Renovations have breathed new life into a number of historic bank buildings in Vienna in recent years. The latest project can be found at Am Hof 2, a prestigious location in the city center. The luxury Park Hyatt Vienna hotel opened here in June 2014, with 143 rooms and suites in a historic building that has been restored to exemplary standards. It was originally constructed for the Niederösterreichische Eskompte-Gesellschaft, a major bank of the dual monarchy. Later, the heritage-protected building housed the headquarters of the Österreichische Länderbank, and then Bank Austria, which sold it in 2008. The restaurant of the new Park Hyatt, fittingly called The Bank, occupies the stunning former cashiers’ hall. Just a few steps away at Herrengasse 12, a listed Jugendstil or Austrian Art Nouveau building designed by Franz Krásny (a student of Otto Wagner) is home to the Radisson Blu Style Hotel. From 1919 the local branch of a Prague bank was based here, before an Austrian bank moved in. In 2005 the expansive cashiers’ hall was converted into the hotel lobby, and the old doors to the vault can still be seen in the gym.
Another former bank building, on Freyung, serves a different purpose: the former headquarters of the Österreichische Creditanstalt für Handel und Gewerbe was converted into an art exhibition space in 1989. The Bank Austria Kunstforum – named after its main sponsor – focuses on modern art and its forerunners. New works from around the world are presented in the former vault on the basement floor. Celebrated Viennese architect Otto Wagner designed the building at Hohenstaufengasse 3 for the Österreichische Länderbank in 1881. It was the first modern bank building in Vienna, and at the time the design was revolutionary. Today, it houses the Federal Chancellery.
Some banks in Vienna are still used as banks, and the most beautiful example is the Austrian Post Savings Bank. The headquarters of this bank, founded in 1883, was built a stone’s throw from the Ringstrasse between 1904 and 1906 according to plans drawn up by Otto Wagner. Alongside Wagner’s Church of St. Leopold it is counted as a key work of European modernist architecture and fin de siècle Vienna. Its facade is composed of weather resistant granite and marble slabs, and aluminum, a new material at the time, was used inside and out. The railings and decorative figures on the roof are made from the rust-free metal, as are the door mountings and heating vents in the cashiers’ hall. Interior design for the bank – including furniture – was also masterminded by Wagner. The archive of the impressive Jugendstil building contains the original plans as well as the first savings book issued by the royal and imperial post savings bank – for Emperor Franz Joseph I. In the small banking hall, the Museum Wagner:Werk presents the story of the conceptual development and construction of this unique work of architecture. Meanwhile, the large banking hall is open to the public during the bank’s opening hours.
- Park Hyatt Vienna, Am Hof 2, 1010 Vienna, www.vienna.park.hyatt.com
- Radisson Blu Style Hotel, Herrengasse 12, 1010 Vienna, www.radissonblu.de/stylehotel-vienna
- Bank Austria Kunstforum Wien, Freyung 8, 1010 Vienna, www.bankaustria-kunstforum.at
- Federal Chancellery, Hohenstaufengasse 3, 1010 Vienna, www.bka.gv.at
- Austrian Post Savings Bank and Wagner:Werk - Museum Postsparkasse, Georg-Coch-Platz 2, 1010 Vienna, www.ottowagner.com