Webster Vienna Move Deepens Ties Between Historic City, University

| October 28, 2014
Wenkheim, 1902

Storefronts at the Wenkheim in 1902. From “Die Praterstrasse in der Wiener Leopoldstadt,” 1993.

As Webster University commemorates its past while celebrating its future during the Centennial year, it’s only fitting that the Vienna campus move to a 188-year-old building that will better serve students of tomorrow in one of the world’s greatest cities.

After 33 years in Austria and more than 2,800 alumni, Webster Vienna — known officially in Austria as Webster Vienna Private University — has relocated toward the city center to enable growing enrollment and an even better student experience. The student population at Webster Vienna, which today comes from over 60 countries, has grown by 47 percent since the University received Austrian private university accreditation in 2001.

As President Beth Stroble said when the Palais Wenkheim was confirmed as the new site, this location “more accurately reflects the global excellence of Webster’s academic programs in Vienna. We had simply outgrown our current facilities. This is a tremendous opportunity to improve our ability to advance the work of our faculty and staff and to meet the needs of the exceptional students who study at this location.”

Unrivaled Student Experience

“Palais Wenkheim, with its prime location and stunning architecture, promises an unrivaled student life experience,” Stroble said.

Part of that experience is the residence space for students, now just a 15-minute walk from the Palais Wenkheim. The residential student space at the Residence am Augarten offers a urban student residential life experience for studying at one of Europe’s most wonderful capital cities.

Residence am Augarten

The Residence am Augarten provides residential students easy access to the new campus and the heart of Vienna.

“Years ago, we were in the heart of Vienna. The new campus brings us back to the heart of the city in a 19th-century Palais with 21st-century educational learning spaces,” said Grant Chapman, associate vice president and director of International Programs. “We have always used the city of Vienna as an out-of-classroom laboratory experience for our students. This newly campus enhances that notion as one can easily walk to the city center.”

A Treasure of History

As the only palace on its street to survive both World Wars, the Palais Wenkheim itself represents the best of the old and new: Built in 1826, protected as a historic monument in 1963, it has been renovated and refurbished many times to preserve its character and architecture while meeting changing needs.

“Palais Wenkheim epitomizes Webster University’s creative approach to education, which brings past, present and future together,” said Webster University Provost, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Julian Schuster. “A historic building in the historic downtown of Vienna that hosts a truly global university sends an unequivocal message about the future of higher education.”

Watch the Grand Opening

A student, faculty and alumni grand opening of the new location was held Oct. 1, while a grand opening welcoming city and industry dignitaries is set for Wednesday, Oct. 29.

The grand opening on Oct. 29 will be streamed live at webster.edu/live as well as at the Webster Vienna website.

Cannonball

The cannonball in the atrium is said to date from the Ottoman occupation of the area in 1683.

Palais Wenkheim: Historic Facts
  • Commissioned by Countess Anna von Wenkheim and built in 1826 according to plans provided by Karl Ehmann, the Palais is one of the oldest buildings on Praterstraße, a former noble mile in Vienna’s second district.
  • The Praterstraße is a historic multicultural street that was once home to composer Johann Strauss the Younger when he composed the famous Austrian waltz, “The Blue Danube.”
  • With its impressive façade, Corinthian capitals divided by pilasters, and one grand triangular gable, it bears distinct neoclassicist characteristics.
  • 1862, Josef Bach received approval to house nine stores and shops in the building.
  • In 1880 owner Gustav Schwarz Ritter von Mohrenstein turned a former storage space into a horse stable with coachman rooms.
  • In 1918 — three years after Webster University was founded in Webster Groves — the Palais changed hands again and was bought by Marie Pasetti von Friedensburg and Josef Honzik.
  • Before Webster’s renovations in 2013-14, the most recent major renovations were in 1989, after which it served as headquarters of international auditing firm Ernst & Young, and most recently of the Austrian Financial Market Authority.
  • The cannonball displayed in the atrium is said to be a remnant of the Ottoman Turk occupation of Vienna in 1683.
Entryway Plaque Translations
Palais Wenkheim entrance

Two marble plaques orient visitors to the history of the Palais Wenkheim and surrounding area.

The two marble plaques at the entrance to Palais Wenkheim, pictured above, are translated to English below:

Jägerzeile – Praterstrasse: A rural area since 1570 transformed to a beautiful avenue in the 19th century. In 1814 the winners of the Leipzig war came in a triumphant procession. In 1873 the masses streamed through Praterstrasse for the “world exhibition.” In the “Theater of the Leopoldstadt” Johann Nestroy and Ferdinand Raimund  celebrated huge successes. In 1867 Johann Strauss composed the “Donauwalzer” in his flat on Praterstrasse. Author Arthur Schnitzler was born here. War-ravaged in 1945, Praterstrasse has been revitalized and is now full of life from this new period.

Palais Wenkheim: This classicist building was built on the grounds of the house “Zum Blechernen Turm” by architect Karl Ehmann for Anna Gräfin von Wenkheim. Contemporaries praised ”the outstanding architecture of this palace-style building.” Over time, the royal palais deteriorated and became an apartment building. It was listed as a historic monument in 1963. The SOT Süd-Ost Treuhand purchased it in 1987 and renovated it so that the glory of former times shines anew.

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