The new campus for the Vienna University of Economics and Business is one of the most ambitious architectural projects in Austrian post-war history. An “open educational landscape” has been created on 969,000 sq ft in the middle of the Prater area, with six prestigious teams of architects making very different contributions. This includes a seven story angular tower by NO.MAD from Madrid, the glass and aluminium facade of which reflects the surrounding sky and nature. A two-part building by Carme Pinós, characterized by its particular window arrangement, primarily accommodates seminar and project rooms and an innovative lecture hall centre by Austrian architecture collective BUSarchitektur, with multi-functional lecture halls and the Auditorium Maximum. An additional building designed by Japanese architect Hitoshi Abe looks out over the horse racing track Trabrennbahn Krieau and acts as a student centre.
However, the Library/Learning Center by Zaha Hadid forms the centrepiece of the project. The striking roof, which protrudes 82 feet with its characteristic display – a large-surface glass panel extending towards the Prater area – highlights this fact. The building’s facades and roof are covered with elegant aluminum and glass strips.
The university’s ceremonial halls, the Library Cafe and bookstore are located on the ground floor. Visitors are led up through the library via ramps, staircases and all-round galleries in a gentle spiralling movement towards the “cockpit”, with its combination of books, study desks and fantastic views of the campus. Huge lighting strips accentuate the building’s major lines and the stairs of the generous atrium. The best place however belongs to the students, who are able enjoy a phenomenal view of the green Prater area from their library study desks in the protruding section.