This time on the Cold Star Project we’re looking at Albert Kahn. Kahn’s firm pioneered standardization and modular systems, and had the biggest impact on industrial architecture in the 20th Century–yet is almost completely unknown both in the USA and Russia despite having done major projects in both countries.
Kahn’s USP was designing buildings on time & under budget, with good quality of construction. The “Why” of hiring his firm was not about hiring the artist (as with contemporary Frank Lloyd Wright) but rather the “corporate guarantee” Kahn’s leadership brought to the table.
The USSR’s transition from an agrarian to industrial economy was certainly sparked by the teaching and involvement of Kahn’s firm as the Soviets hired them to teach their engineers and build their first giant mass production factories.
I’m indebted to Claire Zimmerman and Sonia Melnikova-Raich for the information used to create this episode.
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