Publication

  • Flat Out
    Penelope Dean
    Editor
    Flat Out, 2018
  • GRANTEE
    Flat Out
    GRANT YEAR
    2017

Illustrator Tom Bachtell's Flat Out personas (above) meet his New Yorker "characters" (below) in Bachtell's studio, 2017, Chicago. Photo: James Goggin.

Flat Out is an independent print magazine that enacts multiple genres of architectural criticism through fifteen recurring, fictitious characters. These characters are positioned to produce surprising points of view and expand the range and terms of critical writing for architecture. In each issue readers will find a series of columns—essays, exposés, memoirs, letters, pitches, illustrations, conversations, vignettes, and polemics—authored by a rotating cast of undercover writers and designers. Character portraits by a different artist are commissioned for every issue. Published twice a year, Flat Out takes its time as fast as it can, providing distance from the present tense. We invite the brave, the curious, and the skeptical alike—architects, artists, critics, curators, designers, illustrators, journalists, scholars, students, and lovers of design culture in general—to participate in untimely dialogues across diverse positions and personalities in order to expand the audience and effects of architectural criticism.

Penelope Dean is associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Architecture, where she serves as coordinator of the Master’s of Arts in Design Criticism Program. Her research focuses on contemporary architectural culture with an emphasis on the exchanges between architecture and the allied design fields. Dean's writings have appeared in Architectural Design, Journal of Architectural Education, Harvard Design Magazine, Log, hunch, Praxis, and Flat Out, and her work supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and a visiting scholar’s residency at the Canadian Centre for Architecture Montreal. She received her PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles, in critical studies of architectural culture, and previously worked as an architect for the Dutch office MVRDV, serving in various editorial capacities for hunch, Content, KM3, and Crib Sheets. She is founding editor of Flat Out and serves on its editorial board.

James Goggin is a graphic designer and educator from London via Sydney, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Auckland, Arnhem, and Chicago. He received his MA in graphic design from the Royal College of Art and founded his design practice in London upon graduation in 1999. He is on the faculty of the BFA and MFA graphic design programs at Rhode Island School of Design. He is currently art director and editorial board member of Flat Out, and previously worked as consultant to Tate Modern and Tate Britain; art director of the avant-garde British music magazine The Wire; and director of design and publishing at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. He previously taught at Werkplaats Typografie in Arnhem, the Netherlands, and at Ecole cantonale d'art de Lausanne (ECAL) in Switzerland. He contributes writing to a range of international publications and journals, and is a member of Alliance Graphique Internationale.

Zehra Ahmed is content and copy editor of Flat Out. Previously she was visiting assistant professor at the UIC School of Architecture, where she taught architectural theory and history. Her work focuses on the intersection of architecture, economics, and politics—an approach that mines relations between the discipline and its surrounding institutions. She is coeditor of the publication Crown Hall Dean’s Dialogues 20122017. She holds a joint MArch and MA in design criticism degree from UIC, and a BA in economics from the University of Chicago. In fall 2017, she will begin her studies as a doctoral candidate at Princeton University.

Ellen Grimes is associate professor of architecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and editor-at-large at Flat Out. She worked with Bruce Mau Design, Garofalo Architects, DLK, and Greg Lynn Form, and is a principal in FlohrGrimes. Her writing and editorial work have appeared in Bowling, Flat Out, Log, the Journal of Architectural Education, and Content. She was awarded the Van Allen Institute's New York Prize for Public Ecologies and holds an MArch from the University of Illinois at Chicago, as well as an MBA and BA from the University of Chicago.

R. E. Somol has been director of UIC’s School of Architecture since 2007. A design critic and theorist, he is the editor of Autonomy and Ideology and has served on the editorial boards of Any and Log. His writings have appeared in publications ranging from Assemblage to Wired, and will appear in his collection of essays, Nothing to Declare. In 2015, Somol was named a fellow at UIC's Institute for the Humanities, where he will complete his book manuscript, This Will Cover That: Writing and Building from the Death of Corbusier to the End of Architecture. He has also served as the Baumer Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Ohio State University.

Lauren Van Damme is managing editor of Flat Out. Previously she was assistant director of the UIC School of Architecture, where she served on various committees including the Proposal Design Committee for the UIC/North Lawndale bid for the Obama Presidential Library. Prior to UIC, Van Damme was the public programs coordinator at the Chicago Architecture Foundation, and worked in the Fine Arts Program of the US General Services Administration in Washington, DC. She is coeditor of Preserve and Play National Conference Proceedings, and a/X volumes 3 and 4. She holds a BA in art history from Boston University and an MA in american studies from the George Washington University.

The mission of Flat Out Inc. (incorporated in 2009) is organized exclusively for literary and educational purposes and conforms to section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Its mission is to expand dialogues about contemporary architecture and design culture in America's Midwest and beyond through publishing the magazine Flat Out. The magazine seeks to reimagine the possibilities and stakes of contemporary architectural criticism through the highest level of writing and graphic design. It aims to increase public understanding of architecture and design culture through a collection of essays, letters, conversations, illustrations, and pitches. It is distributed to the general public nationally and internationally twice per year in spring and fall through online and bookstore sales.