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The Albert Kahn Legacy Foundation
A Virtual Talk with Dale Carlson
Albert Kahn: Unintended Consequences
From 1929 to 1932 Albert Kahn, Inc. oversaw the design and construction of over 500 factories in Soviet Russia. Many of these plants were converted to munitions production during World War II. The Chrysler Tank Arsenal and Willow Run Bomber Plant notwithstanding, without Kahn’s unintended contributions to the Russian war effort, there is arguably no decisive Allied victory over the Third Reich, and no complete liberation of Europe, making these adaptive renovations among the most influential to ever be applied to Albert Kahn, Inc. designs. Carlson considered the gravity of Kahn’s bearing on world history and asked, “What unique and significant adaptive renovations and reuses of Kahn designs might we find here in the Motor City if we went looking? Exactly how far might Kahn’s influence posthumously and unintentionally extend into Detroit’s future? Which reuses might exhibit the greatest degrees of versatility and unintended consequences?” Dale’s investigations intrigued us, as we hope they will you. Join Dale on the evening of Wednesday, January 26th at 7pm for a countdown/reveal style presentation, with accompanying Keynote lecture and fine art photography, showcasing what Dale believes Kahn himself would consider the most wildly unpredictable renovations and reuses of his buildings in Metropolitan Detroit. Bring your own stories of imaginative repurposing to share during a post-lecture Q&A with discussion. We look forward to seeing you there.
About Dale Carlson: Author, photographer and architectural historian, Dale A. Carlson was born and raised along the northeastern shores of Lake Michigan where, as an adolescent, he developed a fascination with the city of Detroit. Throughout the 1990s Mr. Carlson studied art, journalism and graphic design at four Michigan colleges including Michigan State University, while simultaneously migrating closer and closer to the Detroit Metro Area. In 2004 he made southeast Oakland County his permanent home, and in 2019 he earned an associate degree in photographic technology from Oakland Community College. He serves on the City of Berkley’s Historical Committee and is the author of Corrado Parducci: A Field Guide to Detroit’s Architectural Sculptor. His latest project, Kahn’s Detroit: A Field Guide to Albert Kahn Designs of the Metro Area, showcases 300 extant Kahn designs in southeast Michigan and will be published in late 2021. Mr. Carlson will also publish a field guide to stained glass of the New Orleans metropolis late in the year and he calls the city his second home. He credits his late wife, Carolin Venegas Jones, whom he married in 2014, for inspiring his ventures into publishing and photography.
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).