History of the faculty

TU Wien was ceremoniously opened by Emperor Franz II on November 6th, 1815, as the Royal & Imperial (R.I.) Polytechnic Institute in Vienna.

Johann Joseph Ritter von Prechtl was appointed as its first director, a position that he maintained until 1849. As a German-born Austrian engineer and liberal visionary, humanist, and educator, he contributed profoundly to its promising organisational and curricular programme, with principles of learning, research and teaching freedom for instructors and students. Set against the background of fundamental social and economical transformations, accompanying revolutions in technological development, and in response to increasingly vociferous calls since 1848 for the reformation of higher engineering training, Emperor Franz Josef I approved a plan for the Reorganisation of the Technical Institutes in 1851. The rapid acceleration of knowledge gain also demanded a thorough revision of the engineering curricula. As early as 1865, an entirely reformed concept for the institute was launched and five new departments/schools were founded in the academic year of 1866/67:

  • General Department of Preparatory Subjects and Schools for:
  • Road- and Waterway Engineering (Civil Engineering School)
  • Building Construction Engineering (Building School)
  • Machine Engineering (Mechanical Engineering School)
  • Chemical Technologies (Chemical Engineering School)

The commercial department was closed down, which opened the way for the institute’s academic focus on the core of engineering disciplines.

On April 10th, 1872, the R.I. Polytechnic Institute was formally re-established as the R.I. College of Engineering. Its organisational structure survived two world wars and remained essentially unchanged until 1945.

The R.I. College of Engineering was accredited to grant the academic title of Doctor of Science (ScD, Dr. techn.) as of 1901. Women were first admitted as fully matriculated students in the academic year 1919/29.

In 1923, organisational changes during the first republic of Austria resulted in far-reaching transformations in the training of structural engineers and architects. The establishment of new sub-departments between 1926 and 1927 led to the first introduction of a 3-semester master class programme at the Building School (master class for the discipline Building/Architecture).

Admission to the programme required passing of the 2nd-level state exam and was subsequently based upon a competitive process. Programme exams thus became academically equivalent to those of the master school of architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.

The year 1928 brought the formal re-designation of all schools as faculties. After the 2nd World War, the rapidly expanding body of knowledge in the natural sciences and engineering immediately found its way into all areas of life. This opened unprecedented opportunities for the faculties of the Vienna University of Technology to embrace new and sustainable growth potentials at the core of their research and teaching curricula. After a transitional period with just three faculties in 1940 (Natural Sciences, Building Construction, Mechanical Engineering), an extension to five was made just five years later.

Three consolidated faculties were then established on the basis of the new Higher Education Law that was enacted in the year 1995 (Architecture and Building Engineering, Natural Sciences, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering).

The academic year 1970/71 brought the founding of an academic programme for Spatial and Regional Planning.

Based on the University Organisation Law of 1975, the College of Engineering in Vienna became the Vienna University of Technology. The unification of the spatial planning and architecture programmes in one faculty, a unique configuration in the European university landscape, allows that architects and planners could be trained side-by-side for their future roles in shaping the built environment. At this point, four other faculties existed alongside the Faculty of Architecture and Regional Planning at TU Wien. Revisions of the University Organisation Law in 1993 and 1999 brought extended freedoms to the universities to shape their own faculty structures.

In the course of enactment of the currently valid University Organisation Law of 2002, the following set of 8 faculties is now formally established at the Vienna University of Technology:

  • Faculty of Architecture & Regional Planning
  • Faculty of Civil Engineering
  • Faculty Mechanical Engineering & Business Administration
  • Faculty of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
  • Faculty of Physics
  • Faculty of Chemical Engineering
  • Faculty of Mathematics & Geo-Information
  • Faculty of Informatics

The current architecture and planning faculty structure has been in force since October 1st, 2004, and is organised hierarchically from the dean’s office through five institutes (architecture) and one global department (regional planning), as well as the common computer laboratory. Based on the preceding institute units, the current institutes and departments are differentiated by research and teaching foci.

Former lecturers and graduates of the Faculty of Architecture and Planning

A selection of former lecturers and graduates of the Faculty of Architecture and Planning:

Herbert Boeckl (* June 3, 1894, in Klagenfurt; † January 20, 1966, in Vienna) was an Austrian painter and one of the primary proponents of the Austrian Modern. Boeckl was rejected from the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts in 1912 and proceeded to study at the College of Engineering. He became a private student of Adolf Loos.

