Albert Kahn Designs for Packard
by Bud Juneau
Albert Kahn had been picked by Henry Joy to design the factory buildings in 1903. At that time, German-
born Kahn was a young but brilliant architect who would rise in stature along with the Packard Company
and end up designing not only for Packard and its executives but also serving as Ford’s architect for over
30 years, Chrysler’s for close to 20 years, and designing upwards of 150 plants for General Motors. Kahn
had designed homes for Henry B. Joy and Alvan Macauley and many of the prominent families in the
Detroit area as well.
The designs for the first factory buildings used traditional construction techniques and took only 90 days
to build. The completed buildings were turned over to the company on September 22, 1903. In later
buildings designed for Packard, after Albert’s brother Julius joined the firm, the first use of concrete
reinforced with rods was used. This milestone development allowed for stronger buildings, open space,
many windows and, in general, better working conditions for employees.
So when it was time to lay out the Proving Grounds, the Grand Entrance Gates, the Tudor Revival Lodge,
the Repair Garage, the Timing Stand, and the oval track — it went without saying that the architect of
first choice was Albert Kahn.