Don Brinkerhoff Dead, Visionary Las Vegas Landscape Architect Backed Strip Beautification

Posted on: July 26, 2021, 08:31h. 

Last updated on: July 26, 2021, 02:11h.

Famed landscape architect Don Brinkerhoff died July 16 at the age of 90 at his home in Newport Beach, Ca. No cause of death was given in the obituary. 

Las Vegas landscape architect Don Brinkerhoff
The Las Vegas Strip simply wouldn’t be the Las Vegas Strip without Don Brinkerhoff, the go-to landscape architect for casinos for decades. Brinkerhoff died aged 90 on July 16, 2021. (Image: The Poly Post)

Without Brinkerhoff’s distinguished career, the Las Vega Strip today would appear dramatically different. Brinkerhoff, along with his late wife and business partner, Barbara, ran Lifescapes International Inc. The firm played a major role in the beautification of South Las Vegas Boulevard, transforming the gambling town’s main drag from a grey corridor into one with lush green landscapes and features that have left countless visitors in awe. 

Don’s contributions from The Mirage, Treasure Island, Bellagio, Wynn, Encore, and China was critical,” Steve Wynn said in a statement. “It was Don who dreamt up the detail of the front of The Mirage and it was Don that introduced me to Mark Fuller with the idea of the fountain at the Bellagio.”

Yes, the world-renowned Bellagio Fountains likely wouldn’t be one of the Strip’s most visited public attractions without Brinkerhoff. Lifescapes was also responsible for the Bellagio’s 14,000-square-foot conservatory, which entices guests to return throughout the year for new displays. 

Distinguished Career

Along with Brinkerhoff’s landscape architecture design work with several of Steve Wynn’s iconic properties, his Las Vegas casino portfolio includes The Venetian and Palazzo, Red Rock Resort, and Palms. 

Lifescapes also designed the landscape at Pechanga Resort & Casino in California, Encore Boston Harbor, Golden Nugget Lake Charles, La., and Paradise City in Incheon, South Korea. For those who have visited China’s Macau, Brinkerhoff’s work can be seen at The Venetian and Four Seasons. 

“Never underestimate the role of discovery and surprise in the design process. Exceed expectations, but more importantly, provide an experience or a detail that is unexpected, and you will delight your guests more than you can ever imagine,” Brinkerhoff said in 2013.

Brinkerhoff was elected into the American Gaming Association’s Gaming Hall of Fame in 2016. 

Las Vegas Landscape Could Change

Despite being in the middle of the Mojave Desert, with a climate typified by long, extremely hot summers and an average of only 26 days of rainfall each year, the Las Vegas Strip features many lush green spaces. That could change in the coming years.

To help conserve water, a 2020 bill signed by Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) mandates that nearly one-third of all grass in Southern Nevada be removed by 2027. The legislation bans water from the Colorado River from being used by the Southern Nevada Water Authority for “nonfunctional turf” beginning that same year.

I think that it’s incumbent upon us for the next generation to be more conscious of our conservation of our natural resources, water being particularly important,” Sisolak explained of his support of the measure.

Prior to Steve Wynn’s fall from grace in 2018 because of alleged sexual misconduct with female staffers, the billionaire proposed building a 38-acre lagoon behind Wynn’s Strip casinos. The $1.5 billion development was later shelved, and the Wynn Golf Club reopened as an 18-hole course in 2019.