Erich Boltenstern (* June 21, 1896, in Vienna; † June 9, 1991, same) was an Austrian architect and studied at the College of Engineering in Vienna 1918-22. He was assistant professor 1928-34 with Oskar Strnad at the Applied Arts School and 1934-36 with Clemens Holzmeister at the Academy of Fine Arts, where he assumed the positions of master class head in lieu of Peter Behrens (1936-38) and Clemens Holzmeister (1945-52). Between 1938 and 1945 he was suspended from his appointments, but was designated professor for housing architecture as of 1946 and served as dean of the architecture faculty at the College of Engineering from 1959 to 1960.

Heinrich Freiherr von Ferstel (* July 7, 1828, in Vienna; † July 14, 1883, same) was an Austrian architect and is considered an outstanding representative of historicism. Upon completion of his degree at the R.I. Polytechnic, he continued studies at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts in the master classes of van der Nüll and Siccardsburg.

Fritz von Herzmanovsky-Orlando (* April 30, 1877, as Friedrich Josef Franz Ritter von Herzmanowsky, in Vienna; † May 27, 1954, at Schloss Rametz in Meran) was an Austrian writer and graphic artist. He attended the Theresianum academic school in Vienna, after which he completed his building design studies at the Vienna College of Engineering.

Ernst Hiesmayr (* May 11, 1920, in Innsbruck; † August 6, 2006, in Bregenz) was an Austrian architect. From 1945 to 1948, he studied architecture at the College of Engineering in Graz, after which he worked as an independent architect in Tyrol, Vorarlberg, and Vienna. He completed his doctoral studies at the Vienna College of Engineering in 1967 and there was appointed head professor to the Institute of Building Construction in 1968. He served as dean of the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Architecture in 1973 and as rector (president) of the Vienna University of Technology from 1975 to 1977.

Clemens Holzmeister (* March 27, 1886, in Fulpmes, Tyrol; † June 12, 1983 in Hallein, Salzburg) was an Austrian architect, who was active in Austria, Germany, Turkey, and Brazil. He was born as a Brazilian citizen in Fulpmes, Tyrol, and attended secondary school in Innsbruck, after which a went to the College of Engineering in Vienna, where he earned his doctoral degree.

Friedrich Kiesler (* September 22, 1890, in Austro-Hungarian Czernowitz, modern-day Ukraine; † December 27, 1965, in New York City) was an Austro-American architect, artist, product and theatre set designer. He spent the first part of his life in Europe before emigrating to the United States in 1926. From 1908 to 1909, he studied both at the College of Engineering and the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna.

Gottfried Neumann-Spallart (* March 29, 1915, in Vienna; † May 5, 1983, same) worked internationally as a theatre set and costume designer. After completing his secondary education at the “Schottengymnasium” in Vienna, he pursued studies at the College of Engineering 1933-38 and completed his degree at the “Special School for Theatre Production and Artistic Graphic Advertising” in Vienna. From 1950 to 1967 he acted as professor for theatre set design at the Vienna College of Music and Performing Arts.

Richard Joseph Neutra (* April 8, 1892, in Vienna; † 16. April 16, 1970, in Wuppertal) was an Austrian architect, who was active primarily in Southern California, where he became renowned as a key representative of the Classic Modern style. He studied at the College of Engineering in Vienna, where he was influenced by Adolf Loos and Otto Wagner.

Eduard van der Nüll (baptised January 9, 1812, in Vienna Wien; † April 4, 1868, same) was an Austrian architect regarded as a principle master of the Viennese Ring Avenue historicism. After completing his studies at the R.I. Polytechnic in Vienna and studies at the Academy (with Peter von Nobile, Paul Wilhelm Eduard Sprenger, and Carl Roesner, among others), he set out for extended study trips throughout western Europe with his friend.

