2.7 min readPublished On: July 25, 2022Categories: News


Dianne Whitaker, AIA
2004 AIASMC President

I was fortunate to be present at the beginning of our Chapter.  I was a Charter Associate Member in 1982, when the San Mateo County Architects organization was formed.  That group became the San Mateo County Chapter The American Institute of Architects in 1983, with the ‘blessings’ of San Francisco AIA, Santa Clara Valley AIA, and California Council AIA.  During my many years of involvement with the Chapter, I have had the good fortune to know and work with “the three Georges, plus one” in the Chapter.

George Avanessian was a soft spoken and gracious soul.  He served as a Director during the 1982 and 1983 formation years, and from 1985 through 1988.  During this period, monthly board meetings were held at various member firm offices during lunch, or late afternoons.  George had contacts at Galli’s Sanitary Bakery on Grand Avenue in South San Francisco and often provided the food at Board and Fellowship meetings.  George was an active Chapter member up until his death in October of 2012.  He was a graduate of UC Berkeley and his architectural firm was located in South San Francisco.

George Sinclair had a larger-than-life personality:  you either liked him, or not.  After high school he apprenticed with a local building designer, gaining valuable construction and design experience which enabled him to pass the California architect licensing exam.  Many Chapter members worked at either Panko Sinclair Architects or Sinclair Associates early in their careers.  George served as Chapter Director from 1986 – 1987, was Vice President in 1988, and President in 1989.  He and many Chapter members volunteered their time and expertise during the aftermath of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake assessing damaged structures.  George passed away in April 1997 while attending the Monterey Design Conference at Asilomar.  His practice was located in San Mateo.

George Cintel was a quiet and affable soul.  After serving as Chapter Treasurer in 1988 – 1989, he was elected Vice President in 1990 and served as Chapter President in 1991.  He later represented our Chapter on the California Council AIA Board during 1992 – 1993.  During his Presidency, the Chapter held its first “Post-Earthquake Evaluation of Buildings” workshop on the second anniversary of the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.   During an election speech, I accidently said I worked for George Cintel because I happen to be looking at him (even though I was working for George Sinclair at the time).  George passed away in June of 2020.  He was a graduate of the University of Oregon and his architectural firm was located in San Mateo.

Robert (Bob) George was there at the beginning of the Chapter.  He served as Chapter Secretary in 1983, Vice President in 1984 and President in 1985.  In 1990 – 1991, he represented our Chapter on the California Council AIA Board.  While President, Bob served as Master of Ceremonies during the Chapter’s first Design Awards Program and Banquet, and was instrumental in forming and running the Chapter’s Disaster Response Training Program in years following the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.  Before starting his own firm, Bob worked for the Federal Bureau of Prisons and later NBBJ Architects.  Bob has always served as a great mentor and friend to Chapter members; is a graduate of UC Berkeley; and is VERY MUCH STILL ALIVE, in San Bruno!

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