MSU School of Architecture alumni featured in Sun Herald

July 7th, 2016 Comments Off on MSU School of Architecture alumni featured in Sun Herald

Sun Herald - 07-03-2016

photo submitted by Mark Talley

By Justin Mitchell |

You won’t find these Coast home designs in the suburbs

When architects Mark (MSU S|ARC class of 2010) and Madison Talley (class of 2011) told people they were bringing their modern approach to South Mississippi, some people warned them to be careful.

Madison, a Coast native, said she and her husband thought they would end up in a large city after they graduated from Mississippi State University. But after seeing how expensive San Francisco was, they considered bringing their brand of modern design back home.

“Whenever we came to the Coast, people said, ‘I’m just not sure you’re going to find this contemporary architecture niche you’re looking for,’ ” Madison Talley said.

But those folks were wrong. In a quaint building on Government Street, TALLstudio is open for business, and residents and business owners are taking note of the Talleys’ innovative approach to design.

Form and function

“Our clients are typically younger, mid-30s, and wanted to do something different or more forward-thinking — not like the houses they grew up in on the Coast,” Madison Talley said. “Plenty of architects do that, and we wanted to differentiate ourselves by doing something else.”

Since opening TALLstudio two years ago, the Talleys have worked with 10 clients in the Southeast and are in negotiations for other projects. Their aesthetic is simple — the Talleys create functional living or business space that is sleek and modern with clean lines. Each design is individually crafted to fit clients’ needs.

You won’t find spec books or blueprint samples inside TALLstudio. You’ll see model replicas of projects under construction.

Mark Talley said their aesthetic doesn’t necessarily fit in — it stands out.

“It’s based on our client’s wants or needs,” he said.

Madison Talley said their clients want something out of the ordinary, and it’s an added bonus that TALLstudio’s designs feature materials that are easy to maintain.

“It’s something that’s not fluffy or with a lot of extra trim or ornate detailing,” she said. “We base most of our designs based on function.”

A not-so-typical ‘farm house’

One of the Talleys’ latest projects, a “farm house” in Long Beach, started with a trip to the land where the 3,100-square-foot home would be constructed.

Mark and Madison spent days at the site, taking note of how the wind moved through the trees and how the light played on the ground. When the sun is shining on the completed home, a tree shadow creates an eye-catching pattern.

“We try to capture the views that our clients want to see. We site the building so it’s ecologically responsible and responds to the environment,” Madison Talley said.

The design of the “farm house” features single-sloped roofs and large panes of glass to allow a lot of natural light. The interior finishes are very unusual, Madison Talley said.

The home is open-concept, and a second-story loft features a library area and play area for children that overlooks the main living space. The client wanted the home to look different and spark the attention of visitors, Madison Talley said, but they didn’t want it to look like a spaceship.

When the family moves into the space, they won’t be bringing anything with them so there’s not a lot of storage space or an attic.

The exterior could possibly include unconventional materials such as metal or spray concrete.

Mark Talley said he and his wife had to “form” the building within the free space in the site. The bottom floor is T-shaped to fit in the land surrounded by trees, and the second floor helps with the ecological footprint.

“The overarching idea about this house is that it could not compete with the trees on this site,” Mark Talley said.

A revamped Katrina cottage

The Talleys have recently finished an addition to a home on Davis Bayou in Ocean Springs and are working with a client who bought a Katrina cottage to make it into a relaxing oasis.

The plan was to make it look like anything but a Katrina cottage. The wraparound porch features an open area where the client can store her wind-surfing gear and a screened-in section where she could host yoga classes.

“Most of them live very interesting lives, have very interesting businesses or have a very interesting perspective on life,” Mark Talley said of their clients.

The Talleys said they usually go in 50 directions when beginning a project and narrow that down to three options to present to the client before moving in a final direction.

“We try to keep our work very easy to build,” Madison Talley said. “Hopefully, we get a better project that is more ecologically friendly. We have to take into account hurricanes and high wind. The more simple we can keep these things, the stronger we can make them.”

The Talleys said they can work with any budget, and also offer art installation and graphic design.

“We tailor our services to what a client can afford,” Madison Talley said.

Living within their means

The Talleys live on a large piece of land in Vancleave in a completely renovated AirStream trailer that is less than 200 square feet. Madison Talley said she can clean her entire home in about 10 minutes.

She said some clients think it’s cool while others think it’s a tad wacky.

“We did not want to take on a mortgage or renting a house,” she said. “We could take that money we would sink into a house and put that into our business. We’re young and we can adapt to it. We can live small right now so that our business can hopefully flourish.”


Mark and Madison Talley’s architecture firm, TALLstudio, is at 1508 Government St. in Ocean Springs.

To contact the Talleys, e-mail Mark Talley at or Madison Talley at

Information from TALL Studio website

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