Roland Rainer (* May 1, 1910, in Klagenfurt; † April 10, 2004, in Vienna) is regarded as one of the most significant 20th-century architects of Austria. He evolved a coherent theory of housing from single-family dwellings to urban developments in the course of numerous publications, encompassing ideas of natural living in high-density, private-home developments and adapting concepts that find their origins in ancient history (atrium houses) and the far east (garden town of Puchenau/Linz, 1966-82). He studied architecture at the Vienna College of Engineering from 1928 to 1933, completing his doctoral degree with a dissertation on the Karlsplatz (St. Charles’ Square) in Vienna. In the academic year 1953/54 he was appointed as professor for Housing, Urban and Regional Planning at the Hannover College of Engineering, 1955/56 as professor for Building Construction and Design at the Graz College of Engineering, and 1956-80 as head of the Master School for Architecture at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. He also served as urban planner for the City of Vienna in the years 1958-63.

Rudolph Michael Schindler (* September 10, 1887, in Vienna; † August 22, 1953, in Los Angeles, California) was an Austrian-born, US-American architect., who was primarily active in the greater metropolitan area of Los Angeles and is regarded as a key proponent of the “Classic Modern” era in architecture. He studied civil engineering and architecture at the College of Engineering in Vienna from 1906 to 1913, where he worked with Richard Neutra, student of Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos.

Karl Schwanzer (* May 21, 1918, in Vienna; † August 20, 1975, same) was an Austrian architect and significant representative of post-war architecture on the European continent. He studied architecture at the College of Engineering in Vienna and completed his degree in 1940.

Hans Sedlmayr (* January 18, 1896, in Hornstein; † July 9, 1984, in Salzburg) was an Austrian art historian, who studied architecture at the College of Engineering and art history at Vienna University. His doctoral thesis with Julius von Schlosser was a treatment of the baroque architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach. He later turned to structuralism and further developed the ideas of Alois Riegl to establish himself as the founder of structural analysis in the sciences of art, which is particularly evident in his seminal work Verlust der Mitte (Loss of the Centre).

August Sicard von Sicardsburg (* December 6, 1813, in Buda, Hungary; † June 11, 1868, in Weidling near Vienna) was an Austrian architect and, together with Eduard van der Nüll (1812-1868), built the Vienna State Opera House in the years 1861-1869. They won the prestigious competition for the new opera house, which should be the first monumental building along the new Viennese Ringstraße (ring avenue) encircling the inner city district. He also was named assistant professor at the Vienna Polytechnic in 1835.

Camillo Sitte (* April 17, 1843, in Vienna; † November 16, 1903, same) was an Austrian architect, urban planner, theorist, and painter. He was born in Vienna 1843 and studied at the Vienna College of Engineering from 1864 to 1869 with Heinrich Ferstel, among others.

Luis Trenker, born as Alois Franz Trenker (* Oktober 4, 1892, in St. Ulrich in Gröden, South Tyrol, then Austro-Hungary; † April 12, 1990, in Bozen, South Tyrol, Italy), was a mountaineer, actor, director, and writer, who became famous for his Alpine films. After attending the Building & Applied Arts School in Bozen 1903-05, he completed his secondary education at the R.I. Academic School in Innsbruck before continuing his studies as an architecture student at the College of Engineering in Vienna.

Otto Koloman Wagner (* July 13, 1841, in Vienna-Penzing; † April 11, 1918, in Vienna) was a significant Austrian architect, theorist, and urban planner. His Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) buildings, university work, and publications on urban planning pushed him into the international spotlight from the 1890’s through the turn of the century. He attended the Viennese Academic High School for two years from 1850 before finishing his secondary education at the Konvikt Kremsmünster (boarding school). From 1857 to 1862, he studied architecture at the Royal Academy in Berlin and in Vienna, first at the R.I. Polytechnic Institute and then at the Academy of Fine Arts.

Rudolf Wurzer (* May 3, 1920, in Mörtschach, Carinthia; † September 2, 2004, in Vienna) was an Austrian architect and tenured professor at the Vienna University of Technology, where he taught urban and regional planning. He also served as city councilman for urban planning in the Viennese provincial government. His professional career started in Carinthia, where he was responsible for the increasingly important traffic node of Villach from 1946 to 1956 and the entire province from 1948 on. He founded the Austrian Society for the Advancement of Regional Research and Planning in 1954 and was appointed professor for regional planning at the College of Engineering (later TU Wien) in 1959.