Landscape architect, urban scholar Emmet L. Wemple
Emmet L. Wemple, an internationally acclaimed landscape architect, ardent Los Angeles preservationist and founding director of the Master of Landscape Architecture Program, died of complications following heart surgery, Wednesday, June 5, in Los Angeles. He was 75.
Architecture critics have characterized Wemple’s “lively” work – including the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, the Nixon Presidential Library and Birthplace in Yorba Linda, and the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo — as “conceived with attention to cultural values and a sensitivity to the nature of the places in which the projects occur.”
As president of Emmet L. Wemple & Assoc. Landscape Architects, based first in the MacArthur Park section of Los Angeles and, later, in Pasadena, Wemple was responsible for numerous noteworthy projects, including the grounds and parks of downtown’s Angelus Plaza senior citizen housing, the Otis-Parsons Design Institute, Paramount and Warner Bros. studios, Valencia Town Center, the Naval Medical Regional Center in San Diego, Watt/Harris Hall on USC’s University Park Campus and the grounds of UCLA.
His foreign projects included El Salvador’s government center master plan and various children’s parks in Central America.
“Landscape architects give life to a city,” Wemple told the Los Angeles Times in a 1989 interview. “We’re interested in the total effect, the way all the bits and pieces of architecture and planning fit together to make a coherent social and physical environment that’s humane and lively. We provide the vital glue that binds all the elements together to make a livable metropolis.”
A life member and past president of the USC Architectural Guild, Wemple was a faculty member of the USC School of Architecture from 1951 to 1988 and founding director of the school’s Master of Landscape Architecture Program.
In 1989, he served as interim dean of the School of Architecture while heading the selection committee for a new dean. He was a member of the dean’s advisory council, the Freeman House Commission and the board of overseers for the Gamble House.
“In a recent survey, Professor Wemple was singled out by the alumni of the School of Architecture as the faculty member who most influenced their education and lives,” said Robert H. Timme, dean of the school. “Emmet was beloved and respected by generations of young architects.”
Wemple served on the boards of the Los Angeles Conservancy, Project Restore for Los Angeles City Hall, Los Angeles Beautiful and the Los Angeles Urban Design Coalition. He was a fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architecture and an honorary member of the American Institute of Architects.
He was awarded the USC Architectural Guild’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1988, the Fred B. Olds Support Group Award in 1989 and the Alumni Merit Award in 1992. The School of Architecture established the Emmet L. Wemple Endowment for Landscape Architecture in his honor.
He received the California Council of Landscape Architecture Award for Leadership, and, in 1992, served as a juror on the Presidential Design Achievement Awards in Washington, D.C.
A native of San Francisco, Wemple was a 1947 graduate of the USC School of Fine Arts. He is survived by his wife, Meguila Seno Wemple, an alumna of USC’s School of Music.