Alexander Koch was born in Zurich in 1848. From 1867 until 1870 he attended the architectural school at Eidgenöss, Switzerland from which he obtained a place in the office of Gottfried Semper in Vienna working on competition designs for the Ringstrasse. In 1870-71 he studied at the architectural school in Berlin, returning to Zurich in the latter year to commence practice in partnership with Heinrich Ernst as Koch & Ernst. In 1885 Koch withdrew from the partnership to settle in London where he attended the South Kensingto Schools as a visitor to gain an understanding of art and architectural education in England. He appears to have formed a partnership with the perspectivist Charles William English in 1890 for entering the competition for the Copenhagen Rathus.
Although he continued to practice in Zurich in the late 1880s and early 1890s, he commenced a new career as an architectural publisher as editor-proprietor of ‘Academy Architecture and Architectural Review’ in 1889 with Charles William English assisting with the drawings. This quickly developed into two volumes a year comprising representative selections of work exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Glasgow Institute, and selected works from continental academies. In 1905-10 Koch published in parallel ‘British Competitions in Architecture’ which included the premiated designs, any others which caught Koch’s interest, and assessors’ reports. Koch died in May 1911. The management of Academy Architecture was taken over by his son A E (Hugh) Koch who excluded Royal Scottish Academy and Royal Glasgow Institute exhibits from subsequent issues.
Although the family was Swiss and not German, Hugh and his brother Neil found it necessary to change their name to Martin-Kaye during the First World War. Hugh founded the parallel periodical publication ‘Architecture Illustrated’ and continued publishing ‘Academy Architecture’ in association with B T Batsford until the depression of 1931. These later issues were restricted to London Royal Academy exhibits and examples of building types selected from invited materials almost wholly English with occasional examples of American and colonial work. Neil Martin-Kaye was also an architect and became first principal of Southend School of Architecture.