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Fisher Building roof was covered with tar during WWII: fact or urban legend?

One often told story about the Fisher Building is that its “golden tower” was covered with tar or asphalt during World War II to prevent it from being used as a landmark by enemy bombers. The origin of this story is unclear, but there is no evidence to support it and plenty to refute it. […]

The Great Hangar Scandal

Keeping with the theme of the last two blog entries, we now turn to the Great Hangar Scandal of 1929. In December 1928, the Detroit city council instructed the city’s commissioner of public works to hire architect Albert Kahn to design for Detroit City Airport “the largest hangar in the country.” Kahn was a reasonable […]

Kahn’s Hangars, Part Two: The Lansing, Illinois, Ford Airport

In a previous blog we discussed San Antonio’s Hangar 9, the lone, extant survivor of Albert Kahn’s template for building designs to outfit the United States Army with temporary air fields in World War I. Now our attention turns to another lone surviving hangar, this one from Edsel and Henry Ford’s effort to popularize commercial […]

Kahn’s Hangars, Part One: World War One Training Fields

It is quite rewarding to find well-preserved gems of architectural and historical importance that have been widely overlooked in scholarship but remain beloved in their communities. Such is the case with two Albert Kahn-designed airplane hangars; one in San Antonio, Texas, and the other in the Village of Lansing, Illinois. For Kahn scholars and enthusiasts, […]

Evolution of the Ford Service Building

At the corner of Woodward Avenue and Grand Boulevard in Detroit stands a rather depressing looking building that appears to date from the 1970s. It may surprise you to learn that the building actually dates from well over a hundred years ago. The eight-story, Albert Kahn designed building at 7310 Woodward Avenue was first constructed […]

Construction and Demise of the Packard Plant

Detroit’s Packard automobile plant is slowly yielding to the wreckers in preparation for a new use for the land. The Detroit Packard factory was first constructed in 1903 as a complex of one- and two-story brick and timber buildings, designed by brothers Albert and Julius Kahn. At the time, the brothers were in a partnership […]

Albert Kahn and Albert Kahn Associates, Inc

No architect of the 20th century was more significant or influential than Albert Kahn. Although the firm is best known in Detroit for a number of impressive office buildings, Kahn’s greatest contributions were in industrial architecture and the management and operation of a modern architecture firm. Albert Kahn possessed enormous foresight and a superb business […]