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.
On display at the Community Gallery of the Detroit Historical Museum
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.
Using numerous photos, wooden and LEGO building models, artifacts from Albert Kahn’s lifetime, and video clips, the exhibit shows the innovative genius behind the design and building of many of Detroit and Michigan’s most iconic structures–from the automotive factories of the early 20th century, such as the Packard Plant and Ford’s sprawling Rouge complex, to numerous Detroit landmarks, including the Fisher Building (“Detroit’s largest art object”), the Detroit Athletic Club, and the Belle Isle Aquarium and Conservatory. During the height of the Art Deco period, Kahn designed the former General Motors headquarters, the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House, and many buildings on the University of Michigan campus, including Hill Auditorium and the Carillon Tower.
As the world’s foremost industrial architect of his day, Kahn was the trailblazer in building factories for the Ford Motor Company, in meeting the needs of the Arsenal of Democracy efforts of WWII, and for the development of the Soviet Union’s industrial economy. His large firm of architects and designers established in 1895 (and still working today) fulfilled his wide-ranging talents. As a model of the successful immigrant to America, Kahn went on to influence the course of 20th-century architecture around the world. This exhibit demonstrates Albert Kahn’s genius, virtuosity, productivity and legacy.
“Albert Kahn: Innovation and Influence on 20th Century Architecture” will be on display in the Community Gallery of the Detroit Historical Museum, 5401 Woodward Avenue, Detroit, from April 22 to July 3, 2022. https://detroithistorical.org/