstract) External links [edit ]