Franz-Josefs-Bahnhof

Glaspalast

Location

Vienna, Austria

48.22687, 16.36094

Author

Karl Schwanzer, Kurt Hlaweniczka, Harry Glück, Thomas Reinthaller, Franz Requat

- Architects

Built in

1978

The current building replaced an earlier one, the old Gründerzeit railway station, which had been built in 1872 to plans by the architects Adalbert Ullmann and Anton Barvicius.

The Franz-Josef-Bahnhof is essentially part of a large housing complex consisting of different building types with dedicated uses. The whole complex is built on the Althangrund in Vienna’s ninth administrative district. Today the entire site is an urban development area some 2.4 hectares in size managed by the municipal department for urban planning and zoning, the MA 21 Stadtteilplanung und Flächennutzung. A spatial model for further development was drawn up and implemented by the Stadtentwicklungskommission (STEK) in 2017, as part of a citizens’ participation scheme.

The building section known as the Glaspalast, comprised of the Franz-Josef-Bahnhof terminus railway station and its superstructure, is located on Julius-Tandler-Platz at the very front of the Althangrund. The building was recently acquired by the real estate development group 6B47 Real Estate Investors AG for EUR 115,000,000. Two years later, plans for the Althan Quartier—a modern quarter around the Franz-Josef-Bahnhof with offices, shops, some 750 apartments and a preserved, though renovated and modified, glass façade and entrance hall—were presented to the public. The plans were turned down by the residents and authorities, mainly because they included plans for a high-rise building. A final decision has yet to be made.

The current building replaced an earlier one, the old Gründerzeit railway station, which had been built in 1872 to plans by the architects Adalbert Ullmann and Anton Barvicius. The former station, a monument dating to the Habsburg monarchy, was modelled on the Gare de l’Est in Paris. Although it remained almost intact after the Second World War, the railway station was renovated and modified in 1948.

The dilapidated station was finally demolished in 1974. A team of renowned architects including Karl Schwanzer, Kurt Hlaweniczka, Harry Glück, Thomas Reinthaller and Franz Requat drew up plans for a new railway station. The building with the iconic glass façade was completed in 1978 and incorporated into a new building complex that encompassed a passenger and freight station, offices, a mall, a bank and sections of the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration (WU). The Franz-Josef-Bahnhof thus became the first multifunctional building complex in Vienna and a role model for other architectural highlights around the country.

Discussions about the future use of the building complex began when the University decided to relocate elsewhere in 2007. The railway station is still in operation despite its dwindling importance and the Austrian federal railway’s proposals to tear it down in 2011. According to the new owner’s plans, railway operations will continue in the years to come.

Text by Joshua Koeb

Function

1978Mixed: train station, bank, police station, mall, university

2018 Mixed: train station, mall

Ownership

1978 Republik Österreich, ÖBB

2018 ÖBB, 6B47 Real Estate Investors AG (since 2015)

Condition

1978 Good

2018 Good

Property Management

1978 Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft (BIG)

2018

Form of government

1978 Parliamentary Republic

2018 Parliamentary Republic

Spatial Planning Agency

1978

2018 MA 21 Stadtteilplanung und Flächennutzung, Stadtentwicklungskommission (STEK)

Type of heritage and protection

1978

2018 Not recognised as heritage

Interview with Dariusch F.

Taxi Driver

Transcription
We used to have a bank account here with Bank Austria, back in the 1990s. That’s how long I’ve known the building. Bank Austria was up there, and now and again we’d do guarantee transactions there. – There, yeah; up until the late 1990s as far as I can remember. There was a police station there and so on. – So it should remain. Not like all the other buildings that they pull down and then build another one. Because that’s a nice building; they should keep it. They could rent it out, there’s lots of space up there. It’s a nice building, it can stay. – As for Inland Revenue building in the 19th district, on Nussdorferstrasse, I always think it’s a pity that it got pulled down. Or other beautiful big buildings that have been knocked down. Like that glass palace, along the No. 2 tram line. That was also nice. But when you’ve got so much money that you don’t know what to do with it, you can afford to carry out these projects. But, you know, you could invest the money elsewhere.

Interview with Hermann S.

Local resident

Transcription
Yes, that was the old railway station. Yeah, when was that? I moved here in 69. I think it was in the 1970s, last century. – I don’t recall, I really don’t recall that there were protests. It was full of life. There was Bank Austria in there, and yes, lots of shops. On the one hand; on the other, there was Austria Tabak there, where I spent my working life, some 400 employees. Now you’ve got KPMG there, that’s also 300 employees, but they’re always travelling around the world. Again, you’ve got shops all around. The discount store over there, Armin-Center, that’s a good local shop because they’ve got everything, well, that used to be the famous clothes store Zum Eisenbahner. A shop where local people bought all kinds of clothes.

Interview with Liselotte P.

Local resident

Transcription
So apparently they’re going to pull it down. I’m all for it. I think a shopping centre would be good for here because the nearest one is a long way away. I think, like that Q19 in Döbling, they could do something similar here.