DC tower by dominique perrault rises above vienna as austria’s tallest building

photo © DC towers / michael nagl




rising 250 meters into the viennese sky, ‘DC tower 1’ has opened its doors to the public, forming a bold and distinctive landmark for the austrian capital. designed by renowned french architect dominique perrault, the structure features an elegant cascading façade that reflects the neighbouring danube river both literally and metaphorically. part of the larger ‘donau city’ development, the edifice is to be joined by the 44-storey ‘DC tower 2’, also to be completed by dominique perrault architecture. the skyscraper stands as austria’s tallest building; a soaring mixed-use complex that establishes a vertical city perpendicular to the historic center.


designboom attended the official opening of the tower alongside former mayor of new york rudy giuliani, astronaut buzz aldrin and architect dominique perrault. 

part of the larger ‘donau city’ development, the skyscraper is to be joined by a second 44-storey tower
image © designboom




across its 60 storeys, the building houses the offices of numerous international businesses, a 253-room hotel, premier dining facilities and a fitness suite. at the uppermost level of the complex, the ’57 restaurant & lounge’ offers 360-degree panoramic views across the city below.


captivated by the plot’s potential, designs for the tower were originally floated by perrault in 2002 after an international competition was held for the project. the brief called for a diverse mixed-use program designed to facilitate a vibrant and active occupation of the site.

dominque perrault DC tower 1 designboom
the elegant cascading façade reflects the neighbouring danube river
photos © DC towers / michael nagl




despite its majestic height, the tower grows organically out of the ground with roots that connect the verticality of the design with its horizontal base. on the river bank façade, the public space rises through a sequence of staggered steps ensuring a universally accessible spatial interface. on the other three elevations, metallic umbrellas hover at the foot of the building, tempering the sharp junction between the tower and its plinth.

dominque perrault DC tower 1 designboom
the 250 meter structure stands as austria’s tallest building
photo © DC towers / michael nagl




working with associate designer gaëlle lauriot-prévost, internal spaces are both substantial and physical. alongside the stone and metal used in the tower’s lobbies and circulation routes, the exposed structure continues a sense of transparency and openness which pervades the building.


‘DC tower 1’ is envisioned as a landmark structure, a multi-purpose design which demonstrates the role that high-rise architecture can play in producing liveable, vibrant and dynamic cityscapes.

looking upwards at the undulating south eastern façade
image © designboom




perrault spoke with designboom about the challenge of connecting the horizontal city with the vertical city at a large scale.


‘for me it’s a very strong point, because I think it is not acceptable to get this very brutal relationship between the vertical facade and the flat surface of the artificial terrace. with this topography we have some solutions: the topography is artificial close to the tower, but more natural along the river. my idea is not fantastic topography, it is very primitive and very direct, with some platforms and some other kind of levels, but step by step with different components we can arrive at the bottom of the tower. the tower is like a tree with roots. okay, the tree is very nice, with lifts, but it is very interesting if you can feel the roots.’


‘this kind of scale is my scale. I have developed some huge projects, in france, germany, spain and asia. the first approach is about the urban design, I won the competition with urban design strategy, and after I developed this the building appeared. the first step is landscape, the second is urban strategy with context, and the third stage is a building. with these kind of steps, everything is possible, the scale is not the question.’

public space adjacent to the mixed-use development 
image © designboom




also attending the building’s inauguration was rudy giuliani. designboom asked the former mayor of new york, who is also a keen amateur photographer, about how tall buildings like ‘DC tower 1’ can contribute towards a vibrant and liveable city.


I think they define the urban fabric. a great city has enormous numbers of people who come into it, you need grand, big buildings to accommodate a population like that. you need it because it produces an enormous number of jobs, just think of the number of people that were employed building this building, and then just think of the number of people employed at maintaining this building – at all levels of the economy. those are things big cities need, the more of them you have, probably the more vibrant your economy is.’


‘they are also beautiful to watch, when you fly into a city aren’t you always impressed by the beautiful buildings you see? or when you’re driving to a city and you’re far away and you begin to see the skyline, the more impressive it is, the better you feel about it. I believe these buildings define cities to the outside world. to get to know a city you have to live in it, you have to be part of it. before you get to know a city, what it looks like, to a very large extent, defines it. these buildings are enormously important in defining a great world city.’

dominque perrault DC tower 1 designboom
a public space is formed at the foot of the building
photo © DC towers / michael nagl

metallic umbrellas temper the sharp junction between the tower and its plinth
image © designboom

dominque perrault DC tower 1 designboom
the ’57 restaurant & lounge’ offers panoramic views across the city
photo © DC towers / michael nagl

the hotel driveway and entrance 
image © designboom

DC tower by dominique perrault designboom
dominique perrault addresses the gathered media in front of ‘DC tower 1’
image © designboom


project info:


height: 250 meters
floors: 60
total floor space above ground: ca. 93,600 square meters
total floor space below ground: ca. 44,000 square meters
rentable space: ca. 66,000 square meters
tower length: 59 metres
tower width: 28 metres (on average)
steel: 20,000 tons
concrete: 110,000 cubic meters
total weight: 290,000 tons
start of construction: summer, 2010
completed: autumn, 2013
architect: dominique perrault
developer: WED AG-gruppe
investor: UniCredit bank austria AG
total investment: 300 million euros
official opening: february 26, 2014