Notes on Kite Aerial Photography: Photo Gallery

More Ford Assembly Building
Richmond, California


A view of the plant as it borders San Francisco Bay. It turns out that this is the Ford Motor Assembly Plant designed in 1930 by noted architect Albert Kahn. The city of San Francisco's downtown is on the horizon just to the left of the smokestack (Canon 24-mm, May 2000)



After Charlie and I discovered this site I pledged that I would look it up at school. It was not a surprise to find that this was a Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant designed by architect Albert Kahn in 1930 and completed in 1931. I have always been a fan of Albert Kahn's Office, the most prominent American industrial practice in the first half of the 20th century. Though Kahn died in 1942 his firm remains active today with a staff of 400 people. The building we found is the only remaining example of Kahn's work on the West Coast of the United States. 




A quartet of view of the Ford Plant. From the upper-left clockwise: A ground-level fisheye view of the Craneway from the west showing its relationship with the water, a view down the assembly floor clerestory skylights, an oblique view of the Craneway facade, and an overhead view of the Craneway's butterfly roof section with sailboat (Canon 24-mm,
May 2000)

My faculty colleagues in building science and I belong to a set of architecture faculty that harbor an abiding curiosity regarding the physical performance of buildings. Architects establish, in their designs, a frame for our daily lives, a setting that reflects culture, region, and place, that contributes to our well-being as building occupants, and - of principal concern in this lecture - a frame that shapes major patterns of energy use. One of the charms of Albert Kahn's design for this factory is that it responds so honestly in relating the assembly process to the natural amenities of light and air and the circulation of material and occupants. In doing so it creates a sense of place and purpose that is missing from the modernist boxes (albeit with postmodern decoration) that have risen in its shadow. 

On the left, a view down the roof monitors with the Port of Richmond beyond and, on the right, a close aerial view of the Oil House roof (Canon 24-mm, May 2000)



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