Albert Kahn gave Detroit a face back in the '20s in the same way the
auto industry gave it a name. With hundreds of buildings, factories,
and homes designed by the architect here in Detroit, he rarely gets the
credit he deserves and is, oftentimes, referred to as "the other Kahn,"
because of post-war modernist Louis Kahn (no relation). Regardless of
name weight, Albert Kahn is responsible for most of Detroit's skyline.
Albert Kahn is America’s forgotten architect — even though in his
lifetime, he (and his firm) produced more buildings than any other
architect, and his design and production method changed the face of the
country. Eighty years before the bailout of the auto industry, just
before the Great Depression, Kahn built the most opulent of Detroit’s
new corporate skyscrapers — the Art Deco-style Fisher Building. Facing
the GM headquarters, Kahn’s grandest expression of civic architecture
defined the unique American union of commercial and civic identity.
Detroit Auto Show 2009 this month pinned its hopes for a 21st
century transformation of the American motor industry on selling the
complex technologies of electric engines. The person who transformed
the space and appearance of Detroit in the 20th century, though he
favored technology did not depend on complexity.
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