The Albert Kahn Legacy Foundation Honor
The Albert Kahn Legacy Foundation Educate
The Albert Kahn Legacy Foundation Preserve
The Albert Kahn Legacy Foundation
Albert Kahn: Innovation and Influence on 20th Century Architecture
The Albert Kahn Legacy Foundation is pleased to collaborate with the Detroit Historical Society to present “Albert Kahn: Innovation and Influence on 20th Century Architecture,” an exhibit celebrating the work and legacy of Detroit’s most important architect of the first half of the 20th century. Kahn’s work enabled the creation of America’s modern industrial enterprises and created iconic office and civic buildings, homes and religious structures. This exhibit tells the story of historically significant architecture and design that has stood the test of time in Detroit, in Michigan and around the world and inspired the streamlined modernist designs that followed.Learn More
About the Foundation
The Albert Kahn Legacy Foundation is a non-profit organization that was incorporated on May 14, 2020, to celebrate and preserve the legacy of Albert Kahn, often described as the foremost American industrial architect of the 20th century. His ideas and impact are still felt today.
The Foundation collects, preserves, maintains, displays, and makes available to the public materials related to the life and work of Albert Kahn, so that researchers, students, historians and the general public will know and appreciate how his designs and ideas changed industrial America and helped make Detroit the manufacturing capital of the United States during the first half of the 20th century.
Above: A blueprint from Kahn’s 1930s Book of Standards, showing a typical cross section design employed by the firm in many industrial buildings. To the left is an image of the 1922 General Motors Building, Detroit, MI., (2011); To the right is a box of architectural tools typically used to create curves in drawings, n.d. ; (Michael G. Smith photos).
Creator of the Modern Age
Learn More About Albert Kahn
Albert Kahn was among the most famous and prolific industrial architects of the twentieth century. Kahn was the first architect in Detroit and one of the first in America to offer in-house engineering services. This was an important innovation that facilitated the design of the more complex industrial and commercial structures required in the 20th century.
Born to a Jewish family in Germany in 1869, Albert Kahn was the eldest of eight children. At the age of 12, Albert emigrated to Detroit with his family and took on odd jobs to help provide or them. His natural talent for drawing, hardworking nature, and humility led him to become an inspiration for his family, colleagues, and community.
Above, and clockwise from upper left: Albert Kahn (left) and Kahn employee John Schurman inspecting a Victory Sash, 1942. This was a new window design created to save steel during World War II (Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library photo); Fisher Building designed by Albert Kahn, Architects and Engineers and opened in 1928, 2011 (Michael G. Smith photo); The Packard Motor Car Company, Detroit, 1910 (Library of Congress); Albert Kahn Architect and Ernest Wilby Associate, architectural drawing for the front elevation of Hill Memorial Hall (Hill Auditorium), drawn by Wirt C. Rowland and Ernest Wilby, October 5, 1911; Chrysler Corporation’s Dodge Half-Ton Truck Plant Export Building, circa 1938 (Albert Kahn Associates photo). Left: Portrait of Albert Kahn (Albert Kahn Associates photo).