Dr. Wilhelm Mrazek, editor of the Viennese art magazine "alte und moderne kunst", and at that time also Dean of the Academy of Applied Arts on the Ringstraße, had invited me on the occasion of the 100th issue of the magazine to contribute an article on the Gartenbau (Horticulture Society) building, designed by architect August Weber, who excelled in exhibition buildings in Vienna, St. Petersburg and Moscow.
Instead of designing several web pages on this subject, I simply chose to scan the magazine pages and make them available as a series of gif images (approx. 140k to 195k each).
Please use the page number links above each image to navigate between the pages
WARNING: The pages dealing with this subject are all in German. Therefore, in the right-hand column, please find an abridged "encyclopedic" summary in English.
Page 1: DIE GRÜNDUNGSJAHRE
Page 2: DIE ERSTEN AUSSTELLUNGSLOKALE
Page 3: BAUPLATZ AN DER RINGSTRASSE
Page 4: FINANZIERUNG
Page 5: PLANUNG
Page 6: BAUBESCHREIBUNG
Page 7: VARIABLE NUTZFÄHIGKEIT
Page 8: VERFALL
THE FOUNDERS: Prince Clemens Metternich and Karl Freiherr von Hügel. Quite an unusual pair. Metternich, 59, just widowed, snatched the 19 year old bride of his friend Hügel in 1830 (Countess Melanie Zichy-Ferraris). Loaded with guilt, Metternich pushed forward one of Hügel's major endeavours, the long attempted constitution and approval of the Horticultural Society by the Emperor, but Hügel left in disgust for a six-year long botanical expedition to India and the Far East. Only upon his return, did he take the Horticultural Society under his leadership and, in 1860, achieved the Imperial grant of a building site for the Society's club house along the newly created Ringstraße. During the revolution of 1948, he had smuggled Metternich and his young wife Melanie out of Vienna in his own coach . . .
THE ARCHITECT: August Weber, was the favourite student of Sicardsburg and Van der Nüll, the architects of the Vienna Opera House, and professors at the Academy. He was also the son-in-law of Johann Romano who, in partnership with August Schwendenwein, was the busiest architect along the Ring.
THE BUILDING: Remarkable because of its multi-functional modularity, forecasting the idea of today's exhibition centres, relying on mobile structural elements and wall partitions, thus creating the possibility of not only one but of several uses, and enhancing the chances of economic survival of an otherwise non-profitable activity.