September 16, 2020

Name: Mary Melissa Taddeo, AIA

Current Title: Architect

Office Location: Nashville, TN

Years at Gresham Smith: 3


Meet Mary Melissa Taddeo, an architect in our Corporate + Urban Design market and our latest Faces of Gresham Smith feature! Actively involved in Nashville Design Week and recently named a 2020 Emerging Leader Award Finalist by the Nashville Chamber, this Alabama native has made a name for herself in the local design community. Keep reading to learn how Mary Melissa’s creative passions led to a career in architecture and about her favorite co-worker memory.


Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Auburn, Alabama.


Where did you go to college?

I went to Auburn University and earned a Bachelor of Architecture in 2012.


What was your first job?

In junior high, I had a little side business sewing crazy quilt handbags. I sold them to friends and family, and I even had specialty labels made for the interiors! My first professional job was a summer internship at Cohen Carnaggio Reynolds, an architectural and interior design firm in Birmingham, Alabama.


How has Gresham Smith helped you in your career development?

After four years in a small firm, I was craving the challenge of working on larger-scale projects, specifically mixed-use developments. I was hired at Gresham Smith in 2017 and dove straight into our Nashville Yards project, which really fit the bill. The chance to expand knowledge and experience at the firm is invaluable. There is always an opportunity to learn about a new project type or hone your skillset!


What’s your favorite Gresham Smith memory?

I have the best photos and memories of the Gresham Smith crew at my wedding reception. Senior Architect Kelly Cathey’s addition to me and my husband’s grand entrance was hilarious! (Let’s just leave it at that!)


What made you choose your profession?

I maxed out all the art classes in high school. Originally, I thought I’d pursue a fine art degree. After a nudge from my folks (my dad is in construction), I decided to give architecture a try, and I was immediately hooked. It combines creative thinking and problem solving. The end result is so satisfying– literally a physical manifestation of the creative process.


If you weren’t in your current profession what would you be doing?

Hard to choose! In another life, I feel like I’d probably be an art history professor, or own a funky boutique.


What music is playing in your car right now?

In the car, I always have NPR on. I typically listen to music at my desk or around the house, Umphrey’s McGee is my go-to.


What book are you currently reading?

Everything is Under Control by Phyllis Grant and The Moon Sister, the fifth book in the Seven Sisters series, by Lucinda Riley.


Three objects on your desk?

My sketchbook, about six different pairs of glasses, and a hot cup of coffee.


What would people be surprised to know about you?

I have flown solo in a Cessna 172. I have yet to finish the final hours on my pilot’s license, but it’s always been a dream of mine and a shared family passion. My dad and granddaddy are both pilots.