Skip links and keyboard navigation

Brisbane City Hall

The heritage register will be undergoing routine maintenance on Saturday 17 November 2018. The service will not be available during this period. We apologise for any inconvenience.

  • 600065
  • 64 Adelaide Street, Brisbane City

General

Classification
State Heritage
Register status
Entered
Date entered
21 October 1992
Type
Government administration: Hall—town / city / shire / divisional board
Theme
7.4 Maintaining order: Local government
Architect
Hall & Prentice
Builder
Carrick, DD
Construction period
1920–1930, Brisbane City Hall (1920 - 1930)
Historical period
1919–1930s Interwar period
Style
Classicism

Related documents

Location

Address
64 Adelaide Street, Brisbane City
LGA
Brisbane City Council
Coordinates
-27.46896717, 153.02350213

Map

Street view

Photography is provided by Google Street View and may include third-party images. Images show the vicinity of the heritage place which may not be visible.

Request a boundary map

A printable boundary map report can be emailed to you.

Significance

Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

Brisbane City Hall is historically significant as the Brisbane City Council chambers and offices since 1930 and the symbolic focus of the municipality, it provides a sense of place for the Brisbane community.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

Brisbane City Hall is a fine example of a Classical Revival civic building with a modern steel and concrete structure.

Brisbane City Hall is a well known example of the work of Hall and Prentice.

Brisbane City Hall is constructed almost entirely of local building materials, the City Hall is a tribute to local architects, contractors, tradesmen and artists.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

Brisbane City Hall with its clock tower and King George Square as its forecourt create a landmark in Brisbane.

Criterion FThe place is important in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement at a particular period.

The building contains notable technical achievements ranging from the span of copper dome roof over the auditorium, the height of the clock tower and the unique foundations that were designed to alleviate the problems of a water hole on the site.

Criterion GThe place has a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons.

Brisbane City Hall with its clock tower and King George Square as its forecourt create a landmark in Brisbane.

Criterion HThe place has a special association with the life or work of a particular person, group or organisation of importance in Queensland’s history.

Brisbane City Hall is a well known example of the work of Hall and Prentice.

History

Brisbane's first Town Hall was opened in 1864 in Queen Street, however, by 1882 it was considered inadequate. The construction of new municipal chambers, however, was retarded by controversy over the location of the new hall - Adelaide Street or Petrie Bight. Town Planners and many citizens favoured the latter site, now Centenary Place, as development of the Central Business District was expanding northwards. The present site was chosen, despite its swampy conditions, as it was largely council land and required minimal resumptions. In 1909 architects Corrie, Atkinson and McLay designed the new town hall, but their contract was terminated when Brisbane property owners refused to sanction the £180 000 loan required for construction.

To generate public enthusiasm for the project a foundation stone was laid by Governor Gould Adams on 3 February 1917, although a new design had not been drawn. On 22 July 1917 Council voted to employ architects TR Hall and GG Prentice to design municipal offices and a public hall which would be a credit to the city for generations. By November 1919 Hall and Prentice had submitted their design estimated at £480 000. The plans featured a clock tower, 300 feet high, topped with a sculpture of the "Angel of Peace". The Ann and Albert Street facades were crowned by a group of life size statues depicting a chariot drawn by prancing horses and the building corners were capped by two copper domes.

A second foundation stone was laid on 29 July 1920 by the Prince of Wales. A time capsule was placed beneath the stone which contained coins, newspaper clippings and council records. Arthur Midson and Sons' tender of £119 870 for the foundation was accepted. Wet conditions made work difficult and despite continuous pumping of the site, one workman drowned during an inspection. Excavations to a depth of 54 feet were required before bedrock was reached.

The contract for the construction of the superstructure was given to DD Carrick who submitted the lowest tender of £506 375. In 1923 the plans were modified to cut costs, eliminating the chariot statues. DD Carrick signed the new contract on 10 March 1924 and work commenced almost immediately. By late 1927 Council staff began to occupy the building and on 24 January 1928 the first meeting was held in the chambers. On 8 April 1930 Governor Sir John Goodwin opened the Brisbane City Hall. It was proclaimed a "symbol of civic pride", "an inspiration for citizenship" and an "edifice which for grandeur, dignity and architectural effect was without its peer in the Commonwealth". The sculpture on the tympanum which depicted the settlement of Queensland, was crafted by local artist Daphne Mayo. Its unveiling on 17 December 1930, completed the construction of City Hall.

