After debuting in Venice, American Framing travels to Prague and Chicago’s Wrightwood 659

American framean exhibition commissioned by the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) that premiered in the United States Pavilion during the 2021 Venice Architecture Biennale, is hitting the road.

As just announced by UIC, the exhibition co-curated by Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner exploring the formidable (but also largely overlooked) role of wood-frame construction in American architecture will make its US debut at Wrightwood 659, an exhibition space designed by Tadao Ando that debuted in 2018 in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Open May 6 and on view through July 16, the exhibit will feature a newly designed site-specific installation by Andersen and Preissner that will be performed in the atrium of Wrightwood 659.

According to a press release, the three-story installation will introduce visitors to “this quintessential architectural form” while anchoring the exhibit with “an abstraction of a wood-framed building, exaggerating the form and inverting the roof.” In addition to the burgeoning installation, the exhibit will also feature scale models of historic wood-frame buildings studied and built by UIC students. According to the UIC, these models include structures too large or too complex to be made in the American pavilion of the Biennale. Also on display will be photographs commissioned by UIC alumni Chris Strong and Daniel Shea, as well as domestic wood furniture designed by UIC students in collaboration with Ania JaworskaClinical Assistant Professor at the UIC School of Architecture, as well as Norman Kelley, a Chicago and New Orleans-based architecture and design collaboration led by UIC Assistant Professor Thomas Kelley and Carrie Norman .

“The wooden frame is the great forgotten basis of American architecture. It is especially exciting to bring this project to our audience here in Chicago while continuing to raise awareness for this form of construction that is often dismissed or ignored around the world,” said Preissner, a UIC professor who, as mentioned, was co – curator of American frame alongside fellow UIC faculty member Andersen. He is also the founder of the self-proclaimed “pretty good” practice in the Chicago area. Paul Preissner Architects.

In addition to his homecoming at Woodwood 659, American frame will also be relocated to Jaroslava Fragnera Galleryan architecture-focused gallery in Prague, for a simultaneous exhibition from April 28 to June 24. As detailed by the UIC, this iteration of American frame will bring together key elements from the original presentation in Venice, including student-built models and photographs by Strong and Shea. A new site-specific installation will also be built outside the gallery space in the historic heart of the Czech capital. A series of outreach educational programs held at the Jaroslava Fragnera Gallery and a number of universities and other learning centers will also be launched to complement the revamped exhibition.

Also, a book called American Framing: the same something for everyone Also slated for release by Park Books in June.

As the UIC notes in its press release:

“The publication is a visual and textual exploration of the conditions and consequences of timber framing and sheds new light on this quintessentially American construction method. Richly illustrated with a comprehensive archive of historic timber frame images, photographs commissioned by Daniel Shea and Chris Strong, as well as plans, drawings and photographs of the presentation in Venice, the text includes original essays by the UIC faculty Paul Preissner, Paul Andersen and Penelope Dean, and architect and curator Dan Handel as well as stories linking timber framing to popular culture and reprints of notable articles on architectural form.

“As practicing educators and architects, Paul and I often explore how ordinary architecture could be a platform for new ideas and new discourses,” said Andersen, who in addition to his role as a teacher UIC Clinical Fellow, is director of Denver- and Chicago-based practice Independent Architecture. “By extending this project with new presentations, American Management continues to expand our understanding of the history, significance and possibilities of timber framing.

The details of the Chicago and Prague exhibitions are as follows:

American frame to Wright Wood 659presented by Alphawood Exhibitions in cooperation with the University of Illinois at Chicago.

From May 6 to July 16, 2022
659 W. Wrightwood, Chicago, IL 60614
Opening hours: Fridays from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Advance tickets required.

American frame to Jaroslava Fragnera Gallerymade possible by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State.

April 28 – June 24, 2022
Betlémské náměstí 5a, 110 00 Prague, Czechia
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Berta D. Wells