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
1978Mixed: train station, bank, police station, mall, university
2018 Mixed: train station, mall
1978 Republik Österreich, ÖBB
2018 ÖBB, 6B47 Real Estate Investors AG (since 2015)
1978 Bundesimmobiliengesellschaft (BIG)
Form of government
1978 Parliamentary Republic
2018 Parliamentary Republic
Spatial Planning Agency
2018 MA 21 Stadtteilplanung und Flächennutzung, Stadtentwicklungskommission (STEK)
Type of heritage and protection
2018 Not recognised as heritage
Interview with Dariusch F.
Interview with Hermann S.
Interview with Liselotte P.