American Framing

American Framing

The Same Something for Everyone

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.



Title Information

Edited by Paul Andersen, Jayne Kelley, Paul Preissner

1st edition

, 2023


252 pages, 159 color and 70 b/w illustrations

21 x 30 cm

ISBN 978-3-03860-195-1


Originating in 1832 in Chicago with a balloon framed warehouse designed by George Washington Snow, the technique of timber framing—also known at the time as “Chicago construction”—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.

Authors & Editors