Universität WienAn Historical Tour of the University of Vienna

Archiv der Universität Wien



University Buildings

Vienna Biocenter

Business Management Centre

Vienna University Campus

Vienna University Campus


New General Hospital


In the wake of the comprehensive university reforms of the latter 19th century that culminated in the University Organisational Law of 1873, academic life in Vienna reached a high point which it had not enjoyed for many years and which also aroused great interest among the student body. The foundation of many new sections and departments as a result of the increasing differentiation of subject-areas and the growth in student numbers already required considerable physical expansion at the beginning of the 20th Century. New buildings included the Department of Chemistry (1872), The Centre for Meteorology and Magnetism (Hohe Warte, 1872), the Observatory (Türkenschanzstraße 17, 1878), the Department of Anatomy and Zoology (Währingerstraße 13, 1888), the Departments of Physiology and Pharmacology (Währingerstraße 13, 1904), the Department of Botany (Rennweg 14, 1905), the Department of Hygiene (Kinderspitalgasse, 1908), the Department of radium research (Boltzmanngasse 5-7, 1913), together with the new University Clinics (Spitalgasse 23, 1904-11) and the new Departments of Chemistry (Währingerstraße, 1915). Projects for a separate building for the University Library, such as the grand design of Otto Wagner in 1919, or that of the architects Alfred Dreier and Otto Nobis (1952) could not, however, be carried out.

After the end of the first World War, during which time the university had been used as a military hospital, the University grew through the acquisition of a number of older existing buildings such as that of the former Ministry of Agriculture (Liebiggasse 5), and then the Josephinum (Währingerstraße 25) and the abandoned Garrison Hospital (Van Swieten Gasse 1). In 1930 the electrification of the Main Building was completed, and the Rector could proudly announce "... when night falls the University shines out in a sea of light, appropriate to its purpose and activity ...". Soon the new Auditorium Maximum (1935), for which one courtyard of the Main Building had been sacrificed, could be brought into operation.

The destruction caused by the second World War was, for the most part, made good by 1951. As a result of this interest in studies again grew enormously. The widening of access to the universities lead to the problems of the "mass-university", and this was particularly manifest in a regular acute shortage of space. There were many new buildings, but the adaptation of older buildings for academic purposes was also set in motion. Among the newly acquired buildings are: the Neue Institutsgebäude ('NIG', Universitätstraße 7, 1962), which was originally planned for the University Library; the Catholic Theological Faculty in a restored historic building on the Ring (Schottenring 21, 1973); the University Schmelz Sports Centre (1973); parts of the Old University (Postgasse 9, 1980); the Althanstraße Biological Centre (UZA I), near the Business University (Althastraße 14, 1982), whose former home in the Währingerpark (Franz Klein Gasse 1) was acquired by the University of Vienna and subsequently converted for the Department of Interpreting and the Archaeological centre. The same year saw the opening of the University's most spectacular building to date: the Juridicum (Schottenbastei 10-16), a modern "glass palace" that could accommodate the dean's offices, the Faculty Library and a considerable proportion of the Legal Departments. We should also mention the Centre for Business Management ('BWZ', Brünnerstraße 72) that was opened in 1991 (section I and II) and 1994 (section III), as well as the new building of the Department of Media and Communication Studies (Schopenhauerstraße 32, 1991). The newly established Vienna Biocenter ('VBC', or 'Biozentrum Dr. Bohrgasse' 9) was completed in 1992. It serves as a laboratory and a departmental building for both the Faculty of Formal and Natural Sciences and the Faculty of Medicine. In the same year the extension to the department of Botany was also completed. 1994 also saw the transfer of the University Clinics to the New General Hospital - the largest building complex to be completed in Vienna this century, and the adaptation of the Old General Hospital for the use of the Faculty of Humanities was set in motion. In 1995 came the opening of the University Centre in Althanstraße Phase II ('UZA II', Althanstraße 14), in which the Pharmaceutical Centre and the Geo-Centre are now housed.

The major building expansions of recent decades could not, however, keep pace with the growth in student numbers nor with the differentiation and multiplication of academic disciplines. Shortage of space and physical dislocation, with the unfavourable working conditions, became one of the University's greatest problems and threatened to disrupt reasonable and economically viable academic work.

The largest single project, which is intended to alleviate the pressing shortage of space, was undoubtedly the conversion of the Old General Hospital in the Vienna University Campus. This was opened on 16th October 1998. In 1988 the City of Vienna had very generously given to the University the hospital complex of 96,000 m2 with its historic courtyards and buildings, some of which date back to 1693. This was a landmark in the co-operation between the City and University of Vienna. The University seized this unique opportunity, and this former alms house and, subsequently, hospital was converted, after a 10-year process of planning and reconstruction, into the Vienna University Campus - a green oasis for meeting, research, learning and teaching, but also for cultural and recreational purposes, within easy reach of the University Main Building. The financing of this major project was guaranteed by the gift from the City and the provision of government funding, but also by an 'external fund-raising project' of the University that points a way to the future. The complex brings together 15 departments of the Faculty of Humanities that were previously scattered over a wide area. For the first time, therefore, in the long history of the Alma Mater Rudolphina, an idea that was already suggested in the Duke Rudolf IV's Deed of Foundation (12th March 1365) has been realised: the creation of a University Campus. In those days the idea was rather to create a "ghetto", substantially distinct from the civil community and even separated by walls. Since most of the mediaeval scholars were drawn from the ecclesiastical classes, this was thought of as a "priests' city". The Vienna University Campus that has now come into being is quite the opposite, and is characterised by openness, accessibility and integration into its civic environment.

The small "study community" of the Middle Ages, with its few thousand students has today grown into a medium-sized town with almost 90,000 inhabitants, with homes at 96 different addresses within the City of Vienna and at various other research locations in Lower Austria (Himberg, Schöpfl), Upper Austria (Grünau im Almtal), Salzburg (Dienten), and so on. This short overview of the history of building developments at the University gives an impressive picture of the present scale of what is, without question, the largest research and teaching institution in Austria.

Lit.: BWL-Zentrum Brünnerstraße, ed. Bundesministerium für Wissenschaft und Forschung (Wien 1992); Das Wiener Allgemeine Krankenhaus. Universitätskliniken, ed. Ernst Wildling, Adolf Müller, Voest-Alpine-Medizintechnik (Wien 1994); Ernst Hiesmayr, Juridicum. Universität Wien (Wien 1996); Neubauten […] an den Hochschulen in Wien 1894–1913 (Wien 1913); Universitätscampus Wien, 2 Bände, ed. Alfred Ebenbauer – Wolfgang Greisenegger – Kurt Mühlberger (Wien 1998); Günther Winkler, Das "Juridicum". In: Juridicum online