Harris P. Sharp

Died: 2002-06-10
Primary Profession: Architect
  • Southern Nevada
Notes & References: Architectural Engineer, University of New Mexico -1939, graduate of USC 1943. Retired 1983.

See also Architecture By Five, Harris Sharp & Associates, and Walter Zick and Harris Sharp Architects.

1999 AIA NEVADA DISTINGUISHED SERVICE AWARDS: AIA Nevada Special Recognition Award. UNLV Architecture Studies Library holds: biography, project photos

AIA, Las Vegas Chapter, honors local projects. Construction Connection (Nov. 1999): 18. ASL File #:

Harris Sharp received a 1999 AIA Nevada Special Recognition Award.

Harris was hired by a design company called Worswick and worked on commercial and residential buildings. He stayed with Worswick until 1950 when he and friend Walter Zick formed a partnership, Zick and Sharp. It was an alliance that would last until 1987, when both men retired.

About the time the partnership formed, the test site started setting off bombs. Harris drove young Spence and his little sisters to a spot "about 20 miles from ground zero" to witness one event, held just before daybreak. They weren't the only ones there, it was considered a family outing. The family saw the nighttime blasted away with sudden bright light and watched in awe as the mushroom cloud grew. Later tests rocked buildings and jiggled table lamps but people soon became blasé and no one paid much attention.

Through the years, Zick and Sharp designed some of the city's more notable buildings. Besides the downtown casinos, they designed the library at the university, the Foley Federal Building and the Ford Foundation auditorium in Boulder City as well as banks and other commercial buildings.

Harris made a niche for himself with his innovative, modernist junior and senior high schools and won national awards for those designs. He held the honor of being the architect of the nation's first air-conditioned junior high school -- Hyde Park, 900 Hinson St.

As Las Vegas grew, the Zick and Sharp partnership began remodeling existing hotels like the Golden Nugget, El Rancho, Thunderbird and Flamingo. It was at that last hotel-casino where Harris met the infamous Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel.

"He said Bugsy was 'the kind of guy that if you looked him in the eye and made a promise, you'd better keep it,' " Spence recalled.

Harris not only designed the Plaza, he was co-owner of it for years. Even though he strove for functional floor plans, he also toyed with novel ideas. One of those was putting a swimming pool in the Plaza's second floor, complete with a view of Fremont Street. The pool was later removed. The space is now home to the hotel's Center Stage Restaurant.

During Helldorado's early days, it was customary for the Jaycees and Elks to dress in western wear and carry real six guns loaded with blanks.

Harris, at 6-feet, 2-inches and about 225 pounds, carried two six shooters and was an imposing figure. He and a friend were at Binion's Horseshoe in their western outfits when his friend recognized a crook that had broken into his home.

"So they pulled their Colts out and held this miscreant until the police arrived," Spence recalled.

As city commissioner in the 1950s, Harris held a vision of Las Vegas' future expansion and tried to guide it by that vision. He argued, for example, that Highway 95 have multiple lanes in both directions.

Taken from View, Neighborhood Newspapers, July 17, 2002.

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