2.3. Over here, the “Model” Factory and influence from the USA.

The development of the multi-storey mill starting in the 18th century was on the whole a British affair which was adapted throughout the world. However, in the early part of the 20th century, across the Atlantic new production methods were being developed, based on the ideas of Frederick Taylor in his publication “Principles of scientific management” (ref.1) and spearheaded by Henry Ford (ref.2)and the needs of the automotive industry.

This tied in with the availability of a newly developed reinforced concrete system developed by the Kahn brothers in Detroit. The “Kahn system” (ref.3) as it was patented, was marketed by the newly formed “Kahncrete” company and its subsidiary “Trussed Concrete Steel Company”, or “Truscon” as it was often known. The company’s aim was to sell the system under licence in the USA and Britain where Moritz Kahn sought new markets and established an office in London (1907).

Albert Khan (ref.4)completed a factory for the Packard Motor Company (ref.5),Detroit (ref.6)(1903), (figure 2.7) the first American reinforced concrete building and the first to have steel windows imported from England.

fig 2.7 Packard factory

fig 2.7 Packard factory

These elements produced a lighter building than ever before. In 1906 with the Pierce Automobile plant in Buffalo (ref.7), New York, (figure 2.8) he designed a factory in which self-contained work cycles were housed within a single storey, steel framed, top lit by “saw tooth” (ref.8) roof glazed buildings designed for uniform lighting and physical flexibility to aid production within.

fig 2.8 Pierce Auto factory

fig 2.8 Pierce Auto factory

Khan was then commissioned by Henry Ford to build a new four-storey plant in Highland Park Detroit (1910) (Figure 2.9) and three years later built the factory to house the world’s first moving assembly line. This was for the “Ford model T.” (ref.9) Ford demanded a building with the focus on open space, adaptability, uncluttered areas suitable for production flow lines where the planned integrated processes, from the arrival of raw materials to the finished product, could all take place on one level.

fig 2.9. Ford Highland Park Auto factory

fig 2.9. Ford Highland Park Auto factory

His next commission was the Ford Rouge plant (ref.10) (1916), (figure 2.10), a mammoth plant, its assembly line ran through a series of single storey units. Here Khan introduced the use of steel rather than reinforced concrete for its structural framework. Kahn was to develop this design in numerous subsequent factories, all single storey, all lit from above to enable the floor to be kept clear for machinery and processes. Services such as lavatories and offices were placed at a higher, often mezzanine level.

fig 2.10 Ford Rouge Auto plant

fig 2.10 Ford Rouge Auto plant

These buildings became known as “Model factories” and their design as the “Kahn Daylight system” being based on a regular grid of column, beam and slab. Concrete sections were fully exposed and external wall spaces were glass filled with slender glazing bars. Truscon opened their first example of this type of building in the U.K at Trafford Park, Manchester (1911) for the Ford motor company (figure 2.11).

fig 2.11. Manchester industry park

fig 2.11. Manchester industry park

Soon after on a green field site in Dumfries, a three story E shaped factory was built for the Arrol–Johnson Motor Company(ref.11) (1912-13), (figure 2.12). A four story building for the engineers G.J Weir ltd, Glasgow (1912-13) and another for the Albion Motor company in Glasgow (1913-15) (ref.12)(figure 2.13) were also completed. The aforementioned Uniroyal factory in Dumfries may be another unconfirmed early example.

fig 2.12.  Arrol Johnson auto plant

fig 2.12. Arrol Johnson auto plant

fig 2.13. Albion motors

fig 2.13. Albion motors

The increasing availability of this new fast economic and adaptable reinforced concrete coincided with the shortage of materials created by the military build up for the First World War(ref.13) in Europe, and the relaxing of building regulations. Its versatility also made it more attractive. Truscon took advantage of this, designing innumerable civil factories before turning to establishments required for armaments and defence hardware. One example being the Birmingham Small Arms factory(ref.14) (B.S.A) (1914), in Small Heath , West Midlands, (Figure 2.14), whose design appeared as a chequer board of concrete piers and rectangular windows.

