His Automobile Factory Architecture Set the Standard For Those Who Followed

March 21, 1869

Albert Kahn, who helped create a number of key transportation-oriented facilities and is widely regarded as the “father of modern factory design,” was born in Rhaunen in the Kingdom of Prussia (now Germany). When Kahn was 11, he and his family immigrated to the United States and settled in Detroit. Kahn worked at an architectural firm during his teenage years, and this experience launched him on what became a distinguished career.

In 1895, Kahn established his own architectural firm. His approach to the construction of buildings entailed eschewing the traditional timber-framed structures in favor of facilities made of reinforced concrete. This preferred approach ensured greater fire protection for buildings and much more unobstructed space inside.

Kahn used that style of architecture in 1903 when he designed and built the Packard Motor Car Company’s plant in Detroit. This innovative achievement in architectural design caught the attention of Henry Ford. Kahn subsequently designed the Ford Motor Company’s famous Highland Park plant, where Ford focused on producing the Model T and refining the automotive assembly line.

Kahn also designed the Ford River Rouge Plant in Dearborn, Michigan. This massive plant, which measures 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) in width and one mile (1.6 kilometers) in length, was the world’s largest manufacturing complex at the time of its completion in 1928. At one point, the facility housed a workforce of 120,000 people.

Kahn also worked on numerous other projects for Henry Ford – including the design of showrooms for the Ford Motor Company in such cities as New York City, Boston, and Washington, D.C. – and hundreds of requests from other automakers. Kahn was likewise involved in designing structures more strongly linked with other transportation modes. One of these structures was the world’s first airport hotel, the Dearborn Inn. In addition, his firm designed several U.S. airfield and naval bases during World War II. Kahn died in Detroit in 1942 at the age of 73.

For more information on Albert Kahn, please check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Kahn_(architect) and https://www.albertkahn.com/albert-kahn-the-man.

(Photo credit: By Source, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=48361137).

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