American Framing
The Same Something for Everyone
Paul Andersen, Jayne Kelley, Paul Preissner


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Balloon Framing: The typical American construction method is capable of blurring the boundaries within America’s socially and economically deeply divided society as well as the differences between building typologies.

Architecture, Theory / History / Criticism
Originating in 1832 in Chicago with a balloon framed warehouse designed by George Washington Snow, the technique of timber framing introduced softwood construction to the world. Timber frame construction quickly came to dominate the built landscape of America because of the ready availability of the principal material required, the simplicity of construction, and its ability to be erected by low or unskilled workers. The result was a built environment that erased typological and class distinctions of architectural production, as both rich and poor lived in houses that are built the same way. American Framing is a visual and textual exploration of the conditions and consequences of these ubiquitous structures, the architecture which enables architecture. Archival drawings and historical images, along with newly commissioned photographs by Linda Robbennolt, Daniel Shea, and Chris Strong, in addition to plans and drawings, shed new light on this quintessentially American method of construction.

Paul Andersen is the director of Independent Architecture, a Denver-based office with projects that speculate on the roles that form, repetition, and pop culture play in architecture.
Jayne Kelley is an editor and writer based in Chicago and currently visiting assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture.
Paul Preissner is the principal of Paul Preissner Architects in Oak Park, Illinois, and an associate professor of architecture at University of Illinois at Chicago.


100 color, 30 b/w 

136 pages, 130 illustrations
Paperback, 21x30 cm
Park Books, 1st edition 2021
ISBN 9783038601951