Paola Aguirre on Design with, not for

On February 27th, as part of the 2023 Spring Urbanism Lecture series, co-hosted by the City Design & Development Program (CDD), SMArchS Urbanism Program, and Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism at MIT, Paola Aguirre from Borderless shared her work on Design with, not for.

Paola Aguirre is the founder of Borderless, urban design and research practice based in Chicago. 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.

She is also founder of 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.

Paola actively participates with academic institutions, and has been guest reviewer to 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 School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and has taught at Washington University in St. Louis and Archeworks. 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 has been acknowledged by Next City Vanguard’s 40 Under 40 (2016), Impact Design Hub’s 40 Under 40 (2017), and Newcity Design 50: Who Shapes Chicago (2018).

​By Sylvia Jimenez, Norman B (1938). and Muriel Leventhal Fellow, MIT Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism.

Chicago Extra-Large, Borderless Studio [Credit: Ben Kolak]



Norman B. Leventhal Center for Advanced Urbanism

Research center focused on the design and planning of large-scale, complex, future metropolitan environments.