Finding Home

Dalhoff Thomas design studio’s newest team member Michelle Ye weighs in on her experiences moving to Memphis.

I always have trouble answering the question, “Where are you from?” When I was young, my parents worked hard to chase educational and career opportunities. We moved from Shenzhen, China, to Arkansas, Washington, Indiana, New Hampshire, Florida, and North Carolina. As a result, I’ve lived a fragmented childhood, always either adjusting to a new place or getting ready to say goodbye. After settling down in North Carolina, I spent the majority of my life there where I attended high school and college before moving to Memphis to join DT at the end of May. But since I had been used to moving around so much, it was hard for me to ever call any place home.

That’s why I was so surprised when, on a road trip back to Memphis from North Carolina, I found myself thinking “I’m so glad I’m going home.” I ended up driving the entire 12 hours back, only stopping for gas. Why was Memphis so easy for me to attach to?

One of my favorite things about Memphis is its diversity. I’m a social butterfly who thrives on new people and new experiences, and I’ve definitely been taking advantage of all the fun events, yummy restaurants, and artsy scenes here. Memphis has a balance of big city excitement and small town closeness, which means that I’ve been able to fit in and feel welcome with many different groups of people. The diversity of the people in Memphis is coupled by the diversity of its urban spaces. Even just within downtown there are several districts with unique vibes. I’ve had great times exploring South Main on Trolley Night, or just grabbing food truck tacos and sitting by the river listening to the tunes of 901 fest. Midtown has a lot to offer as well, whether it’s jamming to some great bands at the Levitt Shell, doing yoga in Overton Square, or playing trivia at local restaurants. I also love traversing the outdoors at Shelby Farms and nearby state parks.

Another thing that continues to draw me me into Memphis is its positive energy. From day one, chatting with the Uber driver who took me to my job interview, to watching the owner of a local Ethiopian restaurant prepare traditional coffee, I’ve been so inspired by the amount of passion people have for life. Everyone here seems to be involved in something they care about deeply and wants to share their enthusiasm and authenticity with their community. My absolute favorite thing is exploring the city and stumbling upon an art piece in an unexpected place that screams “I LOVE MEMPHIS!” 

I’m fortunate to be working at DT where I’m able to spread my love of the city through creation of public spaces. Memphis is undergoing a transformation with new urban infill projects, greenway connections, and community-driven activism. I can’t think of a better place to begin a new chapter of my life.

What makes you feel "at home" wherever you are?

The Neighborhood at Colonial Country Club: Moving Forward

As you walk the grounds of the Colonial Country Club you are surrounded by a landscape that has witnessed some of the most historic moments in the game of golf. The club is a staple in the Memphis/Cordova area that once stood as a former championship course, a stop on the PGA tour, the home of Gerald Ford’s famous hole-in-one, and Al Geiberger’s PGA record 18-hole low score of 59 (still to be surpassed). The Colonial Country Club is an integral, historic part of the social fabric of the Memphis area and upon announcing the closure of the north course a hole was quite literally formed in the middle of the residential community surrounding the club.

Proposed Master Plan for The Neighborhood at Colonial Country Club, by DTdesign|studio.

The Neighborhood at Colonial Country Club is a contemporary, infill development solution to a problem that many other places have failed to recognize. At first glance, one may view the closing of the north-course as a constraint, yet another abandoned golf course blighting the core of a residential neighborhood… but here at DT design|studio we see an opportunity. The idea behind The Neighborhood at Colonial Country Club is to enhance the connectivity and diversity of the Memphis/Cordova area with distinguished planning and design that caters to the residents of the neighborhood and the surrounding area as a whole.

