weather icon Clear

The Mansion Master

Richard Luke may be a famous architect known for his designs of million-dollar homes all across Las Vegas, but that’s not what people remember about him.

Clients and colleagues speak instead of his relaxed demeanor and unusual ability to get along with everyone.

“He’s a very easy man to work with, and I found him quite accommodating,” says Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp. “He’s a very nice man.”

“I’m sure he has to deal with some very unique requests,” says Gordon Miles, president and chief operating officer of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Nevada Properties, “but I’ve never heard a bad word about him in his reaction to his clients. He seems to be a very calming influence in this experience, and that’s unique.”

Luke agrees with their assessments, adding, “I’m not an egotistical architect, like ‘You do it my way or the highway.’ I think I’m very approachable and easy to work with.”

Indeed, Luke’s Australian accent and easy grin give him a boyish charm that could easily disarm even the most demanding ultrarich client.

And Luke has more than his share of ultrarich clients. He has designed more than 500 homes in Southern Nevada ranging in value from $1 million to $50 million.

His homes are considered by many to be works of art because he manages to make them unique while staying within the architectural confines of the master-planned communities they are in.

Those architectural confines, ironically, have given Luke the opportunity to experiment with many styles, from contemporary to Italianate to Pueblo to Mediterranean to Frank Lloyd Wright.

“He can take those regulated design elements and create something of beauty,” says Miles, whose real estate company specializes in luxury homes. “He really brings a different flair to our architecture in the residential sector that is really much needed. It’s nice not just seeing stucco and tile roofs.”

It’s those unique designs that have garnered attention from many of Las Vegas’ rich and famous. Luke has designed homes for comedian Rich Little; gaming industry icon Stephen Greathouse; Michael Morton, founder of 9 Group, which owns N9NE Steakhouse, Nove Italiano, Rain, Moon, Ghostbar and the Palms Pool &Bungalows; and abodes for several members of the Maloof family. The Maloofs built the Palms, and their current ventures include Maloof Productions, which produces reality series for Spike TV, Speed Channel and E! Reality TV.

And, of course, there’s Adelson, who recently made Forbes’ list of the richest people in the world with an estimated worth more than $36 billion.

Luke collaborated with San Francisco architect Andrew Skurman on Adelson’s multimillion-dollar home in Summerlin’s Tournament Hills community.

Adelson gives Luke the highest praise that can be bestowed upon an architect.

“When people go to sell a house, they say it’s a Richard Luke design,” he says. “It’s an advantage in selling a home.”

Luke’s first exposure to great architecture was in his native Canberra, the capital of Australia. Canberra is one of the few planned cities in the world. Australia held an international contest to choose an architect to design it in 1911, and Chicago architects Walter Burley Griffin and his wife, Marion Mahoney Griffin, were selected. The city’s design was influenced by what was known as the garden city movement and incorporates significant areas of natural vegetation centered around an artificial lake.

Luke’s father served as the first secretary and consul to the Australian Embassy in Washington, so Luke moved to Washington. When he graduated from high school, he decided to see the country before going back to school. He ended up in Vail, Colo., where the architecture reminded him of Europe. “Most of it was classical, international-style architecture,” he says. “It was like a Swiss village, with chalet-style hotels.”

Luke liked Colorado so much, he actually considered skipping school altogether and just staying there. He was a bartender in Vail making $100 a day in tips. Life was good.

But everyone knew he had the talent to be a superb architect: He was artistic, and math and science had always come easy to him. It was the perfect combination.

Then he heard about a program in Australia that would allow him to work and study at the same time. So Luke packed his bags and headed back to his roots.

Nearly three decades ago, after he graduated, he moved to Las Vegas because his then-wife was from here.

He found that his design work in Australia gave him carte blanche when it came to job opportunities, so he chose to work with J. Christopher Stuhmer, president of Christopher Homes, a large-scale luxury homebuilder in Las Vegas.

“I found out that I could open my own practice and go out on my own rather quickly,” Luke says.

He is more comfortable in a smaller firm, he says. While with Christopher Homes he had 40 people reporting to him. Now he has four assistants.

“I like to keep it simple.”

Luke says it takes approximately six months to design a luxury home. His fee is $7 to $10 per square foot, but he charges extra for clients who ask him to oversee the building of the design. For those clients, he inspects the building at least once a week.

Luke’s private practice has received the Golden Nugget Award for a Custom Residence, Street of Dreams Award for Best Architecture and the Las Vegas Silver Award for Custom Residence.

Luke uses all the design elements that inspired him to create his Las Vegas masterpieces.

His favorite style?

“I love doing contemporary designs,” he says.

He designs the home’s landscaping, too. “It all has to blend and be consistent with the architecture of the house.”

Many of his designs are reminiscent of Hawaiian resorts, with indoor-outdoor transitions that are seamless with sliding pocket doors that disappear when they are open and barely visible thresholds between the floor and the patio.