fig 2.14. B.S.A works Birmingham

fig 2.14. B.S.A works Birmingham


(ref.1)Frederick Taylor published “The Principles of Scientific Management “1911, where he recommended the use of scientific method to systematise and standardise industry. Taylor demonstrated, for example, that if a man carried out orders to the minutest detail and showed no initiative he could load over 47 tons of pig iron a day onto a railway truck. He then used this as a standard to judge other workers who, he found, were typically loading only about 12 tons. Taylor reasoned that the hard working employee should be better paid and was happier to work under these conditions. There were then attempts to take these models of industrial efficiency into schools. Under the guidance of the US Office of Education a number of schools were surveyed their own work and ‘objective tests’ were developed to determine the quality of teaching.  www.enquirylearning.net/ELU/Issues/Research/Res1Ch3.html

(ref.2)Henry Ford, the son of farmer, was born in Greenfield, Michigan on 30th July, 1863. He left school at 15 to work on his father’s farm but in 1879 he moved to Detroit, Michigan where he became an apprentice in a machine shop. To help him survive on his low wages he spent his evenings repairing clocks and watches.  Ford returned to Greenfield after his father gave him 40 acres to start his own farm. He disliked farming and spent much of the time trying to build a steam road carriage and a farm locomotive. Unable to settle at Greenfield, Ford returned to Detroit to work as an engineer for the Edison Illuminating Company. During this period Ford read an article in the World of Science how the German engineer Nicolas Otto, had built a internal combustion engine. Ford now spent his spare time trying to build a petrol-driven motor car. His first car, finished in 1896, was built in a little brick shed in his garden. Driven by a two-cylinder, four-cycle motor, it was mounted on bicycle wheels. Named the Thin Lizzie, the car had no reverse gear or brakes.The Henry Ford: The Life of Henry Ford

(ref.3) Kahn system Kahn first developed the concrete framing system when he worked with Henry Ford to design the first automobile assembly line in a long, low building in 1909 in Highland Park, Michigan. Kahn went on to design many more factories and of his 2,000 works, some 500 were factories built in the Soviet Union in the 1920s.University of Michigan – Michigan Today

 (ref.4)Albert Kahn.  Born. Rhaunen, Germany 1869; d. New York, N.Y. 1942) Albert Kahn was born in Rhaunen, Germany in 1869. In 1884, four years after emigrating to the U.S. Kahn joined the architectural firm of Mason & Rise. Eventually, he became the firm’s principal architect and chief designer. In 1891, during his tenure with Mason & Rise, he visited Europe on a scholarship award. In 1896, Kahn established a partnership with George Nettleton and Alexander Trowbridge, which dissolved in 1900. In 1902, Kahn established his own practice. Although his early work was unassuming, Kahn achieved a breakthrough in 1906 with his single storey, top-lit modular design for the George N. Pierce Plant in Buffalo, New York. Designed to uniform lighting and physical flexibility, it rapidly became the prototype for American factory design, particularly in the emerging motor industry. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Kahn was not inclined to “romanticize the machine”. Extensions of user needs, his designs provided efficient and practical solutions to a growing industrial environment. By the late 1930s Kahn employed over 600 people and was responsible for nearly a fifth of the industrial buildings within the U.SAlbert Kahn – Great Buildings Online

 (ref.5)Packard. “The first large scale modern auto plant, the first nine building erected on the site were made in the old style with wood timbers. However building #10 (1905), was made of reinforced steel and concrete (The Kahn System), and was the first factory built that way. The system of reinforced concrete revolutionized factory design and Albert Kahn went on to build many other factories with the design perfected on Packard .www.internationalmetropolis.com/detroit/packard

 (ref.6) “Detroit‘s glory years were 1910 to 1930. In 1929, 5.3 million automobiles were produced, and half the city’s labour force worked in the industry. Spurred by a tremendous immigration movement, the population had swelled from under 300,000 in 1900 to more than 1.5 million in 1929. At that time, Detroit became the foremost industrial centre in the United States” Architecture Week – Culture – The Factory Architecture of Albert Kahn – 2000.1101

