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The US Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale, Curated by Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner, Explores Wood-Framed Construction in American Architecture

The US Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale, Curated by Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner, Explores Wood-Framed Construction in American Architecture

Titled "American Framing", the United States pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, will explore the omnipresence and creative power of wood-framed construction in American architecture, an overlooked structural element. Curated by Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner, the exhibition will be on display at the Giardini della Biennale from May 22 through November 21, 2021.

San Francisco earthquake refugee housing, 1906.. Image Courtesy of San Francisco History CenterWar housing in Erie, Pennsylvania, 1941. Photo by Al Palmer.. Image via Library of CongressChicago Lumberyard, 1870. Photographer Unknown.. Image Courtesy of Chicago History MuseumNight Construction, Reno, 1977. . Image © Lewis Batlz+ 10

Architects and Associate Professors Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner have been selected to organize and curate American Framing. The pavilion is commissioned by Paul Preissner and the University of Illinois at Chicago, with the collaboration of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The site-specific installation on the pavilion's façade, along with photographs, models, and site-responsive furniture, will animate the entrance of the neoclassical pavilion and will highlight an architectural element that has been often overlooked throughout the years.

Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner, 2015.. Image © Chris Strong
Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner, 2015.. Image © Chris Strong

We want to work with a particularly American theme and open up new possibilities for design. The exhibition will look back at the history of wood framing and speculate on how buildings might be different if we restrain or exaggerate the system itself. As practicing architects and educators, we often explore how ordinary architecture might be a platform for new ideas and discourse. -- Paul Andersen


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Venice Biennale 2021 to Open to the Public from May 22nd to November 21st

Stacks of lumber, Seattle Cedar Manufacturing Plant, Ballard, 1958,. Image Courtesy of PEMCO Webster & Stevens Collection, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle
Stacks of lumber, Seattle Cedar Manufacturing Plant, Ballard, 1958,. Image Courtesy of PEMCO Webster & Stevens Collection, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle

The exhibition will demonstrate the architecture of wood framing, a construction system very common in the United States, and one of its most important contributions to building practice. Just outside the pavilion, visitors can experience wood framing from the full-scale works displayed. Visitors will then enter the space through an installation designed by the two curators, accompanied by furniture designed by UIC students in collaboration with UIC School of Architecture faculty.

Window, 2020. Image © Chris Strong
Window, 2020. Image © Chris Strong

Inside the pavilion, visitors will learn about the people, work, and history of wood framing through photographs and architectural models. Daniel Shea and Chris Strong have both been commissioned to work on photo-series that display different elements of wood construction. Shea will develop a series of photographs that document fir and pine forests where lumber trees grow, and Strong will focus on framing materials and the people who work around mills, shops, and construction sites. In addition to the photographs, a selection of building models created by UIC students will trace the history of wood framing, covering its development through various social and cultural moments in the 20th century.

Audel's Carpenter's and Builder's Guide © 1923.. Image Courtesy of the Pavilion of the United States at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.
Audel's Carpenter's and Builder's Guide © 1923.. Image Courtesy of the Pavilion of the United States at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

As in other work conducted in the School, the UIC proposal for the U.S. Pavilion intensifies and deviates a standard element or system as a means to remake the world in a surprising yet plausible way. -- Robert Somol, Director of the UIC School of Architecture

American Framing

Courtesy of U.S. National Archives and Records Administration
Courtesy of U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner

Paul Andersen is an architect, author, and university professor. He is currently a clinical associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and has taught at the UIC School of Architecture, Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cornell University Department of Architecture, and the Universidad Torcuato Di Tella. He is the director of Independent Architecture, an award-winning Denver-based architecture office that focuses on forms, repetition, and pop culture play in architecture. The Biennale will not be his first curation project, as he guest curated at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver for Energy Effects: Art and Artifacts from the Landscape of Glorious Excess in 2010, and worked alongside the Biennial of the Americas as a curator for Draft Urbanism in 2013.

Paul Preissner is an architect, co-director, and associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture. He has taught at Columbia University GSAPP, Syracuse University School of Architecture, the University of Pennsylvania School of Design, the University of Nebraska School of Architecture, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Southern California Institute of Architecture. His architecture firm, Paul Preissner Architects, is a Chicago-based award-winning studio with a focus in housing, furniture, installations, and architectural exhibitions. His work takes an experimental approach of formal juxtapositions and modest materials, and have been exhibited globally in museums such as the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Chicago Architecture Biennial, and are a part of the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

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Cite: Dima Stouhi. "The US Pavilion at the 2021 Venice Biennale, Curated by Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner, Explores Wood-Framed Construction in American Architecture " 30 Apr 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/960940/the-us-pavilion-at-the-2021-venice-biennale-curated-by-paul-andersen-and-paul-preissner-explores-wood-framed-construction-in-american-architecture> ISSN 0719-8884

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