Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Albert Kahn |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||21 March 1869 |
|Died: ||8 December 1942 |
|Bio Notes: ||Albert Kahn was born in Rhuanen, Germany on 21 March 1869, the eldest son of Rabbi Joseph Kahn and his wife Rosalie. He was educated at Echternach. His family emigrated first to Luxembourg and secondly to Detroit in 1881. There he was apprenticed to Mason & Rice at the age of fifteen in 1884. A scholarship from the American Architect and Building News enabled him to undertake a European tour from which he returned to the same firm as chief draughtsman. In 1895 he declined an offer from Louis Sullivan and established his own practice with George W Nettleton and Alexander B Trowbridge, both from Mason & Rice's office. The partnership of Nettleton, Kahn & Trowbridge proved brief as Nettleton died in 1900 and Trowbridge left to teach architecture at Cornell University. During that period Kahn financed the education of his brother Julius (born 1874) at the University of Michigan, where he graduated in engineering in 1896, thereafter seeking experience in Japan. |
After the dissolution of Nettleton, Kahn & Trowbridge, Kahn was briefly in partnership with his former employer George D Mason until 1902, and then with Ernest Wilby as Albert Kahn, Ernest Wilby a partnership which lasted until 1918 when the practice became Albert Kahn Incorporated Architects and Engineers. It was however Julius who revolutionised the practice. He joined it and took out a patent for the Kahn System of Reinforced Concrete which was managed by him as The Trussed Concrete Steel Company of Detroit, subsequently abridged to The Truscon Steel Company, and relocated at Youngstown, Ohio in 1914 to be nearer the mining of the raw material. The system was first used at the Engineering Building of the University of Michigan in 1903, quickly followed by the Packard Motor Car Company Building at Detroit which established the practice's reputation for industrial and particularly automotive buildings not just in the USA but in the UK where the third Kahn brother, Moritz, took care of the business side of the practice from an office in London between 1905 and 1917 and as far afield as Japan and Russia where Kahn maintained a large branch office in the years 1929-32. For smaller overseas commissions Kahn's practice typically supplied a set of drawings for a fee, as was the case with their Scottish buildings.
The practice did not consist exclusively of concrete frame industrial structures: Kahn was an extremely accomplished classicist designing new classical and Renaissance public and commercial buildings of a quality which challenged comparison with the work of McKim Mead & White: and he could turn his hand to American colonial and English Tudor as the occasion required. In the 1930s his public and commercial architecture became more modern or art deco of the stepped back type.
Kahn died at Detroit on 8 December 1942, having designed more than 2,000 factory buildings; his most important clients were Packard, Ford, General Motors, the Chrysler Corporation, the Glen L Martin Aircraft Co., W K Kellogg, the Detroit News and the New York Times. The practice was continued by his son Louis, born 1885: after his death in 1945 the practice continued under the same name with non-family members.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|Detroit, Michigan, United States of America||Business||1895||1942|| |
|Moscow, Russia||Business||1929||1932|| |
Employment and Training
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|Bucci, Federigo||1991||Albert Kahn, architect of Ford|| ||Princeton Architectural Press. Published 1991 (Itlaian) and 1993 (English)|| |
|Grove Dictionary of Art|| ||Grove Dictionary of Art|| || || |
|Hildebrand, Brandt||1974||Designing for Industry: Architecture of Albert Kahn|| || || |
|Kahn, Albert||1921||Albert Kahn, architect, Detroit, Michigan|| ||Architectural Catalog Co|| |
|Kahn, Moritz||1917||The Design and Construction of Industrial Buildings|| ||London: Technical Journals|| |