Las Vegas Springs Preserve

The Origen Experience is the main visitor center for the Las Vegas Springs Preserve, a 180-acre complex on the site of the original springs that supplied water to the city of Las Vegas. Exhibits explore the ways that water has determined the geology, ecology and cultural history of this desert region. Forty thousand square feet of interior and exterior exhibits foster an appreciation for the survival strategies of plants, animals, and human cultures in the inhospitable Mojave Desert.

In addition I was involved in several other contracts for the Preserve including wayfinding and building signage and trail interpretive graphics.

I worked with West Office for the Preserve throughout the seven year development process, primarily as the senior exhibit designer for the visitor center exhibits.


The central rotunda of the visitor center. Bronze cattails are engraved with the names of major donors.


A 6,000-gallon flash flood rushes beneath the feet of visitors in this desert ravine theater. I worked closely with the architect, Randy Spitsmesser of Tate, Snyder, Kimsey Architects in Las Vegas, NV to integrate the exhibit into the building infrastructure.


Visitors dig for fossils at the edge of a spring mound – an unusual geologic formation once found on the preserve site. The fossils are embedded with RFID (radio frequency identification) tags. When placed on a scanner an animation places the fossil in the animal to which it once belonged. The exhibit was one of the first applications of RFID technology in a museum.


Visitors mingle with bidders at the original Las Vegas land auction. As visitors wander through the crowd they overhear conversations expressing the future hopes for the town’s new residents.


A time-line of the history of Las Vegas as a city shows the huge growth in population and subsequent explosion in water consumption.


An outdoor treasure hunt involves searching for species that possess specific desert survival strategies. In this image a group of live animal displays and interactive exhibits explores hoe desert plants and animals have evolved ways of storing moisture to survive long dry spells.


Junior archeologists dig for replicas of artifacts left by Euro-American settlers, and then identify them in an adjacent flip-book.


Visitors explore re-creations of Southern Paiute dwellings, called wickiups.


We developed outdoor exhibits as part of an artificial box canyon located along the main entrance to the center of the preserve. Working with the landscape architect – eGroup in Phoenix, AZ – we developed interpretive exhibits as well as an audio-scape with sounds of desert wildlife.


The project also included way finding signage consisting of approximately 1000 graphic elements and interpretive graphics for two miles of trails.


Client:              Las Vegas Valley Water District

Location:         Las Vegas, NV

Floor Area:      40,000 sq. ft.

Budget:            $29,000,000

Opening:          2007

Contact:           Jay Nichols, (former) Director of Exhibits