Zimmerman Interviewed about Albert Kahn’s Legacy in Michigan and Across the Globe on NPR’s Stateside
Claire Zimmerman, Associate Professor of Architecture and of History of Art, was interviewed on February 10, 2017 on Michigan Public Radio’s Stateside on the topic of architect Albert Kahn’s influence in Detroit, across Michigan, and across the globe. She is currently participating in a two-month long project at Lawrence Technological University to highlight the work and legacy of Albert Kahn.
Zimmerman starts by sharing that Kahn was a German immigrant in the late 19th century whose family arrived as part of a surge of immigrants looking for jobs in the United States. When he landed in Detroit, Kahn was 11 years old. Eventually, Kahn became and architect and designed well-known buildings around Michigan: The Cadillac Place building (formerly called the Durant or General Motors building), Hatcher Library, the Fisher Building, Angel Hall, Burton Tower, part of the Packard Plant, the Clements Library, the Belle Isle Conservancy, the Highland Park Ford plant and more. Further, Kahn designed at least 400 buildings in Detroit alone, according to local historians, though his firm cites as many as 900 buildings.
There is a lot to learn from Kahn’s legacy. According to Zimmerman “The new recognition of Kahn is not so much a function of any particular date, but a growing understanding of the importance of industrialization to the American economy, to the built environment, to the Midwest as we find it today with this immense amount of infrastructure that’s basically falling apart or being demolished. There’s somehow a new understanding that this period of American history has been not quite adequately analyzed by those who study the built environment. And that we’re living with its effects, either because the buildings are still here or precisely because they aren’t. So the landscape of Detroit would be the best example of that – filled with empty pockets left by the immense building campuses that Kahn designed for Dodge, for Chrysler, for Ford…”
For the full article and interview with Claire Zimmerman, click here. It includes why Kahn’s Highland Park Ford plant was a game changer and how the architect differs from his contemporaries.