About City Hall

""City Hall is one of Queensland's most significant heritage and cultural icons. City Hall has social and historical importance for locals, in particular, those whose families helped in the design and construction City Hall.

Since its opening in 1930, City Hall has been a symbol of civic pride and over the years it has become one of Brisbane's greatest icons and community meeting places. The building has played an important role in the lives of our local community in times of war, peace, celebration and refuge and has rightly earned the title of the 'People's Place'.

City Hall is home to Brisbane’s civic, community, artistic and social life and has hosted many famous guests including The Rolling Stones and Queen Elizabeth II.

The Queensland Heritage Register and the National Trust of Queensland list City Hall as a 'culturally, historically and architecturally significant building'. The building also features on Council's own Heritage Register.

City Hall closed its doors in January 2010 for restoration and repair and re-opened to the public on 6 April 2013.

Historical facts

In 1909 architects designed a new town hall but the contract was terminated when Brisbane property owners refused to approve the 180,000 pounds to build it.

The first foundation stone was laid in 1917 by the then Governor, Sir Hamilton Gould-Adams, before a new design had even been drawn.

In 1917, architects Hall and Prentice were employed to submit designs for Council offices and a public hall. Their design, submitted in November 1919, was estimated at 480,000 pounds. The design was accepted and the then Prince of Wales laid a second foundation stone in July 1920.

Building City Hall was a major undertaking in the 1920s. It took 10 years to build at a cost of around 980,000 pounds.

When the City Hall offices opened for business on 3 January 1928 it was:

  • one of the most expensive Australian buildings
  • ranked as the second largest construction of its time, only outdone by the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • the first major Australian concrete 'column and beam' building constructed.

Design and architecture

Designed by architectural firm, Hall and Prentice, City Hall has a great circular hall and corridors surounded by offices and function venues. The main entrance from King George Square is emphasised by imposing Corinthian columns that are nearly 14 metres high. The building has a clock tower rising 92 metres above the ground.  One of the main building features is its grand marble staircase.

The Main Auditorium is City Hall's single largest space. The copper dome over the room is the largest in Australia, spanning 31 metres in diameter. The dome is supported on a brick base that allows the interior of the Main Auditorium to be unobscured by columns.

The architectural style of City Hall has been described as 'inter-war academic classical'. Classical styles, with Ancient Rome and Greece influences, were popular for major public buildings and monuments during the 1920s and 1930s.

Local building materials 

City Hall workers tried to use locally-sourced materials and were proud to handcraft the finer details of the building. The artistry and craftsmanship of the City Hall architecture draws thousands of interstate and overseas guests to the building each year.

The building's exterior is built from ashlar coursed sandstone from the Helidon district near Ipswich. Inside the building, Queensland maple and silky oak timbers were used.

There were three types of marble used in the interior finishing of City Hall. The white marble came from Italy, the black marble from Belgium and the brown marble came from Orange in New South Wales.

Landmark and heritage qualities

For 30 years City Hall was the tallest building in Brisbane. The chiming of the clock bell could be heard as far away as Wynnum and the clock tower could be read through binoculars from Camp Hill.

For more than 60 years it has been the main location of Brisbane City Council employees and an event location for the people of Brisbane.

The building is now listed with the National Trust and included in the National Estate. It is also included in the Queensland Heritage Act of 1992.

17 October 2014