Highest Tower at the Ringstraße
The Ringturm is an office tower just by the Northern-most point of the Ringstraße Boulevard in Vienna. It is the headquarter of an Austrian insurance company called Wiener Städtische Versicherung and was built between 1953 and 1955. The construction of the Ringturm was a symbolic endeavour for several reasons. Most importantly, it was a signal of optimism after all the destruction the war had caused. Beyond that, it was also an attempt to "beat" the multi-storey house of Hochhaus Herrengasse, which the conservatives had initiated in the 1930ies - the Wiener Städtische and the Ringturm are considered to be "red", meaning the company is associated with the social democrats.
The architect responsible for the design of the Ringturm was Erich Boltenstern. The tower is 93 metres high, which makes it the second-highest building of the first district (obviously after the Stephansdom) and one of the highest in all of Vienna. At the base of the Ringturm, you will find the subway and tram stop of Schottenring. The building that had previously occupied the site of the Ringturm was a Zinshaus typical for the late 19th century - a classic piece of Historicist Ringstraße-ugliness. Sadly, it was the only building on the Schottenring that was destroyed in the course of the Second World War.
Some more facts and figures: The 93 metres are divided into 23 floors, which provide 12,000 square metres of office space to the Wiener Städtische Versicherungen and other companies. On top of the Ringturm, you find an extension of another 20 metre - the so-called Wetterturm or "weather tower" with light signals that indicate a weather forecast.
Weather Forecast from the Ringturm, Vienna
The light signals come in the following variations: Red light rising (temperature rising), red light falling (temperatures falling), green rising (weather improves), green falling (weather deteriorates), red flashing (thunder storm warning) and white flashing (snow and ice). You better memorise that now before it′s too late. The weather report comes directly from the Hohe Warte meteorology unit of Vienna University and refers to the next day.
The fašade of the Ringturm was renovated in 1996. Since then, it has been decorated with colourful stuff on several occasions (if they found some self-proclaimed artist that was not too cheap to do that sort of job) or Christmas lights (my preferred kind of decoration). The name "Ringturm" was found through a public competition: More than 6,500 suggestions were submitted - including creative gems such as "City Haus" (City House), "Neues Hochhaus" (New Multi-storey Building) or "Versicherungs-Hochhaus" (Insurance Multi-storey Building).
In the end, "Ringturm" was the winner and the proud author was rewarded with 2,000 Schillings - which back then was probably a significant amount of money and might have equalled a trip to New York to see some proper skyscrapers. That being said, I don′t dislike the Ringturm and I am even convinced that it was a great improvement from the Gründerzeit thing that it replaced.
Attractions nearby include the Rossauerkaserne, the Stock Exchange, the Votivkirche and the Freud Museum in Berggasse. My flat is in walking distance and so are the Servitenkirche, the Main University and the various attractions of the Ringstraße. And if you don′t fancy walking, just jump on a tram.
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