Albert Kahn (architect)
March 21, 1869|
Rhaunen, Kingdom of Prussia (Germany)
|Died||December 8, 1942
Detroit, Michigan, USA
|Relatives||Julius Kahn, brother
Albert E. Kahn, nephew
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. In 1943, the Franklin Institute awarded him the Frank P. Brown Medal posthumously.
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..
In 1895, he founded the architectural firm Albert Kahn Associates. Together with his younger brother 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.
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.
On May 8, 1929, through an agreement signed with Kahn by President of Amtorg Saul G. Bron, the Soviet government contracted the Albert Kahn firm to design the Stalingrad Tractor Plant, the first tractor plant in the USSR. On January 9, 1930, a second contract with Kahn was signed for his firm to become consulting architects for all industrial construction in the Soviet Union. Under these contracts, during 1929–1932, Kahn’s firm, at its headquarters in Detroit and the especially created design bureau in Moscow, Gosproektstroi, headed by Albert Kahn’s younger brother, Moritz Kahn, trained over 4,000 Soviet architects and engineers and designed over 500 plants and factories under the First Five-Year Plan.
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.
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 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:
- Battle Creek Post Office
- The Dearborn Inn
- Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant
- Detroit Free Press Building
- The Detroit News Building
- Edsel and Eleanor Ford House
- Fisher Building
- Ford Motor Company Lamp Factory
- Highland Park Ford Plant
- Packard Automotive Plant
- Packard Proving Grounds
- Willow Run
He is not related to American architect Louis Kahn.
- 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
- The Flint Journal Building, 1924, Flint, Michigan
- 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)
- 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:
- Sigma Phi House (1900), 426 North Ingalls Street (demolished)
- Delta Upsilon House (1903), 1331 Hill Street
- Triangle House (1905–06), 1501 Washtenaw Avenue
- Delta Gamma House (1912), 1205 Hill Street
- Psi Upsilon House (1924), 1000 Hill Street
- Kahn System, the industrial construction technique developed by Julius Kahn
- Architecture of metropolitan Detroit
- Joseph Nathaniel French
- Albert Kahn papers "he also received the Frank P. Brown medal posthumously"
- Borth, Christy. Masters of Mass Production, pp. 97-100, Bobbs-Merrill Co., Indianapolis, IN, 1945.
- "About Kahn-What". albertkahn.com. Retrieved October 29, 2010.
- Ferry 1970, p. 11.
- Jenny Nolan (August 25, 1999). "Bob-Lo, island of the white wood". The Detroit News (detnews.com). 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.
- 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): 59–73. ISSN 0160-1040. JSTOR 41933723.
- "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.
- 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". New York Times. 2010-12-01. (Business Day section). 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.
- Bridenstine, James (1989). Edsel and Eleanor Ford House. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-2161-5.
- Ferry, W. Hawkins (1970). The Legacy of Albert Kahn. Detroit: Wayne State University Press. ISBN 0-8143-1889-4.
- 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.; Melnikova-Raich, Sonia (2011). "The Soviet Problem with Two 'Unknowns': How an American Architect and a Soviet Negotiator Jump-Started the Industrialization of Russia, Part II: Saul Bron". IA, The Journal of the Society for Industrial Archeology 37 (1/2): 5–28. ISSN 0160-1040. JSTOR 23757906. (abstract)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Albert Kahn.|
- Albert Kahn papers from the Smithsonian Archives of American Art
- Albert Kahn - 400 Buildings in Metro Detroit
- Historic Detroit — 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 at Find a Grave
- Albert Kahn on LocalWiki