Albert Kahn

From Academic Kids

See Albert Kahn (banker) for the French banker.

Albert Kahn (March_21, 1869 - December_8, 1942) was the foremost American industrial architect of his day. Kahn came to Detroit in 1880 at the age of 11 from Germany. 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.

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. 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.

Missing image
Kahn's Conservatory on Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan

Kahn's firm's Moscow office built 521 factories between 1930 and 1932.

Kahn also designed the landmark 28-story Art Deco Fisher Building in Detroit, long considered the most beautiful element of the Detroit skyline. In 1928, the Fisher building was honored by the Architecture League of New York as the year's most beautiful commercial structure.

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.

He is not related to American architect Louis Kahn.

Kahn-designed buildings

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Albert Kahn's General Motors Building (now Cadillac Place, 3044 West Grand Boulevard, Detroit, MI

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