The design is comprised of four diverse and well connected areas with different functions and amenities. The Neighborhood Edge and guest cabins line the western entrance of the neighborhood with a well-designed landscape and buildings that address the street creating a sense of scale fit for a pedestrian as opposed to an automobile. After you pass the Village Edge you are now officially in the Neighborhood Core modeled under the principles of traditional neighborhood design. Rear access service lanes allow a wide array of housing options to more closely address the street while keeping traffic levels low and creating the opportunity for roadside pedestrian amenities such as urban greenways and linear parks. The neighborhood offers a natural hierarchy of intensity and land use that ties in to the surrounding context and creates the feel of a traditional neighborhood core. The pedestrian oriented design of the neighborhood, centered around the amenities and historic presence of the Colonial Country Club, creates a first class pedestrian experience for residents and an anchor in the urban fabric of the City of Memphis.

The Neighborhood at Colonial Country Club, the largest proposed residential development within the City of Memphis in years, is currently in the city and public approval stages of the planning process and we are optimistic about the positive economic and social impact it will contribute to the Memphis/Cordova area.

New life for Handy Park

Installing score joints around trumpet outline. The next step will be staining the trumpet and music notes Beale Street blue.

New paving and concrete paving designs give Handy Park an entirely new personality.

If you haven't been to Beale Street recently, Handy Park will look completely different. The Memphis Downtown Commission hired Dalhoff Thomas design|studio to make the space more functional and attractive to visitors, while giving it a funky feel that ties into the Beale Street vibe.

The large landscape beds have been minimized, new concrete has been installed, and the Park has an open feel that can be better organized for bands, concerts, and events. With the help of local artist Cat Pena, a musical theme is being installed in the pavement, with oversized notes and blue stained concrete. All work should be completed with the next month, so if you are down there, check it out. 


DT Design Studio presents to Engineers' Club of Memphis

Bioswale in the parking lot of Heifer International Headquarters featuring native grasses and perennials.

Dalhoff Thomas design studio and the Corradino Group were featured as the program speakers for the December 1st meeting of the Engineers’ Club of Memphis at the University of Memphis Holiday Inn where we spoke about green infrastructure principles and our winning project for the recent  Memphis-Shelby County Low Impact Development Design Competition. Henry Minor of Dalhoff Thomas began the presentation with an overview of green infrastructure practices and explained the rules and background of the LID Competition. To help everyone understand the various types of green infrastructure, we presented images of rain gardens, pervious pavement, and bioswales, such as the image above of a bioswale in the parking lot of Heifer International Headquarters in Little Rock, AR. We asked the audience how many felt this bioswale was aesthetically pleasing, and only two people liked the way it looked. The public perception of how native plants look in green infrastructure elements such as rain gardens and bioswales is one of many barriers that landscape architects and engineers must strive to overcome with better designs. Educating municipalities and the public about a different design aesthetic in the landscape, one that is more natural and less manicured, is critical to helping them understand the wildlife habitat and stormwater quality benefits provided by green infrastructure.

Perspective image of the LID Competition cottages showing the aesthetic value of the rain gardens and native plant material.

Sam Henry of Dalhoff Thomas and Joel Morrill of the Corradino Group continued by giving another great presentation of our first place project for the LID Design Competition and explaining the technical aspects of the green infrastructure design. Joel, the civil engineer on the team, explained how the rain gardens distributed throughout the site were capable of capturing a total of 98,000 gallons of water and removing 80% of the total suspended solids (TSS) in a 1” rain event. For a given gallon of stormwater runoff to be remediated, it is 2.4 times more cost effective to be treated with our green infrastructure design than with traditional grey infrastructure. In addition to the LID Design Competition project, Sam and Joel provided additional examples of recent green infrastructure projects in Louisville, KY and at City Hall in Germantown. See the rendered site plan below showing the rain gardens and new signage to be installed at City Hall. The engineers in attendance were very interested in the subject matter and asked several specific questions about how the rain gardens would perform in larger storm events and how maintenance would be handled. Sam explained that larger storm events would bypass the rain garden treatment system through an emergency overflow pipe, and maintenance would be performed by the homeowner’s association. Providing solutions to these questions and more is necessary to achieving a successful green infrastructure system. The EPA provides a list of resources to help answer the question, How Can I Overcome the Barriers to Green Infrastructure?

