A Martinez bank that opened more than a year ago was selected as the top design in Columbia County in a new contest started by planning officials.
F&M Bank, on Evans to Locks Road near Furys Ferry Road, received the most votes by county residents who participated in the inaugural 2010 Community Pride Design Awards survey.
"They really worked hard to get a quality building project done," said county Planning Manager Nayna Mistry. "It really fits in with the shopping center, and it looks very attractive from the street."
The stone and stucco building at the Village at Furys Ferry shopping center was completed in August 2009 by Atlanta-based Design Build Concepts.
The interior is decorated with natural materials to create a "homey," welcoming environment for banking customers, said Kent Culverhouse, the architect who worked on the project.
The bank has six offices, a fireplace and artwork by area artists.
"The idea was just to create a harmony with that (shopping center) and also ... to the nature of the housing developments that were going in at that time in the area," Culverhouse said.
In designing a bank, Culverhouse said, the most important factor is incorporating privacy into the layout and ensuring that customers feel comfortable in the building.
"It means I did my job," Culverhouse said of the award. "That's the goal of any architect, is to create harmony with the community."
The building is constructed within a "neo-traditional" node, which requires that buildings meet a high set of standards, Mistry said.
Nearly 100 residents took part in the survey, which asked respondents in November to select from 23 commercial and retail structures that included Stanton Optical, the Grovetown Walmart, Golden Corral and three new shopping centers anchored by a grocery store.
Those voting were asked to choose their favorite three designs in relation to the development's character, overall design and quality.
Ducktails Pediatrics on Blue Ridge Drive was awarded second place, and Redeemer Presbyterian Church on William Few Parkway was third.
Honorable mentions were given to Care More Animal Hospital, also near the Village at Furys Ferry shopping center, Broome Family Eye Care on North Belair Road, Dermatology Specialists of Augusta on Town Park Lane and Riverwood Town Center. The winners of the design awards received plaques.
Mistry said she was pleased with the response from the community and plans to hold the contest every other year, if not annually.
"I think it helps the citizens get more involved with what's going on around them," she said.
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