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Robert H. Timme, 60; Dean of USC School of Architecture Aided Wright House Project

October 25, 2005|From a Times Staff Writer

Robert H. Timme, an expert on architectural design and history who was dean of the USC School of Architecture for the last nine years, died at his Century City home Oct. 20 of complications of lung cancer. He was 60.

Timme came to USC in 1996 from the University of Houston College of Architecture, where he had served as dean and for more than two decades had taught design and design theory.

He also was a founding partner of Taft Architects, an award-winning Houston firm.

In Los Angeles, Timme raised $1.3 million for the long-delayed restoration of a Frank Lloyd Wright house that had been bequeathed to USC in 1986 by its original owners, Sam and Harriet Freeman.

The Hollywood Hills home, one of a handful in Los Angeles that Wright built using concrete blocks, had been deteriorating for years because USC lacked sufficient funds to renovate it.

With funding from the J. Paul Getty Trust, USC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Timme turned the crumbling house into a laboratory for USC architecture students.

In 2002, USC teachers and students, working in collaboration with Los Angeles Trade Tech College machinists, began renovating the house with new blocks based on virtual 3-D models.

Timme also chaired the Design Advisory Council for the Los Angeles Unified School District, which in 2002 was launching an ambitious $2-billion construction program.

Under Timme's leadership, the council tried to encourage progressive designs for 85 new campuses and organized two symposiums to stimulate and improve the design process.

His work with the district was cited by the American Institute of Architects' Los Angeles chapter, which in giving him the 2002 Presidential Citation said his leadership "raised the bar and ambition" of the massive building program.

A Houston native who earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in architecture from Rice University, Timme joined the University of Houston faculty in 1971.

A year later, he founded Taft Architects with two former classmates.

His work with Taft won more than 65 design awards, including three consecutive national American Institute or Architects Honor Awards.

Timme is survived by his wife, Katherine; a daughter, Elizabeth; two stepsons, Michael and Nicholas; a brother; and a sister.

Memorial contributions may be made to the USC School of Architecture.

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