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Groundbreaking University of Illinois Chicago Project on Wood-Framed Construction in American Architecture to Be Featured in Concurrent Spring Exhibitions and Forthcoming Publication

AMERICAN FRAMING Presented in the U.S. for the First Time, Reinstalled in Europe, and Commemorated in New Book Following Highly Regarded Premiere in the U.S. Pavilion for the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia

American Framing - AdditionChicago, IL | March 31, 2022—Commissioned by University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), the United States Pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia (2021) brought unprecedented attention to wood-framed construction in American architecture, which had been largely overlooked by historical and contemporary discourse. This spring, UIC Faculty and Co-Curators Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner continue to explore the ubiquity and aesthetic power of this architectural element in three new iterations of American Framing: its first presentation in the United States at Wrightwood 659 in Chicago (May 6 – July 16, 2022); a reinstallation at the Galerie Jaroslava Fragnera in Prague (April 28 – June 24, 2022); and a new volume published by Park Books (Summer/Fall 2022).  

American Framing takes a multidisciplinary approach to the architecture of wood framing, the most common construction system in the U.S. and one of the country’s most important contributions to building practice. Both exhibitions and the book build on the core elements of the project while introducing new perspectives and additional components, including site-specific installations at each venue, new models and photography, and the latest scholarship.

“As educators and practicing architects, Paul and I often explore how ordinary architecture might be a platform for new ideas and discourse. By extending this project with new presentations, American Framing continues to expand our understanding of the history, importance, and possibilities of wood framing,” said Paul Andersen, UIC Clinical Associate Professor and American Framing co-organizer.

“Wood framing is the great forgotten basis of American architecture. It is especially exciting to bring this project to our audiences here in Chicago, while continuing to build awareness of this often dismissed or ignored form of construction globally,” said Paul Preissner, UIC Professor and American Framing co-organizer.

American Framing reflects on wood-framed construction as emblematic of American ideology, from its history and culture to its utility and design potential. Originating in the early 19th century during the rapid westward expansion of the United States, wood framing was introduced as a pragmatic solution to support infrastructure needs. With abundant forests making wood materials widely available and the simplicity and speed of its construction, wood framing has become a symbol of affordability in American architecture, flattening typological and class distinctions. At the same time, its adaptability offers expansive design potential and continued relevance today. American Framing also contextualizes this architectural form within the environments, people, and labor that make it possible.

The exhibitions and publication will include:

  • Site-specific installations designed by Andersen and Preissner;
  • Furniture designed by UIC students in collaboration with UIC School of Architecture faculty, including Clinical Assistant Professor Ania Jaworska; Assistant Professor Thomas Kelley, co-founder of Norman Kelley; and his design partner Carrie Norman;
  • Commissioned photography series by UIC alumnus Daniel Shea and Chris Strong;
  • Scale models created by UIC students during seminars led by Andersen and Preissner in 2021 and 2022; and
  • New scholarship alongside a comprehensive compilation of relevant archival materials.

American Framing in all its forms represents our faculty’s research excellence and reflects our growing international reputation. We’re thrilled at the opportunity not only to showcase the breadth and depth of our faculty and alumni talent, but also to provide our students with hands-on experience through their contributions to the fabrication of models and furniture design,” said Rebecca Rugg, Dean of the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts at the University of Illinois Chicago.

More details on the forthcoming exhibitions and publication follow below.



May 6 – July 16, 2022
Address: 659 W. Wrightwood, Chicago, IL 60614
Media Preview: May 6, 11 a.m.
Open Hours: Fridays, 12-7 p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. Advance tickets required.

Marking the first presentation of American Framing in the United States, the exhibition at Wrightwood 659 expands upon the works created for the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. A new three-story installation in Wrightwood 659’s atrium introduces visitors to this quintessential architectural form and anchors the exhibition with an abstraction of a wood-framed building, exaggerating the form and inverting the roof. The galleries feature models of historic buildings researched and built by UIC students, including structures that were unable to be realized for the Venice presentation due to their size and complexity. The exhibition also includes commissioned photographs by Chris Strong and Daniel Shea—including never-before-exhibited works by Shea—as well as furniture produced in common lumber by Norman Kelley and Ania Jaworska.

