Walking the Blue Line


Lake Michigan. © Paola Aguirre and Dennis Milam.


Project by Paola Aguirre and Dennis Milam


What does a mile mean? We asked ourselves this question as we took on this exercise. As of today, for us, it means 1,164 photographs; it means 1,760 steps; it means 120 minutes.

Walking the Blue Line is a systematic recording of the shoreline of Lake Michigan; where the water meets the land (or concrete, as is the case with the first walk).

This recording process has very simple rules:

1. Take a photograph every 9 feet,
2. at eye level,
3. perpendicular to the line followed,
4. documenting both sides of the edge condition.

Our starting point is Chicago’s lakefront, Madison Street as the north/south. As we question the value of this recording, so far we are concerned with the idea of a system that can be recreated by anyone, anywhere.



Aerial map of Chicago locating Madison Street. © Paola Aguirre and Dennis Milam / Google Earth.


As digital media becomes the strongest communication tool of our time, sharing images from any given place has become highly relevant. Everyone wants to know how does it look “being” there. That is the success of the Google Maps phenomena. Nevertheless, Google Maps is only done from the street. Maybe it is time to figure out the next step. How to record systematically relevant spaces that are limited to vehicle access? Or maybe this is jus a new excuse for large-scale collaborative projects, and to engage people to walking this line.

Lake Michigan has a 1,638-mile shoreline. That means 1,906,632 images to collect.

I think we have a project.











Paola Aguirre hold’s a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design, and currently works at the City Design Studio at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP in Chicago. Paola founded The Borderless Workshop (2011) which focuses on cities within border regions to further the understanding of the border condition.
theborderlessworkshop.tumblr.com | fromtheshore.org

Dennis Milam is a design professional currently working with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP in Chicago, IL. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning and has previously practiced with Coop-Himmelb(l)au and Emergent Architects.
dennismilam.net | fromtheshore.org

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