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July 13, 2022

A Bridge for Science

Ceremonial opening of the modern Michael Gröller Bridge at ISTA in Klosterneuburg

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The guests of honor were delighted with the modern design of the Michael Gröller Bridge, which connects ISTA with IST Park. © ISTA

Bridges have a special significance at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) in Klosterneuburg, Austria, where scientists of different research disciplines work together. On the institute’s campus there are many bridges connecting our research buildings to make exchange between different research groups easier. A new bridge has been added to connect the campus with its Tech-Park. It was opened today by Lower Austrian Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner, Science Minister Martin Polaschek and other guests of honor. It is named after Michael Gröller, one of ISTA’s most reliable supporters.

Like two flexible gray ribbons, the new, modern bridge swings across Kierlinger Hauptstraße, the main street in Gugging near Klosterneuburg in Eastern Austria, from the administration building of the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) to the Tech-Park on the other side of the street. Forty-five meters wide and weighing 110 tons, it is freely accessible as of today, July 11. The pedestrian bridge was officially opened by Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner, Science Minister Martin Polaschek, the Mayor of Klosterneuburg Stefan Schmuckenschlager, architekt Ramón Vilalta and other guests of honor.

Milestone for the institute

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Grand opening. The Michael Gröller Bridge was opened up by (from left) architects Ramón Vilalta and Carme Pigem, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of ISTA Claus Raidl, Minister of Science Martin Polaschek, Governor Johanna Mikl-Leitner, ISTA-President Thomas A. Henzinger, Mayor Stefan Schmuckenschlager and Managing Director of ISTA Georg Schneider. © ISTA

“ISTA shapes the area of Klosterneuburg and, of course, the entire science community of Lower Austria. The world-class research institute has enormous international appeal, attracting the best researchers in the world. This positive development over the past decade has been unprecedented and accompanied by many successes. I am delighted that today we can add another chapter to ISTA’s history books,” said Governor Mikl-Leitner as she cut the ribbon to the bridge. She was referring to the steady growth of the ISTA campus. Most recently in September 2021, the Sunstone Building was opened with its modern library, the Graduate School and numerous offices and laboratories. Construction is currently underway on the Moonstone Building, which will house additional research groups starting in 2023.

Austrian Minister of Education, Science and Research Martin Polaschek stated: “The new Michael Gröller Bridge is more than just a pedestrian bridge. It connects the Technology Park with the ISTA campus. The bridge makes what the Institute of Science and Technology (ISTA) has already been doing for 15 years physically come to reality: it has always been a bridge builder between science and business, research and innovation, ideas and the future. This bridge is a symbol of the excellent interplay between research and application. I am deeply impressed by the success of this young institute, which has grown in a very short time into an internationally, highly respected center for science, research and innovation. Here, too, ISTA is building bridges – with an interdisciplinary PhD program that crosses the boundaries between disciplines.”

State-of-the-art design

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Two paths. The bridge consists of two separate walkways. One leads to the ISTA administration building, the other to the sidewalk in front of it. © ISTA

In order to disrupt traffic as little as possible, the components of the Michael Gröller Bridge were always installed at night. In doing so, the companies involved ensured that the Kierlinger Hauptstraße was passable as usual for buses, trucks and cars during the day. Visually, the new bridge gives the surrounding area a futuristic flair without being obtrusive. Architect Ramón Vilalta discusses his vision: “A footbridge at the entrance of the new campus of the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) links two paths, two dimensions, two situations, many flows: pedestrians, bicycles, adapted circuits and so on. It folds out into two. It creates a determined movement, like a frayed ribbon. Two steel U-sections connect, separate and take different paths, movements and dimensions. It embodies simplicity and richness of a terse gesture, appropriate for the location. As humans we are not isolated beings but strive for relationships with one another. We relate both to the physical world and to people: family, friends, colleagues … So, relating is the most important action. And this is the action that this slender footbridge performs.”

ISTA President Thomas A. Henzinger was also enthusiastic about the architecture: “The bridge that connects our institute with the IST Park is an eye-catcher visible from far away, elegantly winding its way across Kierlinger Hauptstraße. The structure not only ensures the safety of pedestrians, but also symbolically represents the Institute’s connection to the IST Park on the other side of the street. Both – the research campus on the north side of Kierlinger Hauptstraße and the industrial park on the south side of the street – will continue to grow and move closer together because of the new bridge.”

New landmark for Gugging

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Like a ballerina. The pedestrian walkway curves over the wide street and is modeled on the movements of a dancing ballerina. © ISTA

The bridge not only brings the campus and the Tech-Park closer together, but also enables residents to cross the Kierlinger Hauptstraße safely and conveniently. Managing Director of ISTA, Georg Schneider, found words of gratitude for this: “On behalf of our institute, I would like to express my special thanks to Governor Mikl-Leitner and the Province of Lower Austria. The new pedestrian bridge not only benefits our institute, but also the general public. The architectural office responsible for the design, RCR Arquitectes, was awarded the Pritzker Prize. In the architecture industry, this prize is considered one of the world’s most prestigious awards and the bridge can surely be called an architectural landmark.”

The bridge over the B14 is named after the Austrian entrepreneur Michael Gröller. Gröller has been one of the most reliable supporters of research on the Klosterneuburg campus since the foundation of ISTA. In recognition and appreciation of his support, the bridge bears his name. Most recently, the “Michael Gröller Foundation” donated one million euros to ISTA.

Michael Gröller was General Manager and Chairman of the Board for many years, then he became Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Mayr-Melnhof Karton AG, a leading company in the Austrian paper industry. Furthermore, he served on the supervisory boards of numerous Austrian companies. In addition to these functions, he was president of the umbrella organizations of the domestic and European paper industry and served on the board of the Federation of Austrian Industries for many years. Gröller has been active as an entrepreneur and investor since joining the Supervisory Board of Mayr-Melnhof Karton AG in 2002. In addition to his entrepreneurial activities, Gröller is active as a private benefactor, for example on the board of the Vinzenzgemeinschaft St. Stephan association, the sponsoring association of the VinziRast facilities which serve the homeless.

ISTA President Thomas A. Henzinger: “The naming of the bridge after Michael Gröller is so symbolic because it stands for the relationship between basic research and commercial application. Our wealth and prosperity is based on this connection. Furthermore, the donation from the ‘Michael Gröller Foundation’ proves that we are well on our way to establishing philanthropic donations in Austria as a means of funding research.”


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