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Finding Aid of the Emmet Wemple papers 4001
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Preferred Citation
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Use
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Arrangement
  • Acquisition note
  • Separated Materials

  • Title: Emmet Wemple papers
    Collection number: 4001
    Contributing Institution: Archivists' Toolkit
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 215.0 Cubic feet (43 drawers, three cabinets (marked drawers 10A-C) and one upright box housing architectural drawings; 81 boxes of project files, research and miscellaneous; and 29 binders of slides.)
    Date (bulk): Bulk, 1970-1995
    Date (inclusive): 1960-1996
    Abstract: USC alumnus Emmet Wemple was an influential landscape architect based in Southern California. Wemple and his firm Emmet L. Wemple & Associates had participated in an impressive array of national and international projects, including those for civic master planning, academic institutions, commercial and retail facilities, hotels, convention centers, museums, libraries, residences, housing developments and recreational facilities. Spanning from the 1960s to 1995, the bulk of the collection consists of approximately 800 rolls of architectural drawings (with about 20 drawings in each roll) for some 2,000 projects.
    creator: Wemple, Emmet L., (Emmet Leroy), 1920-1996

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Emmet Wemple Papers, Helen Topping Architecture and Fine Arts Library, USC Libraries, University of Southern California.

    Conditions Governing Access

    The portions of the collection that have been processed are open for research use. Advance notice required for access.

    Conditions Governing Use

    The collection contains published materials; researchers are reminded of the copyright restrictions imposed by publishers on reusing their articles and parts of books. It is the responsibility of researchers to acquire permission from publishers when reusing such materials. The copyright to unpublished materials belongs to the heirs of the writers. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

    Biographical Note

    Emmet Wemple (1921-1996) was a renowned Southern California landscape architect, who played a critical role in the development of what has become known as "California Style." He blended architecture and nature in an effort to create a seamless whole. Born in San Francisco, Wemple had spent most of his life in Southern California. He graduated from the USC School of Fine Arts in 1947 and earned his license from the Board of Landscape Architects in 1954. He immediately opened a practice and became President of Emmet L. Wemple & Associates (ELWA), a site planning and urban design firm with offices in Los Angeles and Costa Mesa. The staff consisted of registered architects and landscape architects, with a number of individuals holding advanced degrees in fine arts, horticulture, landscape architecture and architecture.
    Over the course of 40 years, Wemple and his firm completed thousands of jobs both nationally and internationally. The versatile firm worked on a broad variety of projects, everything from large-scale urban design and master planning, corporate and commercial facilities, housing development and recreational centers, to smaller residential commissions. Some notable ones in the United States are the Getty Villa, J. Paul Getty Center, the Richard Nixon Library, Industry Hills, Home Savings of America Headquarters, Magic Mountain, MCA Citywalk (now called Universal CityWalk), Naval Medical Regional Center in San Diego, San Jacinto Civic Center, Valencia Town Center, Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, and various university campuses, including USC and UCLA. International projects had been executed in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan and Central America. Some examples are Taman Anggrek in Indonesia, the El Salvador Government Center and the United Overseas Bank in Singapore. In 1993, due to increasing thefts, the firm moved from its MacArthur Park office in Los Angeles to Pasadena. The firm came to a halt when Wemple passed away in 1996.
    Wemple had a tremendous impact at USC. He was the founding director of the masters program for Landscape Architecture and taught at the school from 1951 to 1988. His wife Meguila Seno Wemple (1930-2009) was an alumna of the USC School of Music. In 1988, Wemple was recognized as the distinguished alumnus of USC, and Ms. Wemple and friends established the Emmet L. Wemple Endowment for Landscape Architecture in his honor. Wemple served as interim dean of the USC School of Architecture in 1989 while heading the selection committee for a new dean. During his career, Wemple was honored as juror for awards, and given much recognition for his leadership and community service.

    Scope and Content

    The archive documents the professional career of southern California landscape architect Emmet Wemple and his firm, Emmet L. Wemple & Associates. The collection covers Wemple's entire career, however the bulk spans the 1970s to 1995, the year before the firm closed, representing approximately 2000 projects. The vastness and variety of the firm's commissions include those for large-scale civic centers, public parks, commercial buildings and shopping malls, and small-scale residential structures. Most of the archive consists of architectural drawings. There are also a substantial quantity of project files with various types of documents, slides of projects, articles about Wemple and horticultural research materials.
    Series 1. Projects is the bulk of the collection, which is loosely organized alphabetically by project name and dated from the 1960s to 1996. Included are approximately 800 rolls of architectural drawings and plans, with about 20 or more in each roll, some of which are hand-drawn in pencil and/or color. Many different projects can be housed in a single roll. Approximately 170 rolls of drawings remain unlabeled and could include projects from the 1960s. They are segregated and will be closed to the public until identification can take place.
    The related project files, most of which date from the early 1980s to 1996, include correspondence, engineering specifications, contracts, invoices, cost calculations, reports, proposals, and photographs. Material of this sort from the 1960s and 70s is generally not included and presumed lost. When applicable, project numbers are given next to project titles. The first two digits of a project number indicate the year the project began; the remaining digits represent a numeric order within a given year.
    Series 2. Slides includes a large quantity of images of finished projects, generally arranged in alphabetical order in binders according to project type. Some of the images are of copies of drawings and plans, presumably made for presentation. There is also a box containing reference images of plants, and a very small quantity of miscellaneous photographic prints.
    Series 3. Articles and Research contains articles about Wemple, including an entire box about the Getty, reports and plans by others, misc. publications, and magazines and books pertaining to plants.
    Series 4. Miscellaneous includes ELWA resumes and articles of incorporation, various Wemple projects outside of ELWA, award certificates received for outstanding work in the field of landscape architecture, and personal letters received.


    The collection is organized into four series: Series 1. Projects; Series 2. Slides; Series 3. Articles and Research; Series 4. Miscellaneous.

    Acquisition note

    The collection was donated to USC Helen Topping Architecture and Fine Arts Library in 1997 after Wemple passed away in 1996.

    Separated Materials

    Approximately 190 folders of large-format negatives of various random drawings, probably made for presentation purposes, were disposed of because of duplication with the original.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Getty Center (Los Angeles, Calif.). -- Archives
    Getty Villa (Malibu, Calif.). -- Archives
    Wemple, Emmet L., (Emmet Leroy), 1920-1996 -- Archives
    Architectural drawings (visual works)
    Landscape architecture--California, Southern--History--20th century--Archival resources
    Slides (photographs)