God is in the Detail – Paul Preissner: The American Superficial – PART 9/12

Architecture tends to focus on the exotic at the expense of the ordinary. In the case of wood framing, the lack of disciplinary prestige comes from the exact same characteristics that make it so prevalent: it’s cheap and easy. This quality has enabled framing to become the predominant structure underneath the American built landscape. You cannot buy a better (or worse) 2×4. There is only one kind. It is this fundamental sameness which paradoxically underlies the American culture of individuality, flattening all our superficial differences and exposing the boundless narcissism of which we spend our money on to imagine ourselves as all different.

Paul Preissner is an architect and teacher. He runs Paul Preissner Architects, which is located in Oak Park, and he and Paul Andersen are the commissioners and curators of the Pavilion of the United States at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – la Biennale di Venezia. Paul is the author of Kind of Boring: Canonical Work and Other Visible Things Meant to Be Viewed as Architecture, to be published this fall by Actar.




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