Rendered site plan of the future rain garden project to be constructed at Germantown City Hall.

DT visits the 63rd Annual TRPA Conference

Sam Henry speaks with a TRPA Conference attendee about an athletic complex recently completed in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. 

Sam Henry speaks with a TRPA Conference attendee about an athletic complex recently completed in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. 

Dalhoff Thomas design studio attended and participated in the 63rd annual TRPA Conference earlier this week in Nashville, Tennessee.  The conference focuses on improving recreation and parks opportunities across the state of Tennessee by offering educational sessions to design professionals, municipal leaders, and parks directors. Educational topics ranged from marketing,  outdoor classrooms, and sports injuries & prevention.  

As a trade show exhibitor, Dalhoff Thomas design studio was able to speak with conference attendees and show off many trends and new ideas occurring in parks currently being designed throughout the country.  With education and inspiration a constant goal at Dalhoff Thomas, presenting our ideas to an ever-changing market is important.  

To find out more about TRPA and how they help promote healthy and livable communities, visit:

DALHOFF THOMAS participates in Sustainability Lecture Series

Henry Minor and Sam Henry provides an overview to the LID competition.

Henry Minor and Sam Henry provides an overview to the LID competition.

One of our constant goals at Dalhoff Thomas design is to educate and inspire students, clients, and the public about the environmental principles we use during our site design and land planning process. It is always an enriching experience to discuss these ideals with allied professionals and the general public, and yesterday Sam Henry and Henry Minor  were asked to take part in a Sustainability Lecture Series at the University of Memphis.  The lecture series focuses on sustainability in architecture and collaborating professions such as planning, landscape architecture, and interior design.  

One of our constant goals at Dalhoff Thomas design is to educate and inspire students, clients, and the public about the environmental principles we use during our site design and land planning process.

The emphasis of the lecture was on sustainable site design, green infrastructure, and the Low Impact Development (LID) competition that DT design recently won. Although many people are familiar with the term sustainability, far fewer understand the issues caused by the predominant method of handling storm water with grey infrastructure. The DT Design team explained that green infrastructure is designing storm water systems to mimic natural processes of managing stormwater with vegetation and soil media. We must change our techniques of storm water management in order to reverse the trend of polluted waterways throughout our state and the country. A great resource for more information about green infrastructure is the ASLA Guide to Green Infrastructure.

Scale model of the LID competition site and site plan as designed by DT.  Model built by UM Architecture students. 

Scale model of the LID competition site and site plan as designed by DT.  Model built by UM Architecture students. 

The architecture and interior design students were recently tasked with taking Dalhoff Thomas' site plan from the LID competition and designing the senior housing units and the clubhouse.  Students even built a scale model of the developed site as planned by the DT team to study relationships between the natural environment and the proposed built environment. The DT Design team answered several specific questions about the intent of our design and had a roundtable discussion about various green infrastructure techniques and maintenance that is required to keep them operational.

A thank you goes to Jenna Thompson, Sustainability Coordinator at the Department of Architecture, for inviting the Dalhoff Thomas team to present and discuss these critical low impact development principles. Educating the public and future professionals is a joy for our team and something we all must do more consistently in order for to bring about significant change to the development sector.



HENRY MINOR promoted to Associate


HENRY MINOR, landscape architect and planner with DALHOFF THOMAS design studio, was recently named an Associate at DT design in Memphis. Since starting with the company in April of 2012, Henry had been a Project Manager with the company.  Henry works in all aspects of the company from Parks + Recreation to Land Planning, and he serves as the lead Irrigation Designer on all projects. 

A 2007 graduate of Mississippi State University, Henry enjoys spending time with his family, college football, fly fishing, and golfing.  He also currently holds the position of Past President with the Tennessee chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects.