The Josephinum was completed in 1785 based on drawings by the Court’s architect Isidor Canevale. Together with parts of the National Library on the Josephsplatz, it is the only representative building dating back to Joseph’s II era; it is considered as the most important example of neo-classical architecture in Vienna and
stands for the Age of Enlightenment in Austria.
One of the central aspirations of Joseph’s II reforms was the improvement and standardisation of public health and of the respective medical education and administration in the entire Empire. In connection with the foundation of the Vienna General Hospital and the construction of the nearby mental hospital "Narrenturm," this entity of important medical and scientific institutions, all created within Joseph’s II short reign of ten years, formed a significant structural development still defining Vienna’s urban landscape today.
In addition, the Josephinum was designed as to incorporate new ideas with regards to “healthy” construction – large windows, bright rooms with high ceilings and an architecture based on specific numerical proportions were supposed to have a beneficial effect on the health of teachers and students.