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Frederick E. Emmons; Retired L.A. Architect

Obituaries

August 28, 1999|DIANE HAITHMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Frederick E. Emmons, a retired Los Angeles architect best known for his award-winning partnership with A. Quincy Jones Jr. in designing tract homes for Joseph Eichler's modern, air-conditioned housing developments in the 1950s, died at his Belvedere, Calif., home Monday after a short illness. He was 91.

The firm of Jones & Emmons, formed in 1950, designed numerous commercial and institutional facilities, including major buildings on five University of California campuses. Still, Emmons and the late Jones, who served as dean of USC's School of Architecture from 1975 to 1978, were most celebrated for their work with the more modest Eichler homes.

Eichler is credited with integrating California's suburban housing; homes in his Balboa Hills development in Granada Hills were the first in the San Fernando Valley outside Pacoima to be open to African American buyers.

Friends and relatives describe Emmons as the less flamboyant but equally important partner in the firm.

"I think he was probably better with the clients; he was more even-tempered," said his daughter, Carolyn Jones, in a telephone conversation from Emmons' Belvedere home. (Her husband, Owen Jones, is no relation to A. Quincy Jones.) "Quincy had more of an artistic temperament."

She added that her father gained recognition in his own right in 1954, when he built their family home in Pacific Palisades, a stucco structure with inside walls of glass, facing a courtyard built around seven live oaks. "It won all sorts of awards," she said.

Emmons, who retired from architecture in the early 1970s, moved to Belvedere in 1973, where he spent 13 years as chairman of the city Planning Commission and was selected as Citizen of the Year in 1985. Besides becoming a community activist, he launched a new career, writing books about passenger ships and ocean liners.

"I have a feeling that most people didn't realize that there were two separate parts to his life," his daughter said. "People in L.A. know him as an architect; here, they knew him as a Belvedere resident and the man who loved cruises."

Born in Olean, N.Y., in 1907, Emmons graduated from Cornell University's College of Architecture, Art and Planning in 1929. After two years in the New York office of McKim, Mead & White, he moved to Los Angeles in 1932. Emmons' resume also included a year with William Wurster in San Francisco. Emmons' late brother Donn eventually became a partner in the firm that is now Wurster, Bernardi & Emmons.

During World War II, Frederick Emmons spent four years in the Navy, including 30 months as commanding officer of the attack transport ship Feland.

He and Jones met when they both began to carve out architecture careers in Los Angeles. They founded Jones & Emmons in 1950.

Emmons' wife of 50 years, Cynthia, died in 1991. In addition to his daughter, he is survived by grandchildren Trevor Jones and Lindsay Caruso.

No services are planned. Donations may be made to the Alzheimer's Assn., 4340 Redwood Highway, San Rafael, CA 94903.

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