Little is an award-winning architect and advocate for the revitalization of the urban realm, with a focus on creating equitable communities. She has played a leading role in promoting design as a critical component in the rebirth of Detroit, and served as the only architectural representative on the Design Core Advisory Board that was instrumental in nominating and naming Detroit as a UNESCO City of Design.
Little is a founding member of the Detroit Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), where she has been a continuous board member and held numerous leadership positions since 2007, including NOMA National Midwest vice president and Detroit NOMA Chapter president. She has leveraged her skills as a researcher, historian, engagement expert, and community activist to highlight the stories, contributions, and influence of Black architects in Detroit. Little has documented the professional journeys and creative works of Black architects across the city through a range of events and media experiences, including lectures, tours, web communications, and social media.
Little has also focused much of her career on mentorship and introducing young minorities to the architectural profession. Over the past seven years she has helped more than 200 Black students at the middle school, high school, and college levels explore the architectural field through paid internships, mentoring programs, career fairs, and community forums, as well as the establishment of the NOMA Detroit Project Pipeline student camp programs.
Little has planned and designed many notable projects in Detroit and throughout the Midwest. She led a collaborative team to document and honor sites associated with the Black civil rights movement in Detroit, a part of the National Park Service’s efforts to provide a more inclusive interpretation of American history. She served as architect and community engagement specialist for an inclusive master plan for the Warrendale Cody Rouge Neighborhood, also in Detroit.
In Hamtramck, Michigan, she led the creation of a plan for an underutilized recreation district that leverages the significance of the Negro National League history in the area and will help celebrate the area’s multicultural heritage. Little also helped lead the transformation of the former Fiberglas Tower in Toledo, Ohio, into a mixed-use office and residential building now known as the Tower on the Maumee. Other adaptive use projects under her direction include 139 Cadillac Square in Detroit, which transformed a ten-story office building into a mixed-use residential and retail structure; and the Crapo Building, which revitalized the historic Legacy building in downtown Bay City, Michigan.
Little holds a Master of Architecture (1998) and a B.S. in Architecture and Design (1994) from Lawrence Technological University. She is a member of the AIA, NOMA, the New Step CDC Board of Directors, and the Design Core Detroit Advisory Board. Her leadership within the AIA has included serving as a board member with AIA Detroit and participating on numerous committees.
“Few architects have had the kind of impact on their communities and their profession that Saundra Little has,” says Alyson Steele, FAIA, LEED AP, executive vice president and chief design officer for Quinn Evans. “Her equity-focused career has fostered diversity within Detroit’s architectural community and created new opportunities for minority architects. Within Quinn Evans and throughout our industry, Saundra has served as a role model for advocacy, activism, mentorship, and design excellence.”