Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Kahn, Albert

Albert Kahn is one of Detroit’s best-known architects. Born in Germany, his family moved to Detroit in 1880.  Kahn had a versatile career, but is best known for revolutionizing industrial design, first with the use of reinforced concrete to open up space and reduce fire risk for Packard Motors in 1905, then with functional and economical designs for the Ford Motor Company Rouge Complex in the 1920s, such as the steel building frame.

Kahn’s industrial architecture set the stage for the worldwide modernist movement elevating practical and functional concerns over ornamental details. Kahn’s well-lit and efficient spaces offered the best conditions for mass production. His designs for factories showed an ease with matters of operation and organization.  One of his most signature buildings, The Fisher Building, won the Architectural League’s Silver Medal in 1928.

Kahn was a leader in his profession, a frequent lecturer, founding craftsman of the Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts in 1906, and a member of the Detroit Arts Commission created in 1918.

 


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