Most surprising to the first-time visitor is the soft, natural light that brightens meeting and exhibit space even on a rainy day. Unlike some examples of contemporary architecture that feel cold and stark, Design Center Linz projects a cheerful warmth. Its innovative glass-roof construction not only allows outside light to enter the interior, but also reflects 80 percent of it--nearly doubling the natural light level.

Just a 45-minute flight or a two-hour drive from Vienna, Linz has redefined itself as a high-tech hub, but one that preserves its history and culture. In addition to the Design Center Linz, the city offers an interactive computer museum called ARS Electronica Center ( Its five exhibit floors include a virtual-reality flying machine and a multimedia representation of Linz.