Wrightwood 659 is a private, non-collecting institution devoted to socially engaged art and to architecture. Located at 659 W. Wrightwood Avenue, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, the intimate space was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, who transformed the interior of a 1920s building with his signature concrete forms and poetic treatment of natural light. Since its inauguration on October 10, 2018, Wrightwood 659 has presented two exhibitions annually, Fall/Winter and Spring/Summer, including, most recently, Romanticism to Ruin: Two Lost Works of Sullivan and Wright and Yannis Tsarouchis: Dancing in Real Life.

American Framing is presented at Wrightwood 659 by Alphawood Exhibitions in cooperation with the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC).



April 28 – June 24, 2022
Address: Betlémské náměstí 5a, 110 00 Prague, Czechia
Open Hours: Tuesday-Sunday: 11 a.m.-7 p.m.

Extending the project’s impact in Europe, American Framing at Galerie Jaroslava Fragnera will bring together key components of the original presentation at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, including photography by Chris Strong and Daniel Shea and scale models created by UIC students, alongside a new site-specific installation of wood framing outside of the gallery. The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of additional outreach programs both at the gallery and at universities and educational centers across the city.

The Galerie Jaroslava Fragnera (GJF) is located in the historic center of Prague and is one of the few galleries in the Czech Republic devoted solely to the presentation of architecture. With a tradition going back more than fifty years, the GJF regularly exhibits works by Czech, European, and global architects, especially those representing progressive middle and new generation studios. The gallery also boasts a long tradition of cooperation with a number of European architectural art galleries, centers and educational institutions.

The presentation of American Framing at Galerie Jaroslava Fragnera is made possible by The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.



Summer/Fall 2022

Park Books

The book American Framing: The Same Something for Everyone encapsulates the Pavilion of the United States for the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia and expands upon the archival and scholarly resources of the project. The publication is a visual and textual exploration of the conditions and consequences of wood framing and sheds new light on this quintessentially American method of construction. Richly illustrated by a comprehensive archive of historical images of wood framing, commissioned photography by Daniel Shea and Chris Strong, and plans, drawings, and photography of the presentation in Venice, the text includes original essays by UIC Faculty Paul Preissner, Paul Andersen, and Penelope Dean, and the architect and curator Dan Handel as well as narratives connecting wood framing to popular culture and reprints of notable articles on the architectural form.



As the only public research university in the Chicago area, the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) is committed to providing first-class education as a public good through a rare combination of research excellence and access to higher education. UIC offers 86 undergraduate and 177 graduate academic degree programs across 16 colleges to more than 34,000 students, who are among the most demographically diverse in the United States. Nearly 40% of undergraduates are first generation college students, and 60% are eligible for federal Pell grants awarded to students with exceptional financial need. UIC is also ranked among the top Research 1 universities, with Annual Research Expenditures of $446 million in fiscal year 2021. UIC was selected as the commissioning institution for the Pavilion of the United States at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia.

As the home of the arts and design at UIC, the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts (CADA) is one of the most dynamic learning and research environments in the United States. Across its 70-year history, CADA has evolved to become a leader among academic programs in architecture, art, art history, design, museum studies, music, and theatre. CADA leverages its location in Chicago, a global destination for the arts and design, through in-situ learning, practice, and relationships with significant cultural institutions, including the Art Institute of Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. CADA offers 16 undergraduate degree programs and 9 graduate degree programs, including a Master of Architecture, that provide specialized disciplinary education in the arts and design within the broader context of liberal arts courses offered by UIC. Notable CADA faculty include actor Yasen Peyankov, filmmakers Deborah Stratman and Jennifer Reeder, graphic designer Marcia Lausen, art historian Hannah Higgins, architectural theorist Robert E. Somol, and architect Sam Jacob, among many others.


Image: Addition to the Pavilion of the United States. Courtesy the Pavilion of the United States at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition at LaBiennale di Venezia.