Saundra Little, FAIA, LEED AP, NOMA, a principal and the Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Quinn Evans, presented updates on the progression of the Blue Bird Inn renewal at the 2023 American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) National Conference on Architecture in June.
The project is a 2022 AIA Small Project Design (SPD) grant recipient and was presented as an SPD Forum session at the conference. Lindsay Schach, AIA, chair of the SPD Knowledge Community, shared a recap in the most recent AIA SPD newsletter, which featured recent SPD awardees and highlighted the significance of the SPD grant in supporting the Blue Bird Inn project.
Saundra related the vital history of the building and its place in Detroit’s rich history as ‘a birthplace of bebop jazz music’. The SPD Grant supported Quinn Evans in serving this important community, ensuring a successful project for the firm and the neighborhood.
- Lindsay Schack, AIA, Chair, 2023 Small Project Design Knowledge Community
The Blue Bird Inn was once the quintessential venue for jazz music in Detroit and symbolizes the city’s importance in music history. Musicians including leaders in modern jazz such as Charlie Parker and Miles Davis played at the club regularly in the 1950s, and local musicians such as drummer Roy Brooks and saxophonist Wendell Harrison apprenticed there.
The legendary landmark also served as a key hub for Black life and culture for the city of Detroit throughout the 20th century. During the Civil Rights era, the club was a community entity where Black workers and their families could engage with each other as well as enjoy live performances.
The Blue Bird Inn closed to the public in the early 2000s and remained vacant until the Detroit Sound Conservancy purchased it from the city of Detroit in 2019. The Conservancy has been actively fundraising and securing resources for the building’s rehabilitation since then. It envisions the space as an intergenerational, collaborative arts and gathering space revitalized to meet modern organizational and community needs.
Saundra serves as the lead project architect. We completed construction documentation in early 2023 and are looking forward to seeing the building reopen as a publicly accessible music archive and cultural heritage center.