Sonia Hirt

Title/Position:  Dean and Professor
School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at the University of Maryland
Degree(s)/School(s):   Ph.D., University of Michigan

MCRI Projects: A2: Governance; B1: New Suburban Forms; C3: Europe Research Cluster.

Background: Sonia Hirt is dean and professor at the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at the University of Maryland. Her focus as a researcher and educator is on the interactions between social and cultural values and the urban built environment. Through her scholarship, she aims to advance understanding of the relationships between social processes, cultural values and urban forms, and to create opportunities to make cities more equitable, beautiful and sustainable. Her scholarship has both a theoretical and an applied perspective. She strives to enhance the quality of urban environments by developing a richer theoretical understanding of the social processes and cultural values that influence their evolution. She also strives to provoke critical debates within the built-environment professions and thus contribute to innovation in practice.

Sonia is the author/editor of over 70 publications.  Her 2012 book, Iron Curtains: Gates, Suburbs and Privatization of Space in the Post-socialist City, received the Honorable Mention for the annual Book Prize in Political and Social Studies, sponsored by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University.  Her 2015 book, Zoned in the USA: The Origins and Implications of American Land-Use Regulation, received the Honorable Mention for the biennial Best Book Award of the Urban Affairs Association.  It was also named one of the Ten Best Books in urban planning, design and development of 2015 by Planetizen and was included in the list of Outstanding Academic Titles of 2015 by Choice Magazine.  In 2016, Zoned received the biennial John Friedmann Best Book Award by the Association of Collegiate School of Planning. Sonia is the lead editor of The Urban Wisdom of Jane Jacobs (2012, 2014), as well as co-editor of the Journal of Planning History.

Research Interests: Comparative urbanisms; Urban planning theory and history;  Post-socialist urbanism.

Selected Publications:

Hirt, Sonia and Kiril Stanilov. 2009. Twenty Years of Transition: The Evolution of Urban Planning in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, 1989-2009. Nairobi: United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT; 166 pages).

Hirt, Sonia and Mina Petrovic. 2011 (in press). The Belgrade Wall: The Proliferation of Gated Housing in the Serbian capital after Socialism. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 35.

Hirt, Sonia and Mina Petrovic. 2010. The Gates of Belgrade: Safety, Privacy and New Housing Patterns in the Post-communist City. Problems of Post-communism 57 (5): 3-19.

Hirt, Sonia. 2009. Pre-modern, Modern, Postmodern? Placing New Urbanism into a Historical Perspective. Journal of Planning History 8 (3): 248-273.

Hirt, Sonia. 2005. Toward Post-modern Urbanism: Evolution of Planning in Cleveland, Ohio. Journal of Planning Education and Research 25 (1): 27-42.

Hirt, Sonia. 2009. City Profile: Belgrade. Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning 26 (5): 293-303.

Hirt, Sonia. 2008. Landscapes of Post-modernity: Changes in the Built Fabric of Belgrade and Sofia since the End of Socialism. Urban Geography 29 (8): 785-809.

Hirt, Sonia. 2008. Stuck in the Suburbs? Gendered Perspectives of Living at the Edge of the Post-communist City. Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning 25 (6): 340-354.

Hirt, Sonia. 2007. Suburbanizing Sofia: Characteristics of Post-socialist Peri-urban Change. Urban Geography 28 (8): 755-780.

Hirt, Sonia and Andreas Luescher. 2007. Collaboration between Architects and Planners in an Urban Design Studio: Potential for Inter-disciplinary Learning. Journal of Design Research 6 (4): 422-443.

Hirt, Sonia. 2007. The Devil is in the Definitions: Contrasting American and German Approaches to Zoning. Journal of the American Planning Association 73 (4): 436-450.

Hirt, Sonia. 2007. The Mixed-use Trend: Planning Attitudes and Practices in Northeast Ohio. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research 24 (3): 224-244.

Hirt, Sonia. 2007. The Compact vs. the Dispersed City: History of Planning Debates on Sofia’s Urban Form. Journal of Planning History 6 (2): 138-165.

Hirt, Sonia. 2006. Post-socialist Urban Forms: Notes from Sofia. Urban Geography 27 (5): 464-488.

Hirt, Sonia. 2005. Planning the Post-communist City: Experiences from Sofia. International Planning Studies 10 (3/4): 219-240.


Hirt, Sonia. 2014. "Secession as Style: Change and Continuity in Post-socialist Residential Architecture".  Presented at the Annual Conference of the Association of Comparative Literature. New York, NY, March 2014