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 Daniel Shea and Chris Strong, in addition to plans and drawings, shed new light on this quintessentially American method of construction.