Thursday, May 19, 2022

Person with shoulder-length dark hair wearing a black shirt and gray blazer, arms crossed.

Americans for the Arts today announced that urban designer Paola Aguirre Serrano has been awarded the 2022 Jorge and Darlene Pérez Prize in Public Art & Civic Design. A first-of-its-kind national recognition program established by the Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation, the prize includes a cash stipend of $30,000 plus opportunities for Aguirre Serrano to participate in discussions about her work with national leaders in the arts and other allied fields.

Aguirre Serrano, a native of Chihuahua, Mexico, was trained as an architect in Mexico and as an urban designer in the United States. She has practiced professionally for nearly 15 years, working with government agencies, academic institutions, private design offices, and community organizations. The foundation of her work comes from her earliest professional experiences in Chihuahua, working in an urban planning public agency with public officials, urban planners, social workers, and community organizers to design processes through which the end product could better connect with the communities being served.

In 2016, Aguirre Serrano founded Borderless Studio in Chicago and expanded in 2021 to San Antonio. The urban design and research practice is committed to both connecting communities with design processes and envisioning creative ways to invest in spatial justice and equitable spaces. Borderless Studio is built on the values of generosity, empathy, and service and aims to create collaborative city design interventions that address the complexity of urban systems and social equity. Through their work, Aguirre Serrano and her team seek to bring visibility to the impact that segregation and racism have had on communities of color. Examples include projects like Creative Grounds, which explores the community and urban role of school grounds and was sparked by the closure of 45 public schools in Chicago over the past nine years, the largest closure of public schools in the city’s history.

Aguirre Serrano is an active educator 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, Indiana. She has served as Commissioner of Chicago Landmarks and has sat on the Cultural Advisory Council of the City of Chicago. Aguirre Serrano currently serves on the Scholarly Advisory Committee for the National Museum of the American Latino.

Nolen V. Bivens, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, commented, “Paola Aguirre Serrano’s work adds deep and meaningful dimension to our human experience of the built environment. She believes that confronting the complex issues facing communities today requires an understanding of architecture, urbanism, landscape design, planning, and civic participatory processes, and her impact on communities has been tremendous, particularly in how she prioritizes working with organizations and groups that are working with or located in communities of color. I congratulate Paola for this well-deserved recognition.”

“Supporting programs that improve access to the arts in underserved communities and empower creatives to pursue their artistry on a broader scale is at the core of our mission,” said Jorge M. Pérez, a globally recognized collector and philanthropist and one of the nation’s top real estate developers. “Paola has demonstrated an extraordinary dedication to bolstering art in various communities to inspire positive change across key social issues, and we’re excited that this award will allow her to continue making an impact.”

The generous gift of $250,000 from The Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation established the Pérez Prize in Public Art & Civic Design program, which bears the names of internationally recognized philanthropists, Jorge M. Pérez and his wife, Darlene Boytell-Pérez. The program is designed to empower all stakeholders in the public art process and to create a platform to develop greater national visibility and appreciation of the unique role that the arts play in shaping our experience of the built environment. It also seeks to celebrate and highlight the work and contributions of artists, public art administrators, and representatives from the civic design field who support, develop, and manage the incorporation of art into the design of places and spaces across the United States.


Americans for the Arts is a nonprofit organization that advances the arts and arts education advocacy in America. Based in Washington, D.C., it has a record of more than 60 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for everyone to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at

The Jorge M. Pérez Family Foundation at The Miami Foundation fulfills the philanthropic vision of Jorge M. Pérez, chairman and CEO of The Related Group, and his family to develop South Florida as an exemplary world-class urban center. The family foundation promotes sustainable, inclusive and just communities by supporting programs and organizations focused on arts and culture, health and well-being, education, environment and economic development – with a particular preference for programs and organizations that could serve as models for other urban centers. For more information, please visit