“Ralph was a talented architect, but carried a humble pride for the profession and the firm he founded. I always appreciated that he welcomed me not as a female partner, but as a partner to Koch Hazard Architects along with my talents as an individual,” said Stacey McMahan, partner at Koch Hazard. “He cared deeply about service to the community of Sioux Falls, for his staff, and providing a great service to clients.”
Ralph, son of Ralph and Agnes (Janda) Koch, was born on November 1, 1928, in Omaha, NE. Ralph graduated from the University of Nebraska with an architectural degree in 1951. After spending two years in the Army, he joined Hugil, Blatherwick, Fritzle and Kroeger as a designer. Ralph became a registered architect in 1957 and joined Howard Parezo and Associates for almost four years before opening his own firm in June of 1961, Ralph Koch Architects.
He based his firm upon providing the best service possible for the client, with the client being the most important part of the team, a principal still practiced today. Ralph’s early clients included the City of Sioux Falls, the State of South Dakota, Raven Industries, Lewis Drug, Sunshine Food, various churches, the Sioux Falls School District, other school districts, Norwest Bank (Wells Fargo) and many other private and corporate clients.
In 1969, Ralph’s good friend Bob Hazard joined him as a partner and the name of the firm was changed to Koch Hazard Architects. Giving back to the community was an important part of the firm. Koch Hazard Architects became active in the Junior Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber, Achieve, Children’s Home Society and other organizations and boards. Under Ralph’s leadership, the firm was also active in local, state and national American Institute of Architects (AIA).
Ralph retired from Koch Hazard Architects in 1992 but would still stop by the office several times a year.
photo: Ralph and Jane in the photo booth at Koch Hazard’s 50th Anniversary celebration in 2011