To pamastro: You're talking to an old Ford hand...

  • I was once a management trainee with Ford Motor Company, working in the Controller's office at the Twin Cities Assembly Plant. I'm afraid it wasn't a very good match, especially when I decided to grow a beard. It was in the late sixties, of course, when a beard was seen as a sign of rebellion. The Controller sent me to production control to have my picture taken so he could send it to Dearborn, not for approval, but simply to prove he had someone working for him who had a beard. When I went on the floor in my job as cost analyst I got more than my share of razzing. I almost got into a fist fight at an annual dinner when a foreman told me that a beard wasn't proper for a Ford employee. Times have certainly changed, though I still have my beard, 36 years later. They were especially distressed when I posted quotes from Erich Fromm and Herbert Marcuse on the bulletin board. They quickly disappeared until one day I was called into the plant manager's office and told politely to desist. And so...I enrolled in graduate school in architecture at the University of Washington.

    I too will be posting a photo of a Ford building, though it is the long abandoned assembly plant in Richmond, California designed by Louis Kahn in the early 1930's. Glad you enjoyed this little meditation on shadows and geometry Paul.
  • Re: To pamastro: You're talking to an old Ford hand...
    Sounds like some of what I read about in my Detroit history classes. It was that post-Henry Ford age. After the time when he had complete control over people at the factory and tried to have control over their domestic lives as well. Hopefully those days have passed.

    But they do have tight control over sight seers. Not only do they not want the building I was looking at photographed but they also do not allow photography in the new River Rouge factory here in Dearborn. It is a shame, too, since it looks like it really takes you right into the action of the factory. I will see when I go on a tour. Maybe I can sneak out a couple bad photos. My friend, an engineer who spends a lot of time at the factory, says she does not believe anything "top secret" is really there and definitely not visible from the viewing platforms. So this photography ban seems strange to me. I don't know how it was before but I believe the Diego Riverra murals of the original factory show tourists with cameras. Of course it could have been used as added symbolism.

    It would have been nice to compare with photos of the old plants like my old Packard Plant photos I posted earlier. And also now with shots of factories like the one you will be posting. New versus old. Alive versus dead.

    And when you say Louis Kahn do you mean Albert Kahn. I didn't know Louis was active that early. I know Albert designed River Rouge and the old Highland Park plant as well as numerous other plants for other companies here in Detroit.

    He also did other buildings like my earlier posted <a href="http://www.trekearth.com/gallery/North_America/United_States/photo39873.htm">Fisher Building<a/>. If you like art deco you might like that building. It is definitely one of my favorite buildings. I will be posting more Louis Kahn buildings, industrial and non, in the future, hopefully. So many Kahns, though... Albert, Louis and Fazlur. I think it is so strange that there were three unrelated people named Kahn who were world reknowned architects.
  • Re: To pamastro: You're talking to an old Ford hand...
    You're correct Paul, it was Albert Kahn. You know your architectural history much better than I do. Here is a link to the Richmond plant history.

    Richmond Assembly Plant

    The photo I will post if I have the occasion is of the portion of the complex shown in the first photo which is built over water. The brick structure is sound but the windows are gone and a huge hole exists in the ceiling. It is still a dramatic building, however. The Twin Cities Assembly was built in the mid-1920's but without the architectural distinction of the Richmond plant, at least as I recall during my time there. Fascinating subject, nonetheless.

    Curtis