He uses water features, misters and strategically designed courtyards to create the oasis in the desert most of his clients are looking for.

His swimming pools are often infinity-edge pools that disappear — not into the ocean, as they do in tropical locales — but into a beautiful golf course or the natural desert vista, back-lit by the city’s mountains.

Luke’s signature elements, however, are his ceiling treatments and staircases.

He uses unusual shapes and a lot of detail in his designs along with strategic lighting that accents the ceiling and creates shadow and texture for the rooms or furniture groupings below, “particularly at night. A lot of times the ceiling defines the room.”

His staircases are eye-catching, with banisters made of wrought iron and stairs that appear to almost float up to the next level.

“I try to make them a real sculptural element,” Luke says. “I do a lot of spirals, and the geometry of it is just beautiful.”

He has included some unusual features at the request of his clients: basketball courts, bowling alleys, billiard rooms and massage rooms. And, of course, almost every home he designs includes the now-requisite theater or media room.

Some clients like their media room to be set up exactly like a movie theater, Luke says, while others want a more relaxed, comfortable “family room” or den.

What they all have in common is a huge screen and a state-of-the-art sound system.

Luke says he has never looked back since moving to Las Vegas.

“I love Las Vegas. It’s my home. What keeps me here is now it’s starting to boom again, and I just see a great future for Las Vegas.”

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Real Estate Millions Videos
Lake Las Vegas Henderson Home - Video
The views of Lake Las Vegas from 8 Rue Promenade Way are panoramic and through each arched window, postcard-perfect. Impeccably groomed shores, waterfalls, golf courses, and upscale living define the exclusive landscape. But it's the European-inspired, 7,000-square-foot home with floor-to-ceiling windows, stone fireplaces, curved stairways, French doors and ample nooks and balconies that suggest palatial hideaway.
Real Estate Millions: "Property Brothers" design a "drag room" - VIDEO
"Property Brothers" reached out to Las Vegas entertainer Frank Marino to design a "drag room" for Mark Hooker, who is performing as his stage persona “Margo Caprese,” known as the Vintage Vegas Vixen, in Las Vegas. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sun City Summerlin Dream Home - Real Estate Millions
Bob and Doralee have recently built there new dream retirement home in Sun City that mimics the style of there previous home.
Top 10 Most Expensive Homes in Las Vegas - Video
These are the top 10 most expensive homes sold in Las Vegas.
Lake Las Vegas Blue Heron Vantage Views
Video courtesy Lake Las Vegas Media/Drone Las Vegas & Black Room Productions
Golden Knight's owner Bill Foley's House for sale in The Ridges - Real Estate Millions
Peter Lik Designs Homes In Las Vegas - Video
Photographer Peter Lik has teamed up with Jewel Homes to design new homes for Las Vegas that take inspiration from different parts of the world.
Real Estate Millions: Temple Rock Court Boulder City
Temple Rock Court features four bedrooms, fourth bathrooms and is listed at $1.5 million.
Mount Charleston Home - Real Estate Millions
Louis Castle shows off his Mount Charleston home with beautiful view of the mountain.
Pardee Homes Terra Luna Wins Home Of The Year - VIDEO
Pardee Homes' Terra Luna in Summerlin wins the Silver Nugget's 2019 home of the year award.
Real Estates Millions: Midcentury Remodel - Video
Originally built in 1966, this Midcentury Remodel has been modernized to appeal to the masses. The larger than life windows brighten up the entire home and offer brilliant views of the nearby mountains and golf course.
Real Estate Millions: Lake Las Vegas (23 Summer House Drive)
Real Estate Millions: Angeles Home In MacDonald Highlands - VIDEO
Angeles Scorsetti's nearly 10,000-square-foot home she and her husband, Steve Mason, purchased on the Dragon Ridge Golf Course and spent six months remodeling, leaving behind their Mandarin Oriental penthouse where they lived 8 years above the Strip.
Real Estate Millions: Boulder City Home - VIDEO
Mal Farmer takes us on a tour of her Bolder City home that she remodeled and lived it with her late husband Richard for over 30 years.
Real Estate Million: 27 Shadow Canyon Court - VIDEO
27 Shadow Canyon is a $5.5 million dollar home is 9,825 square-feet with six bedrooms and 7 baths. Shadow Canyon is equipped with an assortment of Tesla Amenities including power walls, solar panels, and an electric car.
Real Estate Millions: 2019 New American Remodel
Real Estate Millions: Las Vegas Motorcoach Resort - VIDEO
Various RV owners living in the community of the Las Vegas Motorcoach Resorts gives the crew a tour of their motor homes.
Real Estate Millions: Brett Raymer's Tanked Home - VIDEO
Brett Raymer from the TV show "Tanked" gives us a look into his 4 story home on the edge of Lone mountain. What would a tanked home be without a 700-gallon custom aquarium in the kitchen and a 6,000-gallon Koi pond in its resort-style backyard.
Real Estate Millions: 460 Probst Way
460 Probst Way is listed for $4.5 million and has 5 bedrooms, 6 baths, 4 car garage and is 6,738 square feet. The home is in a gated compound with an outdoor pool, deck, and kitchen with near 360 degree of the las vegas valley. The house will be auctioned on April 26-29th.
Real Estate Millions: Home + History Tour - VIDEO
A 1963 Paradise Palms home. Originally called the Monterey, the open floor plan features a living, dining and kitchen area in main living area, original hardwood flooring, original central vac system, both master bathrooms have original starburst tile and vanities, fully renovated kitchen with quartz counters and new appliances, waterfall edge island with counter seating, ‘Cosmos,’ a Soviet-inspired lounge with fog machine, laser lights, sound system and full bar, fresh paint, retro furnishings, new carpet, pool, pool deck with seating and covered bar, lifetime block and steel construction.
Real Estate Millions: Jim Rhodes Home Most Expensive In Las Vegas - VIDEO
Jim Rhodes has created the most expensive home on the market in Las Vegas. The home is listed at $29,995,000, 9,798 sq. ft., 8 Bedrooms, 8 Full Baths, 2 Half Baths and has 360-degree views of the Las Vegas Strip.
Pawn Stars Rick Harrison Real Estate Millions - VIDEO
Reality TV star Rick Harrison from Pawn Stars shows his eccentric home off in the Red Rock Country Club. The house is 8,845 square feet. It has five bedrooms, seven bathrooms and three additional rooms. It is listed at $3,999,999.
Real Estate Millions: Boulder City Home (613 Lido Dr) - VIDEO
Sitting on top of a mountain overlooking the Lake Mead recreation area, Scott Baranoff gives a tour of his 4,655 square feet Frank Lloyd-Wright inspired home in Boulder City.
Real Estate Millions: Hard Luck Mine Castle
Real Estate Millions: Flip or Flop Vegas
Real Estate Millions: Myron Martin
Real Estate Millions: $15M Palms Place Penthouse
Phil Maloof’s Palms Place Penthouse, which takes up the entire 59th-floor, is for sale for $15 million. (Samia DeCubas/Real Estate Millions)
Real Estate Millions: The New American Home 2019
Real Estate Millions: The highest-priced condos sold in Las Vegas in 2018
Real Estate Millions: One Queensridge Place
Marc-Andre Fleury selling Las Vegas home for $2.5M - VIDEO
Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has put his custom Southern Highlands home on the market for $2.5 million. The single-story home, built on a .63-acre lot in 2015, measures 5,285 square feet and has a 717-square-foot casita and three-car garage. It has five bedrooms and six baths. Fleury bought the home from former NHL player and fellow Canadian Sheldon Souray, according to public records. When he signed his three-year, $25M contract extension over the summer, Fleury told the media he and his family love Las Vegas and cited its great schools and neighborhoods with a lot of things for kids to do. Fleury said he and his family love their home in Southern Highlands, but wanted to be “closer to the Summerlin area." Home photos courtesy of Ivan Sher Group
Top 10 penthouses for mid-2019

