21 Apr Sonia Hirt wins 2015 Best Book in Urban Affairs Award – Honorable Mention

SoniaAwardThe Urban Affairs Association (UAA), the international professional association for urban scholars, researchers and public service professionals, convened its 45th Annual Conference in Miami, Florida – April 8-11, 2015. Over 900 participants, representing universities, research institutions, nonprofit organizations, and public and private organizations/institutions from around the world met to discuss 21st century issues impacting urban populations and places. Conference participants represented institutions from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Florida International University served as the local sponsor for the event.

During the conference, awards were presented in recognition of outstanding scholarship and service. Among those honored was Sonia Hirt, associate dean and professor in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies. Hirt was awarded the 2015 Best Book in Urban Affairs Honorable Mention Award. Forty-one books were nominated for the Best Book in Urban Affairs Award this year. The authors of these books represented several different disciplines and a variety of urban topics.

For honorable mention, the committee selected Sonia Hirt’s Zoned in the USA: The Origins and Implications of American Land-Use Regulation, Cornell University Press. This book seeks to answer the question: How is it that freedom-loving Americans, who have almost continuously throughout their history, been suspicious of government regulations, have in place the most detailed, constraining, ubiquitous regulatory land use system in the world, especially where detached single family homes are concerned? the committee stated, “We thought that Prof. Hirt, through a detailed and creative historical and comparative analysis, answers that question thoroughly. We learn, for example, that the US is the only country of those surveyed with a planning system that is purely local or that forbids other uses in single-family districts. Prof. Hirt, we thought, quite successfully explains this American exceptionalism. And for that explanation, you have to buy the book.”

Sonia A. Hirt is a Professor in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech, where she also serves as Associate Dean. She holds doctoral and master’s degrees from the Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, and architectural diploma from the University of Architecture in Sofia, Bulgaria. She currently serves on the Board of Governors of the Taubman College. During her sabbatical, Hirt was a Visiting Associate Professor at the Graduate School of Design of Harvard University, where she taught Urbanism in Europe and served as design critic. Hirt has over sixty publications in the history and theory of urban form, urban design and urban planning. Hirt is the author of Zoned in the USA: The Origins and Implications of American Land-Use Regulations (Cornell University Press, 2014); Iron Curtains: Gates, Suburbs and Privatization of Space in the Postsocialist City (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012); and Twenty Years of Transition: The Evolution of Urban Planning in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union, 1989-2009 (UN-HABITAT, 2009, with K. Stanilov). Iron Curtains received the Honorable Mention for the 2013 Book Prize in Political and Social Studies sponsored by Harvard University’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

The award committee included Chair Nico Calavita (San Diego State University); Colleen Casey (University of Texas – Arlington); Michael Glass (University of Pittsburgh); Kevin Keenen (College of Charleston); Myron Levine (Wright State University); Elizabeth Mueller (University of Texas – Austin); Anne Wessels (University of Washington – Tacoma).