Several brick buildings in a rectangle layout make up the complex which is located on a bank south of the Landstraßer Gürtel. It is the most distinguished building group of the romantic historism in Vienna and has been constructed in Italian-medieval respectively Byzantine-islamic style. Essentially the complex is still preserved in its original form, merely a few workshap buildings within the courtyard were replaced.
The complex was build on the occasion of the march revolution 1848 between 1848 and 1856 and was the first of three buildings which replaced the old city fortification. The area was split into sectors to cover with buildings by the architects Carl Rösner, Antonius Pius de Riegel, August Sicard von Sicardsburg, Eduard van der Nüll, Theophil von Hansen and Ludwig Förster. Master builder was Leopold Mayr. The Heeresgeschichtliche Museum took until 1891 to finish. In the aftermath there were multiple expansions. During first world war the complex served as barracks and armory.
The Arsenal was not always part of the third district, from its construction unteil 1938 it belonged to Favoriten. While Vienna was rearranged to form the new Reichsgau in Nazi Germany, inner city borders were reassigned and the Arsenal as well as the area south of it became part of Landstraße.
1945 the Arsenal was heavily damaged by bombing, however after the war most it was rebuilt into its original form. In the following years, several new constructions primarily in the south were undertaken, such as the workshops for the state theaters (1959 until 1963) and the rehearsal stage for the Burgtheater in the 1990s. From 1961 until 1963 the Fernmeldezentralamt and 1973 buildings for the Post- und Telegraphendirektion für Wien, Niederösterreich und das Burgenland (mail and telegraph authority for Vienna, Lower Austria and Burgenland), today the Technologiezentrum Arsenal (technology centre Arsenal) of the Telekom Austria) with the 150 metre high Funkturm Arsenal.
The Österreichische Forschungs- und Prüfzentrum Arsenal (Austrian research and test-centre Arsenal), today Arsenal Research, was located in the complex. A small part of the complex is still being used by the Austrian army as a casern. Furthermore the Zentraldesinfektionsanstalt (central disinfection authority) of Vienna is located there.
Part of the Arsenal now contains housing.