Thom White and his Magical Plot

Shannon stressing over her paper.

Shannon stressing over her paper. (Dave snapped this photo to tease me about my laptop set-up. My back was killing me; I had to stand!)

After the second day in a row of rigorous paper writing, I was delighted when our architect-neighbor Thom dropped in to say hello.

He brought a tin of coffee in thanks to Dave for sitting his pets. And his visit reminded me I’d wanted to post photos of The Plot he designed for downtown Norfolk.  It’s located on the unused but prominently located site-of-a-stalled-development project.

It was beautiful place to behold on the morning of the solstice, when Dave and I arrived in downtown Norfolk for breakfast with our friend Wayne Ringer.

Thom White is an up-and-coming young architect. (Yes, you heard me right. Young. Architects are considered young until they hit their 50s.)

Architects Thom White and Shannon Chance.

Architects Thom White and Shannon Chance.

Thom and his business partner, Mel Price, have been shaking up the design scene in Hampton Roads the past couple of years. (For all you out there who think I get my genders confused, Mel’s name appears to be short for Mary Ellen… and yes, Leslie Lee IS a man!)

Thom and Mel’s young firm, WPA, has been doing such great work – in addition to an admirable level of community service – that they’ve recently snagged a number of very prestigious design contacts.

A couple years back, Thom was part of the Emerging Leaders in Architecture program sponsored by the Virginia AIA. They did interesting an interesting community service project in Richmond. Back home in Norfolk, people saw the opportunity to spruce up a rather ratty-looking site that lies smack in the middle of downtown. A number of buildings had been torn down over the years to make way for boom-time development that never commenced. The site was left dormant and lonely.

A kind gift and note from the Whites.

A kind gift and note from the Whites.

Thom and Mel dreamed up a temporary solution and “Hundreds of volunteers have worked with the Downtown Norfolk Council to turn the vacant two-acre plot of land into a park, complete with Wi-Fi, vendors, entertainment and other attractions,” according to WVEC, a local TV station aired a story on it.

On the morning of December 21st, The Plot was simply magic. If you’re in the neighborhood, you should stop by the D’Egg diner for a meal and take a stroll through Thom’s magical Plot.


  1. This makes for a great read. It’s good to see that Architects are gradually integrating themselves in to the world of online media. I read an interesting blog post a while back, aptly titled ‘Dear Architect, your website sucks’ – found here -> – if you are interested. It’s not my blog or post (for the purpose of not making this post look like a promotion). Hope all is well at WPA.



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