Albert Kahn (architect)
March 21, 1869|
Rhaunen, Kingdom of Prussia, (Germany)
|Died||December 8, 1942
Detroit, Michigan, USA
|Relatives||Albert E. Kahn, nephew|
Albert Kahn (March 21, 1869 in Rhaunen, Kingdom of Prussia (Germany) – December 8, 1942 in Detroit, Michigan, USA) was the foremost American industrial architect of his day. He is sometimes called the architect of Detroit.
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.
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 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 Bob-Lo 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.
Kahn later designed, in 1917, the massive half-mile-long Ford River Rouge Plant 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 in Walkerville, Ontario built under direction of the Hiram 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. 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, the 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 B-24 Liberator bombers. 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, MA.
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. 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.
- Battle Creek Post Office
- The Dearborn Inn
- Belle Isle Conservatory
- Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant in Warren, Michigan
- Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan
- Fisher Building
- Delta Upsilon Fraternity, 1331 Hill St., Ann Arbor
- Packard Motor Car Company factory
- 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.
- Detroit Athletic Club (1915), on Madison Avenue, Detroit
- William Livingstone House (1892–93), in Brush Park, Detroit. The French Renaissance house was demolished on September 15, 2007. The Livingstone house in Detroit's Brush Park was Kahn's first known design, created while he was employed by the Detroit architect George Mason, who is the architect of record. Livingstone founded the Dime Savings Bank. The William Livingstone House was commemorated in a painting by Lowell Bioleau entitled Open House which was unveiled the day of its demolition.
- Hiram Walker offices, 1892, in Windsor, Ontario
- Bernard Ginsburg House, 1898
- Detroit Racquet Club, 1902 (Kahn designed but was not allowed membership at the time, being Jewish) 626 Woodbridge Street, Detroit
- Temple Beth El, 1903, Kahn's home synagogue, now the Bonstelle Theatre of Wayne State University
- Brandeis-Millard House, 1904, located in the Gold Coast Historic District of Midtown Omaha, Nebraska.
- Packard Automotive Plant, 1903, Kahn's tenth factory for Packard but first concrete one
- Palms Apartments, 1903, 1001 East Jefferson Avenue, Detroit
- Belle Isle Aquarium and Conservatory, 1904, and Casino, 1907 on Belle Isle, Detroit
- Albert Kahn House, 1906, Brush Park, Detroit, Michigan (his personal residence)
- Addison Hotel, 1905
- Frederick Stearns Building addition, 1906
- George N. Pierce Plant, 1906, in Buffalo, New York
- Willistead Manor, 1906, home of the son of Hiram Walker in Windsor, Ontario
- Battle Creek Post Office, 1907, concrete construction method used in Kahn's Packard plant
- Cranbrook House, 1907, at Cranbrook Educational Community
- Highland Park Ford Plant, 1908, Highland Park, Michigan
- Edwin S. George Building, 1908
- Kaufman Footwear Building, 1908, Kitchener, Ontario, recently[when?] renovated into lofts
- Mahoning National Bank, 1909, Youngstown, Ohio
- Packard Motor Corporation Building, 1910-1911, Philadelphia
- National Theatre, 1911, 118 Monroe Street, Detroit
- Bates Mill Building Number 5, 1914, in Lewiston, Maine
- Kales Building, 1914, 18-story white building at Adams and Park on Grand Circus Park in Detroit built for S. S. Kresge Company
- Liggett School-Eastern Campus, 1914, 2555 Burns, Detroit; Detroit Waldorf School since 1964
- Garden Court Apartments, 1915, 2900 East Jefferson Avenue, Detroit
- Vinton Building, 1916
- Russell Industrial Center, 1916
- Omaha Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant, 1916, Omaha
- Detroit News Building, 1917
- NY Headquarters, Ford Motor Company, 1917, in New York, New York, now home of Sean John and Bad Boy Worldwide
- Multiple buildings and Aircraft Maintenance Hangars (Bldg 777&781 on Langley AFB, VA), 1917-1919.
- 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
- Fisher Body Plant 21, 1921
- First Congregational Church addition, 1921
- Phoenix Mill, 1921
- First National Building, Detroit, 1922
- Detroit Police Headquarters, 1923
- Temple Beth El, 1923 (a new building to replace the 1903 temple), currently Citadel of Faith Church
- Walker Power Plant, 1923, in Windsor, Ontario
- Ford Motor Company Lamp Factory, 1921–1925, in Flat Rock, Michigan
- Detroit Free Press Building, 1925
- 1001 Covington Apartments, 1925, Detroit
- Ford Hangar at The Lansing Municipal Airport, Lansing, Illinois (South Suburban Chicago Area), 1926
- S. S. Kresge World Headquarters, 1927, 5½ story horizontally massed Art Deco structure
- Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, 1927, home of Henry Ford's son, built as an English manor house in Grosse Pointe Shores, Michigan.
- Fisher Building, 1927, skyscraper in Detroit's New Center district
- Argonaut Building 1928, General Motors laboratory, now owned by the College for Creative Studies, Detroit
- Detroit Times Building, 1929 (Demolished, 1978)
- Griswold Building, 1929, 1214 Griswold Street, Detroit
- New Center Building, 1930, 7430 Second Avenue, adjacent to the Fisher Building in Detroit's New Center district
- River Rouge Glass Plant, 1930
- The Dearborn Inn 1931, world's first airport hotel, built and decorated in the Georgian style
- Congregation Shaarey Zedek 1932, 2900 West Chicago Boulevard, Detroit
- Ford Rotunda, designed for Chicago World's Fair, 1934 (burned, 1963)
- Dodge Truck Plant, 1938, Warren, Michigan
- Burroughs Adding Machine Plant, 1938, Plymouth, Michigan
- Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant, 1941, produced 1/4 of American World War II tanks, continued tank production until 1997, Warren, Michigan
- Upjohn Tower designed for the Upjohn Company of Kalamazoo, Michigan, used both for production and administration. Demolished in 2005 after Pfizer buyout.
- 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
- Blake Building, Jackson Michigan 1926
BUILDINGS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
Campus Buildings 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:
- Sigma Phi House (1900), 426 North Ingalls Street (demolished)
- Delta Upsilon House (1903), 1331 Hill Street
- Collegiate Sorosis House (1905–06), 1501 Washtenaw Avenue
- Delta Gamma House (1912), 1205 Hill Street
- Psi Upsilon House (1924), 1000 Hill Street
See also 
- "About Kahn-What". albertkahn.com. Retrieved October 29, 2010.
- Jenny Nolan (August 25, 1999). "Bob-Lo, island of the white wood". The Detroit News (detnews.com). Retrieved November 24, 2007.
- "Industry's Architect". Time. June 29, 1942. 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."
- Michigan Historical Markers
- Open House.
- Profile of S. S. Kresge World Headquarters Building.Detroit1701.org. Retrieved on November 24, 2007.
- "Detroit Times Building". Buildings of Detroit. Archived from the original on 26 October 2010. Retrieved October 29, 2010.
References and further reading 
- 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.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Albert Kahn|
- Albert Kahn papers 1896–2008 Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.
- Albert Kahn Associates
- Edsel and Eleanor Ford House
- BuildingsOfDetroit.COM Bio
- PreserveDetroit.com > Building Search
- Albert Kahn (architect) at Find a Grave