Last month, on Oct. 13, the Associated General Contractors of Connecticut honored Southport's Mark P. Finlay Architects, AIA as the 2009 Designer of the Year at the Fifth Annual Industry Recognition Awards.

Founded in 1984 at 96 Old Post Rd. in Southport Village, Mark P. Finlay Architects, AIA specializes in "high-end custom residences, trademark commercial buildings, historic restoration and golf clubhouse design," as their Web site attests. "On top of architecture, they also offer "master planning, landscape design, interior architecture and sustainable design."

The firm has won over 20 awards, including 10/10 & Under in 1989, which confirmed Mark P. Finlay Architects as one of the top ten architectural firms in Connecticut who have been in practice for less than ten years and have fewer than ten architects in the firm; as well as a 2004 Aurora Award for "Building and Design Excellence."

Finlay even designed their own Southport office building in the tradition of New England train stations. The firm received the 2004 Nicholas H. Fingelly Award for New Construction as a result.

David Genovese of Baywater Properties nominated the firm for the AGC's 2009 Designer of the Year award.

"Our firm has worked with Mark Finlay Architects on two completed projects now, 1020 Boston Post Road in Darien and 195 Danbury Road in Wilton," Genovese explained. "In each case, we are confident that the aesthetics of the buildings as designed by Mark Finlay contributed enormously to the leasing success of these projects. 1020 Boston Post Road was 100% leased during construction and 195 Danbury Road was leased ahead of schedule. Both projects have, in our view, contributed greatly to their respective neighborhoods and each was well received by its community.

"Additionally, the Finlay team has an extraordinary bench of architects, and so managing the project through the construction phase was as positive an experience as one could hope for in a large commercial project with lots of moving parts," Genovese continued. "We appreciate the design sense of Mark Finlay and his team, but we also enjoy working with them."

There were eight categories in which the firm could have been nominated for this year's AGC awards: Public Owner Representative of the Year, Private Owner Representative of the Year, Designer of the Year, General Contractor/Construction Manager of the Year, Supplier/Service Provider of the Year, Subcontractor of the Year, Construction Supervisor of the Year and Educator of the Year.

There were three finalists in each category, all judged on levels of leadership; willingness to learn; desire to excel; understanding of construction principals and theory; skill levels developed through education and job experience; experience, discipline and focus to bring thoughtfulness and skill together in various construction projects; and adherence to fair and responsible business practices.

Shannon Horsley, publicist and business development assistant for Mark P. Finlay Architects, reported that this is the first time the firm has earned such an award.

"We believe we received this award because of the consistent quality of our designs," Horsley said. "This award is a big deal for our firm. It is nice to be acknowledged from the building side of the profession. This is a huge credit to our firm."

With a new location at 60 East 66th St. in New York City, Mark P. Finlay Architects is expanding successfully.

"Our New York office is great," Horsley opined. "It just opened this past week. We are open and ready for business and have conducted several meetings so far."

For more information about the firm, visit www.markfinlay.com.