Ely Jacques Kahn
Ely Jacques Kahn (1884–1972), Architect

Ely Jacques Kahn was born in New York on June 1, 1884, the son of Jakob Kahn and Eugenie Maximilian. His father had emigrated from Hohenems to New York in 1871 and founded a mirror factory there. Ely Jacques Kahn studied architecture, first in New York and then from 1907 to 1911 in Paris at the École des Beaux Arts. After a brief stay in Hohenems and his return to New York, he began working as a design draftsman for renowned architectural firms before joining the firm of Albert Buchman, whose leadership he soon took over. In the 1920s and 1930s Kahn became one of New York’s leading architects, whose tall set back structures, designed in the spirit of Art Déco, shaped the New York skyline. During the Depression, he had to downsize his architectural practice, concentrating on public commissions and architectural theory and educational work. In the mid-1940s he was able to build on his great successes and, in partnership with Robert Allan Jacobs and later Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, he once again designed important buildings, most recently the Seagram Building. After the Second World War, he also worked on synagogue construction and in 1948, together with Jo Davidson, he drew up the first plans for a Holocaust Memorial. His sister Rena Kahn ran a gallery for design with her husband Rudolf Rosenthal in New York.