August 15, 2022

Music Arts

Spearheading Arts Excellence

Mirage landscape designer Don Brinkerhoff dies in California

5 min read

Donald Brinkerhoff, who introduced joy to hundreds of thousands of Las Vegas guests by transforming the as soon as-grey median strip together Las Vegas Boulevard and maximizing resorts with lush landscapes, has died.

Brinkerhoff, a landscape architect who started Lifescapes Worldwide Inc. with his wife, Barbara, was 90 when he died July 16 at his Newport Seaside, California, house.

His fingerprints and influence are noticeable up and down the Strip from the tropical landscape at The Mirage, to the stately pines and fountains producing an previous-planet vibe at Bellagio and to Lifescapes’ latest venture at Resorts Planet, which involved the planting of all around 7,000 plants and trees, including the relocation of about 100 trees rescued from the outdated Stardust hotel grounds.

Brinkerhoff’s do the job started in earnest with his landscape style and design of The Mirage for Steve Wynn in 1989 and continued through his work on Resorts Globe Las Vegas with guide architect Paul Steelman, who mentioned Brinkerhoff coined the terms “hardscape” and “softscape” in landscape architecture through his profession.

‘In limited, magnificent’

“Don’s contribution from The Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio, Wynn, Encore and China was important,” previous Wynn Resorts Chairman and CEO Steve Wynn reported through a agent. “It was Don that dreamt up the element of the front of The Mirage and it was Don that launched me to Mark Fuller with the strategy of the fountain at the Bellagio.

“These innovative contributions in addition to his spectacular landscape style were a excellent duty that all of the great motels liked,” he explained.

Brinkerhoff also built the middle median of the Strip with trees and crops.

Now specified as a Nevada Scenic Highway, the Las Vegas Beautification Task consisted of 4½ miles of streetscaping the landscape medians on what he thought of the biggest midway in the world. Seventy-6-thousand palms, shrubs, flowering foliage and floor address have been planted. Completed in 1996, much more than 200 Strip frontage residence homeowners unanimously accredited the $13 million special improvement district task, which had no fiscal effect on specific Clark County taxpayers.

“I went to Don to beautify the Strip in the ’80s and Don intended the entire middle strip plan of trees to soften and give heat to the sharp-edged signage,” Wynn said.

“He was, in brief, spectacular. I am grateful to have such sweet recollections of this lovely person.”

‘Wonder-inducing landscape creations’

Brinkerhoff labored with almost just about every significant Strip developer throughout his career and his hallmark was to plant “big trees.”

“Don Brinkerhoff was a visionary designer whose function involves many surprise-inducing landscape creations throughout the Las Vegas Strip,” mentioned Invoice Hornbuckle, CEO of MGM Resorts Worldwide, which homes significantly of the designer’s work.

“His expansive portfolio incorporates several of MGM Resorts’ most famed attractions together with the Oasis at The Mirage as well as the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens at Bellagio Resort & On line casino. His perform leaves a lasting imprint on the town and continues to carry joy to thousands and thousands of guests each yr.”

Brinkerhoff’s business also presented the floral perform at Wynn Resorts Ltd.’s Encore in Las Vegas and Encore Boston Harbor in Massachusetts.

“Don shared our belief that the aspects of character — wonderful plants and flowers, purely natural gentle, the comforting sight and sound of drinking water — had been crucial for all individuals and he assisted us to make them critical features of the Wynn encounter,” mentioned Wynn Resorts CEO Matt Maddox. “Although he will be skipped, his vision life throughout all of our resorts.”

Alan Feldman, a distinguished fellow in accountable gaming at UNLV’s Intercontinental Gaming Institute, worked with Brinkerhoff all through his time with Mirage Resorts and later with MGM Resorts Worldwide.

A spouse and children gentleman

“Beyond his around the world name as 1 of the best landscape architects, he was often, first and foremost, a spouse and children guy,” Feldman said. “The total Brinkerhoff spouse and children was engaged in the get the job done and their talent as a group was extraordinary.”

Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs, a daughter who serves as president and main monetary officer of Lifescapes, reported her parents’ penchant for journey impressed lots of of the ideas for their initiatives and noted her relatives lived in several areas close to the earth just before settling in at Newport Beach front.

Feldman mentioned Brinkerhoff was unflappable, even when purchasers transformed their minds about models in mid-challenge.

“Don, as the patriarch, set the tone: collaborative, even-tempered, amusing, just a great colleague. He was unflappable as perfectly. Even as his client’s sights modified and types that experienced been authorised had been altered, he adapted and offered new answers that were even greater than the originals.

“His work on The Mirage aided to usher in the age of the fashionable built-in resort not only in Las Vegas, but all over the entire world. The good news is, that work, in addition to Treasure Island and Bellagio, will stand as legacies to his memory.”

Brinkerhoff received numerous awards all through his vocation. He was honored in 2001 by the California Homebuilding Basis, was named a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and was the very first architect to be inducted into the California Constructing Sector Hall of Fame and, in 2016, the American Gaming Affiliation Hall of Fame.

Resorts Globe work

A single of Brinkerhoff’s very last initiatives was the recently opened Resorts Earth, which he labored on with guide architect Steelman.

“Las Vegas was very fortunate that Don frequented Vegas in 1986 to interview for the design of The Mirage,” Steelman claimed. “That working day improved Las Vegas and casino entertainment endlessly and shaped the lovely suburban seem of our quite urbanized city.”

Steelman known as Brinkerhoff the very first landscape architect who seen landscape as a lot more than character — as also enjoyment.

“Don was also a lover of all the arts and songs,” he mentioned. “His enthusiasm for artwork was evidently demonstrated in his landscape types all through the environment.”

Steelman explained he was current when Brinkerhoff obtained The Mirage contract.

“While the other competitors presented distinctive answers, they had been based on the Desert Southwest. Don’s structure was the only one to look at landscape as escapism. He was the only landscape architect who conceived that the structure concepts casinos made use of for many years could be put in landscape.

“Steve Wynn was incredibly taken by Don’s presentation, and Don stayed in Vegas for many days constructing a product with 1000’s of little model trees. Of training course, Steve adopted this structure eyesight with each and every subsequent venture with Don. Bellagio, Treasure Island, Wynn, Encore, Beau Rivage, Wynn Macau, Wynn Palace. Don also created the backyard waterfront scheme that preceded the Fremont Road Encounter.”

Brinkerhoff is survived by a few children, son, Martin Brinkerhoff of Laguna Seaside, California and daughters Julie Brinkerhoff-Jacobs of Corona del Mar, California and Karen Hedstrom of Newport Seashore. He was preceded in dying by daughter Christie Dunbar three weeks ahead of he died and by his wife and company partner, Barbara, who died in December 2014.

A celebration of daily life for Brinkerhoff is scheduled in Newport Seashore on Aug. 6.

Get in touch with Richard N. Velotta at or 702-477-3893. Abide by @RickVelotta on Twitter.

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