The construction of King George Square was first proposed in the 1930s and the area was marked for "civic purposes" on the 1959 Town Plan. In 1962 negotiations began for the acquisition of properties for demolition and the following year initial plans were drawn. Albert Street was closed in 1966 and plans were finalised in 1968. King George Square was officially opened on 18 March 1975, as the forecourt to the City Hall. The transfer of council departments to the Brisbane Administration Centre after 1976, allowed the renovation of City Hall and its partial conversion to a community centre. On 9 March 1977 the Art Gallery/Museum on the ground floor was opened by Queen Elizabeth II. Since then the administration offices have been converted to function rooms, as originally intended; Council Chambers redecorated; and the central library, clubrooms and kindercraft day nursery have been added.

Description

The Brisbane City Hall, located at the corners of Ann, Adelaide, and Albert Streets, is a large building in the Classical Revival style. Constructed between 1920 and 1930 its tower was the tallest structure in the inner city until the 1960s. The building is axially arranged around a central circular concert hall with its main architectural features located centrally on each of the three facades. The spaces formed between the rectilinear outer plan form and the inner circular one are used as lightwells to courtyards. The clock tower centred above the entrance portico is the predominant feature of the building and stands around 90m above street level. It houses a set of Westminster chimes, sheet copper clocks of 5m diameter and an observation tower. On top of the tower's copper pyramidal roof is an open metal sphere that housed a red neon light, which in the past served as an air navigation beacon. The buildings other main architectural feature is its copper dome roof over the auditorium which is supported on a brick base and is 31 metres in diameter remaining unobstructed by columns.

The symmetrical front facade has a central pediment supported by well proportioned giant order Corinthian columns, and this now forms the entry porch. The tympanum features a sculpture by Daphne Mayo depicting early settlement. The removal of the granite entry stairs and the partial concealment of the base, owing to the construction of the King George Square carpark, diminished the overall scale of the front of the building and removed its previous spatial relationship with Albert Street.

To either side of the front entry porch the building has a colonnade of columns with Ionic capitals. On the side facades pilasters have been used instead. The centrally located entries on these facades still manage to exhibit a scale approaching that of the front. The base of the building, now partly obscured by the King George Square carpark, features semicircular headed windows with wrought iron grilles.

The foliage surrounding the building is distinctive and adds to the overall quality of environment nearby. Of particular note are the Cuban Royal Palms in front of the King George Square facade. These have become almost synonymous with the building over time and incorporated into the City Council logo. The Adelaide Street facade is covered in a large part by a climbing plant (Monstera deliciosa).

Internally the building has many fine spaces. These include the Main Auditorium which seats over 1500 people, has a gallery level, and contains a large organ that pre-dates the building. The main casework for this was designed by architects Hall and Prentice and is constructed from Queensland maple. The panels over the choir stalls were sculptured by Daphne Mayo. The King George Square entry foyer has a high vaulted ceiling with ornamental plaster work. Other details include a mosaic tiled floor and a panelled dado of coloured marble around the walls. The main staircase is constructed of Australian, Italian and Belgian marble, with newel post hewn from solid blocks of Sicilian marble. The woodwork in the entry is crafted from Queensland timbers. The entry vestibules off Ann and Adelaide Street have leadlight panels located centrally on the first floor level designed by William Bustard. Two of these occur in the Adelaide Street vestibule and a duplicate of one of these is in the Ann Street vestibule. The Council Chambers feature an Oxy-copper steel plate ceiling supported on pillars of Australian marble, and furniture carved from rich Queensland timbers.

City Hall is built predominantly of local materials: Helidon freestone for the walls of the upper three storeys; Enoggera granite for the ground floor and basement; local timber for the internal joinery; and local Darra cement.

The Classical entry portico along with the dominant Clock tower and the large central auditorium with its copper dome all contribute to making this a fine municipal building.

Image gallery

Location

Location of Brisbane City Hall within Queensland
Licence
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
  1. Is your feedback about:
  2. (If you chose ‘website’ above)

    Page feedback

    1. How satisfied are you with your experience today? *
  3. (If you chose ‘service’ above)

    Feedback on government services, departments and staff

    Please use our complaints and compliments form.