Legendary Detroit architect Albert Kahn was born on March 21, 1869 in Rhaunen, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. 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 was billed as the second largest in the world in a 1903 account…
Ten Albert Kahn designed buildings are recognized with Michigan historical markers:
- Battle Creek Post Office
- The Dearborn Inn
- 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
Remembering Michigan’s legendary architect Albert Kahn, Michigan In Pictures, December 8, 2011.
Albert Kahn (March 21, 1869 – Dec. 8, 1942), HistoricDetroit.org