In my area, and of the venacular thereof, pier and beam foundation construction means "concrete" piers and beams. This is very common in areas with poor bearing capacities. The piers are taken down to a good substrate, and the beams (also concrete "grade" beams) are poured across the top. You end up with either a crawl space under your house, or you could have a full basement if you wanted. What Henry describes is not this type of construction, and in our area, of sub zero temperatures, having piers holding your floor above grade without the benefit of a perimeter wall to inclose things is not good.
If you are looking for a compromise, you might investigate "treated wood foundations".These are quite good and utilize a treated material much better than the type you see rotting out under your neighbor's rear deck. The advantage is obvious, you can use wood assemblies and still have your basement or crawl space condition. And, and I emphasize "and", if you oneed it on piers, they have a method by which you can frame your foundation to them also.
If Jay Y gets to this post, he will probably have a web site for you. I know that there is a national organization that will provide you with the specifications for like two dollars if you ask them.
Gotta go coach basketball with the ten year old. Hope this is good additional information.