Brisbane City Hall was designed by the architects of firm Hall and Prentice in 1919, and opened in 1930, after a decade of construction. It was a proud time for Brisbane’s citizens, when this elegant sandstone building, inspired by the architects’ passion for New York’s art deco stock combined with “interwar academic classical” references, suddenly rose well above all surrounding structures.
It remained the city’s tallest landmark until the 1960s.
The Brisbane City Hall was rededicated after a comprehensive restoration program to conserve its significant spaces and fabric, to rectify its structural, fire and life safety deficits and to re-equip it for its role as the focus for Brisbane’s civic, cultural, and social events.
Commencing in 2009, the project comprised the restoration, adaptation and fire services upgrade to the 1930s building. Foundations and interior walls have since been restored, the grand ballroom re-fashioned, and new interiors that match the heritage features introduced.
A new roof has also been added for the Museum of Brisbane, while the upgrades now accommodate for major performance spaces, conference facilities and offices of the Council and Lord Mayor.
The revitalisation of the most significant heritage building in Queensland involved conservation and adaptation works; refurbishment of existing and new interior spaces; new building services; and the design of new components including new galleries for the Museum of Brisbane at roof level and new catering kitchen within an excavated basement.
The success of this project owes much to the design team’s understanding of the original design intent and program of the 1930s City Hall together with the potential of new technologies and materials. The introduced layers were removed to reveal the inherent qualities of the building including its natural lighting and ventilation. Contemporary technologies and materials were introduced to rectify and improve functional amenity. A simpler interior colour scheme was overlaid using a restricted palette of cool colours to enhance the original fabric of the building including marble, mosaic tile-work, silky oak joinery, bronzed coffered ceilings, decorative glazing and plasterwork.
The result showcases the building’s original architectural qualities and its new contemporary amenity thanks to the design team’s creative vision and perseverance
Tonkin Zulaikha Greer in association with HBO+EMTB were engaged for the concept design and development application phases of the $150m refurbishment of the historic Brisbane City Hall. The original 1930’s building is the largest town hall in Australia, and its lavish neo-Classical interiors have been the backdrop to many of the city’s most important civic events.
The project aimed to give the centrepiece of the city an active relevant new life after 80 years. The building houses major performance, event and meeting facilities, the offices of the Council and Lord Mayor and the new and enlarged Museum of Brisbane. The scheme includes an extensive new kitchen excavated into the basement to serve state-of-the-art conference and event facilities including the 1500-seat Grand Auditorium with its conserved organ.
As part of the refurbishment, TZG designed the upgrade of the auditorium’s domed ceiling; a complex arrangement of tensile fabric, brass mesh screens, acoustic panelling and a sophisticated LED lighting system.
The project was completed in 2014.