Raising the House

Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner selected for 2020 U.S. Pavilion

UIC professors Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner will curate the U.S. Pavilion in Venice next year. (Courtesy AMERICAN FRAMING)

Paul Andersen and Paul Preissner of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) are slated to co-curate the U.S. Pavilion for the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale next year. The U.S. Department of State announced this weekend that the duo intends to recontextualize the 1930-era U.S. Pavilion building in a new work entitled AMERICAN FRAMING.

Ninety years ago, architects William Adams Delano and Chester Holmes Aldrich served as the chosen organizers of the U.S. Pavilion for the 1930 edition of the international festival. Together they designed the now-famous neo-Palladian building that has long-housed the American exhibition, with its signature entry rotunda and two wings holding four galleries. 

In response to artistic director Hashim Sarkis’ main theme for the 2020 showcase, How will we live together?, Andersen and Preissner aim to build out a similarly bold inner pavilion that represents the ubiquitous wood-framed domestic architecture across modern America. Their vision for AMERICAN FRAMING will explore the “conditions and consequences” of wood-framed construction in the United States’ building economy. 

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Omaha Reservation, Nebraska, 1877. photo by William H Jackson #americanframing

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Both curators have extensive backgrounds in practice as well as teaching and curating. Andersen is the founder of the Denver-based studio Independent Architecture and a clinical associate professor at UIC. He previously served as guest curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Denver and at the Biennial of the Americas. Preissner is currently teaching at Columbia University’s GSAPP this fall but regularly works as an associate professor at UIC as well. In Chicago, Preissner dually operates his eponymous Chicago firm, Paul Preissner Architects. Andersen and Preissner have collaborated together before, most recently on an installation at the 2017 Chicago Architecture Biennale entitled Five Rooms, comprised of freestanding, glazed-tile walls. 

The Venice Architecture Biennale will run from May 23, 2020, through November 29, 2020.

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