A 1906 graduate of Columbia College, Kahn spent several years at the Ecole
des Beaux-Arts in Paris before returning to New York to join the firm of Buchman
and Fox. The firm had many connections in the retail and garment industries;
department stores were among their clients. Bloomingdale's and Oppenheim-Collins
were two of their major patrons. Kahn, along with Raymond Hood and Ralph Walker,
was one of the most successful New York architects of the 1920s. His buildings
include 2 Park Avenue, the Squibb Building, Bergdorf-Goodman, 120 Wall Street,
525 Seventh Avenue, the Film Center Building, among many others. Because of
Kahn's decorative talents, the buildings were also known for their colorful
lobbies and elevator cabs and exterior ornament.
Around 1940, Kahn teamed with a younger architect, Robert Allan Jacobs, son
of the architect Harry Allan Jacobs, who had just returned from working in Le
Corbusier's office in Paris. This project for a post-war theater shows the
exuberance and eagerness for a post-war New York City. After years of war-time
blackouts, these drawings promised a return to the bright lights and excitement
of Times Square. Unfortunately, this project was not built.
The Kahn Collection was the gift of Hellmuth, Obata, and Kassabaum, the
successor firm to Kahn and Jacobs. Additional personal materials, including
scrapbooks, clippings, and photographs, were gifts of Mrs. Ely Jacques Kahn.