Michelle Gangel, AIA, is R&D Market Team Leader with CRB in Kansas City, MO. Lab Manager recently spoke with Michelle about her career, experience, and personal interests.
Q: How did you get started in your career? Did you major in your field in college, get an internship, switch careers mid-stream, etc.?
A: I went to Kansas State University and graduated with a degree in architecture. I found my way to laboratory and the life science focus a bit by accident. I worked for more than 20 years in an architecture firm and gained experience in laboratory design with a higher education focus. I also worked on a couple of very satisfying criminalistics projects. There, I discovered a love for the project type—it is incredible to design spaces that allow a scientist to find the truth in a criminal investigation, discover the next breakthrough to cure or treat a disease, or launch a new business. I joined CRB about five years ago and now lead the Midwest R&D team and the national R&D market sector.
Q: What’s a common misconception about your job?
A: When I tell people I’m an architect, it seems that many think the main talent needed is drawing a straight line! In reality, this is an extremely high-tech field with continuous innovation in how we help clients visualize space and use advancements in materials to construct buildings—particularly in laboratory design. It takes a large team of specialized expertise, including lab planners, engineers, and designers—nothing is done alone. I hate to hear “I designed that” instead of “I was on the team that designed that building.”
Q: What lab projects are you working on at the moment?
A: The life science market is robust right now—so, many! These projects include speculative laboratory opportunities with developer partners across the country, incubator/start-up labs, R&D labs for corporate clients, and higher education projects focused on research spaces.
Q: What kinds of hobbies or interests do you have outside of work?
A: I love to travel and discover new places. I enjoy watching college football and the Kansas City Chiefs, spending time with family and friends, and watching movies.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in the next few years in your role at CRB?
A: This is the perfect timing for this question. I recently started the national role of R&D Market Sector lead at CRB and will be guiding our strategic direction around laboratory and workplace design.