Sonia Hirt

Title/Position:  Associate Professor
Virginia Tech
   Ph.D., University of Michigan

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

Background: Sonia Hirt's focus as a scholar and teacher is on exploring the complex social meanings of the urban built environment. She aspires to help enhance the quality of urban environments first by developing a richer understanding of the social processes and cultural values that influence their evolution, and second by provoking critical debates within the urban planning profession. In this sense, her work has both a theoretical and an applied perspective—Hirt aims to further understanding of the relationship between social processes, cultural values and urban forms, but also aims to create opportunities to reform urban structures and improve urban life. Hirt is an Associate Professor in Urban Affairs and Planning at the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech, where she teaches planning history and theory. She also serves as a Visiting Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Design of Harvard University, where she teaches Urbanism in Europe. Hirt's research focuses on the relationship between culture and the built environment. She has also published extensively on urbanism in post-socialist Eurasia. She is the author (with K. Stanilov) of Twenty Years of Transition: The Evolution of Urban Planning in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, 1989-2009 (UN-Habitat, 2009). Her research has been funded by organizations such as the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Association of University Women and the National Endowment for the Humanities

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