(ref.7)1906 George N. Pierce Plant, Buffalo, NY, Architect: Albert Kahn. This automobile factory, home of the famous Pierce Arrow car, was the first industrial “modular” building. It was designed so that any number of extensions could be added onto it. Skylights in the roof provided the most efficient form of natural light for workers on the new assembly line. http://www.artistsdomain.com/dev/eere/web/images/timeline/1900/pierce2a.jpg

(ref.8) Saw tooth Roof. A saw tooth roof is an old design often seen in industrial buildings. Typically one sloped surface is opaque and the other is glazed. A contemporary saw tooth roof may have solar collectors or photovoltaic cells on the south-facing slope and daylight glazing on the north-facing slope.DOE Building Technologies Program: Daylighting

(ref.9)Ford adopted the idea of focusing primarily on one mass-produced product with his Model T (a code name assigned by the design department), launched in 1908 and nicknamed the “Tin Lizzie.” Nearly 15 million cars were produced in the twenty years of the Model T’s existence (1908-27); following World War I, more than one new car in two produced in the United States was a Ford Model T. In addition, Ford decided to begin manufacturing all the auto parts on a single site. Architecture Week – Culture – The Factory Architecture of Albert Kahn – 2000.1101

(ref.10)Ford Rouge plant. During the late 1920s and early 1930s the Ford Rouge plant became the largest industrial complex in the world, as well as the most advanced, architecturally and technically.  Because Henry Ford was determined to be independent of suppliers, he developed the Rouge into an almost self-sufficient and self-contained industrial city. Construction began on April 1, 1917 and 10 years later the facility contained 93 structures, 90 miles of railroad tracks, 27 miles of conveyors, 53,000 machine tools and 75,000 employees. Detroit architect Albert Kahn designed most of the complex. Today, the Rouge is only one of many Ford Motor Co. manufacturing and assembling facilities. But it is still unique in American industry. Situated on more than 2,000 acres in Dearborn along the Rouge River, a tributary of the Detroit River southwest of downtown Detroit, the Rouge plant was built to easily receive iron ore from Upper Michigan and coal from Pennsylvania by ship. A huge basin in the Rouge allowed the freighters room to easily dock, unload and manoeuvre out. Henry Ford had purchased the site in 1915 as a new home for his revolutionary automated assembly line, perfected at his Highland Park facility. On May 26, 1927, the last Model T came off the line at Highland Park. In September of that year the new Model A began rolling out of the Rouge plant. Over the next 15 years, 15 million cars paraded out of the Rouge. DETNEWS.COM | History Photo Gallery

(ref.11) Arrol-Johnson, Sir William Arrol was the Engineer (who I am told is Scotland’s most famous) responsible for such works as the bridge in Edinburgh, Sydney Harbour, Nile bridge in Egypt and London Bridge. The car company commenced in 1895 making “Dog Carts” a very basic type of car. Google Image Result for http://www.dumfries-and-galloway.co.uk/people/images/gall_cars.jpg

(ref.12)Albion Car Company. The Albion name has appeared on vehicles from 1899 to 1975, (Taken over by Leyland motors in 1950).
A few private cars were made between 1900 and 1915 of either two or four cylinders. The first motor dogcarts, in June 1900, had tiller steering, gear-change by “Patent Combination Clutches”, solid tyres and cost £400.British Motor Manufacturers 1894-1960, Albion

 (ref.13)Companies applying for licences to build a factory or extension during the First war were required to use as little wood or steel as possible Reinforced concrete became the obvious choice as it used less steel framing and concrete was not in short supply. Joan S Skinner, Form and Fancy, Liverpool, 1997, page 28.

(ref.14) Birmingham Small Arms. BSA dates back to the Crimean War (1854-1856). Fourteen Birmingham gunsmiths founded the Birmingham Small Arms Trade Association to supply armaments to the British government. Their association was cemented in 1861 when they became the Birmingham Small Arms Company. A new factory was built at Small Heath in 1863, which was then on the edge of Birmingham. They diversified into making bicycles, motorcycles and motorcars. Following a turbulent period in the 1960s two BSA companies emerged, BSA Guns and BSA Regal (motorcycles). BSA Guns are still based at the Small Heath factoryGoogle Image Result for http://www.birminghamstories.co.uk/db/media/lrg/BSA_factory.jpg

About these ads
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: