muenster school of architecture, Münster, Germany
with partners:
Lawrence Technological University, Architectural Department, Southfield, MI
Albert Kahn Associates, family of companies, Detroit, MI, USA





(1869 – 1942)


events  february – december  2017

Münster – Berlin – Stuttgart – Detroit




msa - muenster school of architecture, Muenster, Germany


Planned events at the occasion of
the 75th anniversary of Albert Kahn's death, dec. 7, 1942.


This short paper is just a rough outline of our project which we're planning to get realized during the next year – starting february 2017 on our campus in Muenster, Germany and finally ending december 7 in Detroit, MI. It is developped by two architectural professors, Prof. Juergen Reichardt (construction) and Prof. Thorsten Buerklin (history and theory of architecture) and Dieter Marcello (industrial-sociologist and filmmaker) – all of them teaching at msa – muenster school of architecture.


We intend to celebrate life and work of Albert Kahn at the occasion of  the 75th anniversary of his death on december 7, 1942.


Our first step in a series of different events as planned is the so-called Annual on our campus in february 6 to 10, 2017 - with it’s only focus on the architect Albert Kahn (1869-1942. This Annual combines all different objects and visual art works, which will be on display at all of the other winter 2017 following events and will therefore be here described in a more detailed manner:



This event will display models of 8 to 10 different Albert Kahn industrial buildings and 3-D-structural and architectural animations, all of them produced by students of our school during the 2016/17 seminars of the two above mentioned teacher – Prof. Juergen Reichardt and Prof. Thosten Buerklin. (See: ALBERT KAHN re-animated)

Additionally a series of short films highlighting aspects of Albert Kahn’s life and work will be projected, also produced by students during the last three semesters in the classes of filmmaker Dieter Marcello. (see: Bauhaus vs. Albert Kahn, Albert Kahn – Der italienische Einfluss, THE SKETCHBOOKS OF ALBERT KAHN, (2015/2016) and:  Albert Kahn/Albert SPEER Sieg vs. Endsieg, ALBERT SPEER inner and outer architecture, in and out, BANDBREITE / wide range, DIE SPRACHE DER ARCHITEKTUR  language of architecture, (2016) These already finished short films will be presented together with still to-be-done short videos covering Albert Kahn’s drawings from his first travelling to Italy at the age of 21. The specific format how to display another series of  historic photographs and videos of Albert Kahn's industrial works as well as showing their 100-year-later status will be the outcome of our actual research of August/September 2016 in Detroit and Ann Arbor. The former Ford assembly plant in Richmond, CA will just serve as an example. 

To span a wider range of visual presentation of Albert Kahn’s work the recently shown exhibition at the University of Ann Arbor Museum of Art ‘Kahn under Construction’,  curated by Prof. Claire Zimmerman, Associate Professor, Department of the History of Art and Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning in Ann Arbor will also be presented. Right now we have talks with Ernestine Ruben, a photograph artist and grand daughter of Albert Kahn to have included her multmedia artwork on Kahn’s last commission, the Willow Run bomber plant which will premiere next month in Ohio and Massachusets.

To mention the whole arch of visual contributions to this Annual, the just recently and newly from 35mm negative film to full HD 16:9 video format transfered version of  Dieter Marcello's own theatrical documentary film ‘Albert Kahn Architect of Modern Times’ will also be shown, as well as his award winning feature film about Detroit and it's industrial history 'American Beauty Ltd.'. 

We are happy to have Prof. Zimmerman as the leading researcher on Albert Kahn joining our discussion panel of various academics as the above mentioned experts, together with Jan Frohberg of University of Limerick, working on his dissertation on Mies’ van der Rohe (and Kahn’s) architectural art work ‘
orchestra hall’, and the dean and other members of the msa faculty of architecture. 
During the course of the Annual prof. Zimmerman will deliver a more insightfull public lecture of her various studies on Albert Kahn. 

The Annual will also be the opportunity to present a new book – mostly focussing on Albert Kahn’s structural architecture with a larger range of various contributors, edited by Prof. Reichardt and Prof. Buerklin from muenster school of Architecture.
We hope to combine this first presentation with the forthcoming newest Albert Kahn biography of Michael Hodges, Detroit, MI.

In order to prepare und to do further research and connections a group of three msa master students and Dieter Marcello are presently working in Detroit and Ann Arbor to sort out and copy or scan original drawings, photographs and artwork for the different preparational tasks to be mounted on a wider display on campus during this event.


We understand the so-called Annual at our campus in Muenster, focussing on Albert Kahn, as the first step to three much more public oriented events to celebrate Albert Kahn and his work.

Our concern is to broaden the awarenes of the importance of Albert Kahn's work for the formation of modern architecture as a whole.

Beginning with his earliest personal and vivid recognition of the principles of renaissance architecture on his trip to Italy in 1890/91 we try to prove – through animated presentation of his own drawings as well as historic and actual photographs of the buildings, which drew up his attention -  proving our understanding that Kahn's sense for the renaissance's ratio and rationality became the core of his own architectural, organizational and aesthetic driving force for his lifelong work. So it was not far from his italian experience to adopt Frederick Winslow Taylor's 'principal of rational organization' of factory work when he became the outstanding architect of all of the US automakers when they rose to the leading driving economic force of the 20th century.

Following this conceptional understanding (which we would very much like to discuss in advance and during the events) the consecuting arguments are just roughly itemized:

-        Kahn's Industrial work recognized and adopted  by the european Bauhaus architects and theorists – dued to just the aesthetic of his buildings' visual impression.

-        Re-transfer to the US through the MOMA exhibiton 'The International Style' of 1933.

-        Reenforced concrete and pure steel construction as an ongoing adaptating process on varying industrial and constructational needs.

-        Kahn's own method of industrial and rational organization of his own office became the base of his crucial and finally victorious contribution to ww2 on both sides of the Allies.

We are very happy to have the commitment of the Berliner
Akademie der Kuenste, where we’re also planning to project, display and organize most of the the above detailed parts of our theme. In Berlin, Germany, the discussing (and lecturing?) pannel will be enlarged by Prof. Jean-Louis Cohen, referring to his outstanding exhibition ‘Architecture in Uniform’ in Montreal, Paris and Rome. This focus on Albert Kahn’s contribution to the allie’s final victory will furthermore be detailed by Sonia Melnikowa, the grand-niece of Albert Kahn’s soviet counterpart, heading the russian contracting company for all of his work during the first five-year-plan, beginning with the tractor plant in Stalingrad (later THE producer of T-34-tanks), which, together with all of the 531 Kahn’s russian industrial plants, were crucial to withstand and finally defeat the german assault against Russia.  Sonia Melnikowa, an architect, now residing in San Francisco, has published her paper on these russian works of Albert Kahn and Stalin’s later purge of all of Albert Kahn’s russian partners, like her great-uncle Saul G. Bron, under the title ‘The Soviet Problem with Two “Unknowns”: How an American Architect and a Soviet Negotiator Jump-Started the Industrialization of Russia’.


2.2   STUTTGART, Germany
Having Detroit as THE motorcity in our Albert Kahn focus, we’re planning to refer to Stuttgart as sort of automotive counterpart to Detroit’s history and presence. How the strikingly different infrastructures of the two cities' and metro aerea's public transportation system contribute to their grow, resp. decrease, could be an interesting topic of this event.

In addition to all of the above mentioned visual objects and performances, we're planning, to take the Mercedes Tuscaloosa plant in Alabama, built by the late and still existing Albert Kahn firm, to combine this with the general aspect of  use, re-use, altering or destroying Kahn's up to 100 year old industrial stuctures. Our aim is to display and discuss this at the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart in the city-center at the Schlossplatz, looking down towards the Neues Schloss.  Stuttgart will also be the place to have an insightfull paper or better: lecturing with pictures-projecting on ‘Detroit’s long lasting love-affair with Albert Kahn, for which we just recently got the commitment by the Detroit Free Press senior editor and architectural author John Gallagher.



To make it clear, we hope to have our most important event here in Detroit, specifically on december 7, the day Albert Kahn died 75 years ago, during the war, for which he was crucial in helping to win. In these recent days we had promising talks with the new owners of the famous Fisher Building. The cathedral-like concourse and the 2000-seats Fisher Theater will be a wonderfull location to honor their architect of 1928. We are very happy and feel honored to announce that Lawrence Technical University will be our academic  partner in the Detroit metro aerea to stage this event.
The furthermore detailed outline for this specific event will follow after our recent stay in the region.

To make happen these events in Berlin, Stuttgart and Detroit, we’re just starting our bids and efforts. We all would be happy to anybody’s and any institution’s wisdom, counseling, means and fonds to bring all of this together.


List of films already on vimeo:


Dieter Marcello:


Albert Kahn Architect of Modern Times (1995)(engl)



AMERICAN BEAUTY LTD. (1989) (engl.)               

AMERICAN BEAUTY LTD. (deutsch)                     


architectural master students at
Muenster school of Architecture, Münster, Germany:


2015/16 – Palladio and Albert Kahn:


  Bauhaus vs. Albert Kahn                                     

  Albert Kahn – Der italienische Einfluss            



2016 Sieg vs. Endsieg – The architects Albert Kahn and Albert Speer


  Albert Kahn ./. Albert SPEER Sieg vs. Endsieg

  ALBERT KAHN re-animated                                 

  ALBERT SPEER inner and outer architecture 

  in and out                                                                

  BANDBREITE / wide range                                   

  DIE SPRACHE DER ARCHITEKTUR  language of architecture


8 pages .doc-version