Albert Kahn (architect)

Albert Kahn ( born March 21, 1869 in Rhaunen; † December 8, 1942 in Detroit ) was a German-born American architect, who emerged as one of the most important industrial designers of his time. Besides his numerous buildings for the automotive industry in Detroit and Michigan, he was later active worldwide.


The Kahn family has emigrated 1880, when Albert was just 11 years old, in the United States. His father Joseph was a rabbi in Rhaunen, his mother Rosalie was gifted musically and artistically. Even as an adolescent he worked 1885-1895 in the architectural firm Mason & Rice in Detroit, but completed no real training. In 1891 he won a traveling scholarship of the magazine American Architect and Building News for a year-long study trip to Europe together with the architect Henry Bacon, who later built the Lincoln Memorial.


1895 Kahn founded the firm Albert Kahn Associates in partnership with George W. Nettleton and Alexander B. Trowbridge, which he led from 1902 alone, and joined his brothers Julius and Moritz. He brought in the American industrial one which was further developed by Julius Kahn Armierbetonverfahren that the industrial plants safer, especially fireproof, made. A first major contract with the new construction method was realized by him in 1903-04 for the Packard Motor Car Company. Here, Henry Ford became aware of him.

For Kahn's architecture oriented towards Europe historicizing style is characteristic. His buildings in Michigan made ​​him known all over the world. So he built 1929-1932 with his Moscow office and 521 factories in the former Soviet Union, including some automotive and aircraft plants, beginning with the 1929-30 Felix Dzerzhinsky tractor factory in Stalingrad and Chelyabinsk Tractor Plant in Chelyabinsk. In addition, Kahn was also active in Brazil, Sweden, France, China, Japan and Australia.

During the Second World War, he turned and his 600 - person office of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's plan to create an arsenal for democracy available and built numerous airports and naval bases.

But he did not only industrial and military buildings but also many civilian buildings. Alone for the University of Michigan, he designed 1903-1938 about 23 buildings. 2006 were listed on the U.S. list of important historical places about 60 of his buildings.

The company, founded by Kahn practiced today with a global approach and offices in Detroit, Birmingham ( Alabama), and São Paulo.