Closet Inventor at Heart: Meet George Vangelatos

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

George Vangelatos is a designer based out of our Sacramento office, but more than that he is a closet inventor, advocate of adventure vehicles, and father. Whether designing a project for HMC or building something in his garage, George loves the process of designing and exploring new ideas to create something tangible out of nothing. Curious about what inspires him and how he ended up as a designer at HMC, we interviewed George to get the full story.

How long have you wanted to be a designer?

I would say as long as I can remember. I can’t image doing anything else. No one in my family was involved in architecture, or construction for that matter. It may be I’m a victim of the cliché Brady Bunch influence; and yes, I was a big fan of Legos too.

What first sparked your interest in architecture?

Being able to create something tangible out of nothing more than an idea is what sparked my interest. I’m a closet inventor at heart with a severe case of curiosity—curious George, I know. Architecture is an avenue of exploration that seems endless.

Designed by George Vangelatos while working at HDR

Can you list some projects that you have recently completed and/or are currently working on?

Just prior to joining HMC, I designed the Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi project, and was involved with the design of the “Sync” nurse station furniture. While at HMC, I’ve worked on several projects, but most notably I was part of the First People’s Hospital design competition team, the Martin Luther King, Jr. MACC project, UHS Temecula Hospital, and I was also involved with the Kaiser 100 and Catholic Healthcare West small hospital competitions. Currently I’m working on the Seton Medical Center.

What hobbies do you enjoy in your free time?

Free time? Please explain. Actually, I value my time with my family and try to make the most of it when I can. Things I like to do on my own time usually involve wheels and garage space. I’m a recently retired motorcycle rider, which was my passion for about five years. I had several motorcycles including my favorite—a Triumph I converted to a café racer. I’ve moved on to a different type of adventure vehicle; I now have an old Jeep that I call my “project.” Off-roading is new for me, and the range of experiences it can offer is very exciting. I recently went on the Eastern half of the Rubicon Trail heading to Tahoe. The trail was challenging but inspired me to keep exploring.

Do you find that any of your outside hobbies impact your design at work?

Something in my DNA tells me that things can always be done in a better way. Since we choose our career as well as our hobbies, I tend to choose paths that allow change. I chose a Triumph because it is one of the most modifiable bikes available. If I had the resources I might have even built a bike from scratch. The same can be said for the Jeep. I love riding both, but the build is what I think about. Architecture is very similar. I enjoy experiencing monumental buildings and I constantly veer off course to look at architecture, but the process of design and exploring new ideas is where I’m at home.

What inspires you?

Inspiration can come from just about anything. When I see something beautiful, I try to understand why I feel that way about it. I’m inspired by my daughters, what I see them do on their ice skates or on the dance floor. I see movement, patterns, color, and linkages between various things that make them special or unique. A circuit board, an engine, a bird’s feather, a chocolate cover pretzel (brilliant!)— all are potential sources for inspiration.

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"Architecture is an avenue of exploration that seems endless."



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