After completing a 60-year career, former owner of the nation’s oldest continuously operating planning and landscape architecture firm, Ralph Ochsner, has retired.
Led by Ochsner, Ochsner & Associates acquired the firm of Hare & Hare in 1979. The company was originally founded in Kansas City in 1910 by Sid Hare and his son, Herbert, a landscape architect who studied under Frederick Law Olmsted at Harvard University. Olmsted is considered the father of American landscape architecture.
After the 2014 merger of Ochsner Hare & Hare with Olsson Associates, the company became Ochsner Hare & Hare, a Design Studio of Olsson Associates. Olsson has nearly 30 offices in the Midwest and Southeast, and is a multipractice engineering and design firm.
Ochsner Hare & Hare worked with Olsson Associates on projects before merging, which included The Legends at Village West regional shopping center in Kansas City; the Museum at Prairiefire in Overland Park; the Askarben Village streetscape in Omaha, Nebraska; and the Summit Fair shopping center in Lee’s Summit.
Ochsner is an Oklahoma native and began his career as a city planner in Stillwater, Oklahoma. When his career took him to Independence in 1963, he was director of planning before he was named to that same position in Kansas City.
He left to start his own private planning consulting firm in 1969, Ochsner & Associates, which focused on comprehensive plans, community plans, redevelopment planning, community planning department assistance and ordinance writing. He decided it was time to expand in 1979.
“I picked up the phone and called Hare & Hare and asked if they might to be for sale. As it turned out, they were,” Ochsner said during an interview with Linda Van Hoosen in Olsson Associates’ communications department.
Once Ochsner joined with Hare & Hare, the company provided planning and landscape architecture. Ochsner focused on services that ranged from financing, conceptualization, funding and entitlements to full land planning and designing services through construction.
“Ralph Ochsner’s work extends beyond the office,” Van Hoosen wrote, “and includes service to the Missouri Planning Association, the American Planning Association, the American Institute of Certified Planners, the Urban Land Institute, Rotary Club 13 and Friends of the Library at UMKC.”
Van Hoosen says that Ochsner also played a very active role with the University of Oklahoma, his alma mater, as a member of the Board of Visitors for both the Regional and City Planning program and the College of Architecture. Van Hoosen also states that Ochsner enjoyed passing his experience along to the future generations, and he held appointments at the University of Kansas, University of Missouri-Columbia, Oklahoma State University and Rockhurst University.