High-rise sales are down in 2019 as buyers look to the home market, but a unit at the Waldorf Astoria fetched the highest price in 2½ years.

Ascaya hosts Robb Report’s Dream Machines

Ascaya, the hillside development in Henderson, turned into a closed course to demonstrate the latest luxury sports utility vehicles that will be showcased in an upcoming issue of a national luxury lifestyle magazine.

Boy Scouts camp in Mount Potosi marketed for future luxury development

Newmark Knight Frank, a commercial brokerage, is marketing some 1,150 acres of land in Mount Potosi, home to the Boy Scouts of America Las Vegas Area Council’s camp, at a listing price of $90 million, according to a press release from Newmark.

Vegas couple remodels retirement home into mini-mansion— VIDEO

After more than 10 years, the Raes are moving again. This time, to a home half the size in Sun City, Summerlin, that they’ve already customized, decorated and outfitted with the finest accouterments.

New Las Vegas mansions draw celebrities

Oakland Raiders President Marc Badain and two YouTube sensations are among the high-profile buyers of the 20 highest priced newly constructed luxury homes closed in 2019.

Luxury new home closings of $1 million-plus up 41 percent in 2019

The new home luxury market is surging during the first six months of 2019 despite a decline in the housing market overall, and MacDonald Highlands and Summerlin continue to dominate the marketplace with a combined 80 new home closings of $1 million or more.

Market has 63 listings of $5 million or more

The sales of existing luxury homes in Southern Nevada remains strong and shows no signs of slowing through the end of the year as the influx of Californians buying up properties continues.

Rhodes’ Spanish Hills home leads top resales of 2019 — VIDEO

An uber luxury Spanish Hills home lived in by its builder Jim Rhodes that set the second highest resale value in Las Vegas history at $16 million tops the list for the most expensive sale so far in 2019.