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Pushing the boundaries

Madison Talley isn’t your typical architect

Tall Architects is an ironic name for a firm headed by a petite powerhouse.

Standing 4 feet, 10 inches tall, Madision Talley says she uses her size to her advantage, as it makes her more memorable.

“I also enjoy surprising people with a strong handshake,” Talley says. “My mom taught me this early on, and it’s something that I think shows people that I am a serious businessperson and shouldn’t be underestimated.”

Height aside, the architect stands out with an unconventional approach to her craft. After graduating from the architecture program at Mississippi State University, she put her artistic gifts to use creating large-scale art installations for Anthropologie — an international retail and lifestyle brand. She focused on art for three years and returned to architecture full time when she and her husband, Mark, started Tall Architects in 2014.

When people think of architects, they may imagine someone drawing “blueprints” — which Talley finds “an antiquated way to view the industry.”

“We architects do so much more than simply draw plans,” she says. “Our firm uses the latest technology to design and document a building, and we’re in near constant communication with the client, contractor and suppliers to make sure things are running smoothly and efficiently.”

The wife and mother of one is not a sit-behind-a-desk sort of professional. She’s happiest building a model, researching a material, meeting with a client or walking a job site.

In every project Tall takes on, Talley is heavily involved as a creative director. She deems architecture successful when it causes the viewer stop and think.

“We go through the day surrounded by architecture, but a lot of the built environment just becomes a backdrop for the everyday hustle and bustle,” Talley says. “Good design makes you pause for a minute and just enjoy the space.”