Skip to content

Paola Aguirre


Paola Aguirre Serrano is a native from the Mexico-U.S. region, urban designer and partner at BORDERLESS since 2016. Paola has been trained as an architect and urban designer, and her professional experience includes working with government, universities and architecture/urban design offices both
in Mexico and the United States.

Paola is an active civic design steward. She has served as Commissioner of Chicago Landmarks and the Cultural Advisory Council of the City of Chicago, and currently serves in the Scholarly Advisory Committee for the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Latino. Paola received a B. of Architecture from the Institute Superior de Arquitectura y Diseño de Chihuahua, and M. of Architecture in Urban Design from the Harvard School of Design. 

Paola actively participates with academic institutions, and has been guest speaker and reviewer with design studios in University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Illinois Institute of Technology, Archeworks (Chicago), University of Texas (Austin), Arizona State University (Tempe), University of Tennessee (Knoxville), and Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (Querétaro, Monterrey and Chihuahua). Paola currently teaches at The University of Texas San Antonio, and has taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Sam Fox School of Design at Washington University in St. Louis, and the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture and Design in Columbus, IN. She also enjoys documenting and writing about urban research, explorations and experiences, and has contributed with pieces to Next City, Scapegoat Journal, MAS Context, and Arquine.

She is also co-founder of City Open Workshop, Design Trust Chicago, and the Borderless Workshop – a research and collaborative platform focused on rethinking cities among the US-Mexico border region. On that front, she is the creator-producer of Mapeo Workshops that work with multiple universities and students from different programs to research, critically discuss and creatively think about urban challenges using mapping as a main tool. Mapeo works with students, instructors, community members, and guest experts to create conversations, exchange knowledge and ideas through an intense boot-camp format.

She’s been acknowledged by Next City Vanguard’s 40 Under 40 (2016), Impact Design Hub’s 40 Under 40 (2017), Newcity Design 50: Who Shapes Chicago (2018, 2020), Emerging Planner Award by the American Planning Association – Illinois Chapter (2018), Field Foundation Civic Leader for Racial Equity (2019), Chicago United for Equity Fellow (2019), AIA Chicago’s Distinguished Service Award (2020). Her work at Borderless’ has been recently recognized by The Architecture League of New York with the Emerging Voices Award (2022), and the John and Catherine MacArthur Foundation’s Creative Placemaking Award (2022).