Christina Briggs has helped build habitats for animals ranging from real-life tigers to make-believe dinosaurs.

As the recently named director of national business development at Valley Crest, a landscape and site construction company in Calabasas, Briggs has been charged with bringing in new clients especially those building "themed entertainment" projects.

She formerly was director of business at Rock & Waterscape Systems, where she won contracts for such projects as a natural animal habitat for the tigers owned by Las Vegas entertainers Siegfried & Roy. Briggs, 47, also helped her former employer win a construction contract on the "Jurassic Park" theme ride at Universal Studios.

"We were in charge of fabricating all the artificial rock-work and vines and tress," she said. Her background mostly has been in overseeing projects that involve what she calls "naturalistic themes" projects related to recreating natural environments.

Another project landed by Briggs was the "Animal Kingdom" attraction at Disneyworld.

"We took a site that was absolutely nothing and made it look like it had been there forever," she said. "You're creating a very safe place for people to go, where you can see (living) animals in their natural habitats."

Before she built fantasy worlds, Briggs worked in real estate. At one point, she was the owner-broker of First Properties, which specialized in selling land for retail and residential developers. But she eventually tired of it.

"I decided after 20 years it was time to move on to something different," Briggs said,

The addition of Briggs is part of an effort by Valley Crest, a susidiary of Environmental Industries, to build up its themed-environment business. She serves on the board of the Themed Entertainment Association and is a member of the International Conference of Shopping Centers and the Urban Land Institute.

Some of the high-profile projects worked on by Valley Crest include the Getty Center in Los Angeles, the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, and Universal Studios' "Islands of Adventure" attraction at its theme park in Orlando, Fla.

"I want to pursue more thematic and entertainment-type projects," Briggs said. "Anything that cuts new ground from the naturalistic-type environment is something that appeals to me."

When asked what her dream projects would be, Briggs laughed and replied, "I think we've been working on them."

Chris Denina

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