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Brisbane City Hall, Brisbane, Qld

The Brisbane City Hall is the seat of the City Council of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. It is located adjacent to King George Square, where the rectangular City Hall has its main entrance. The City Hall also has frontages to both Ann Street and Adelaide Street. The building is considered one of Brisbane's finest and is without doubt that city's most recognised building.

The City Hall was once the tallest building in Brisbane. The building was designed by the firm Hall & Prentice, in association with four young New South Wales Architects: Bruce Dellit, Peter Kaad, Emil Sodersten and Noel Wilson. The foundation stone was laid in July 1920 by Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII / Duke of Windsor), with a opal encrusted 18ct gold and trowel, designed by Peter Kaad. Brisbane City Hall was opened in 1930. An earlier foundation stone had been laid in 1917 by Queensland Governor (Major Sir Hamilton J. Goold-Adams) in advance of the building's construction, however it was later found to be out of alignment, and it was removed. This stone, stored in a Brisbane City Council depot, later disappeared from record.
Brisbane City Hall has an imposing 70 m clock tower (rising 91 m above ground level), based on the design of the St Mark's Campanile in Venice, Italy. Above the main entrance is a bronze awning and the doors are made of bronze. Extending from both sides of the entrance are ionic colonnades. Lions heads are found above these columns.
The four clock faces on each side of the tower are the largest in Australia. The Clock has Westminster Chimes, which sound on the quarter hour, and can be heard from the Queen St Mall and, at times, in the surrounding suburbs. Above the clocks is an observation platform, open to the public and accessible by lift between 10am and 3pm seven days a week, free. For many years this afforded spectacular views of Brisbane, but since the relaxation of height limits for surrounding buildings in the late 1960s, the view is now somewhat restricted.
The centre of City Hall features a stunning auditorium, based on the Pantheon, Rome, and several smaller reception rooms. The auditorium is a large circular hall that can seat up to 2 500 people and is covered by a large copper dome. When originally built it was intended that the building would house most of the Council's administrative offices, Aldermen's (councillors') offices, the Council Chamber, a public library and several reception rooms, in addition to the auditorium. As the role of local government increased in the 1950s and 1960s, the reception rooms, hallways and side entrance vestibules (in Adelaide and Ann Streets) were converted to office space. Additional offices were constructed on the roof and in the basement.

History: The building was officially opened on 8 April 1930. In 1969 the council commenced the acquisition of the properties to the south of the City Hall, and in 1975 opened the Brisbane Administration Centre, a 20 floor tower and surrounding plaza. Most of the Council's offices then moved from the City hall to the BAC. Until the opening of the new Brisbane Square in December 2006, the City Hall continued to house the office of the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, which was previously located on the first level of the King George Square side of the building. The Council Chambers (located on the Adelaide Street side of the building), and councillors' offices, remain however in City Hall.
In the 1980s work commenced on the full-scale restoration of the building, opening up the side entrance vestibules and restoring a number of the reception rooms to their original design. These reception rooms are named for former local government areas subsumed into Greater Brisbane in 1925, such as the Sherwood Room, or the Ithaca Room. From 2003 the Museum of Brisbane (which has galleries positioned on both sides of the building's entrance from King George Square) has replaced administration offices.
The building is constructed of concrete, brick and steel, with a base of Camp Mountain Granite. The granite was extracted by the first builder, Arthur Midson, from his quarry at Camp Mountain near Samford. This deposit was worked just for the City Hall project. Above Midson's granite base courses, the east, north and west sides are clad in Helidon Freestone, a type of sandstone extracted from Wright's Quarry at Helidon. The sandstone cladding was constructed (together with the rest of the building) by builder Douglas Dunn Carrick. The clock tower has a steel framework, and is clad in the same sandstone. The interior includes two marble columns that support an arch above a ground marble staircase.
The sculptured pediment above the portico and entrance, known as the tympanum, was carved by noted Brisbane sculptor Daphne Mayo in the early 1930s. There is some controversy surrounding the theme of the tympanum, which depicts the progress of civilisation in the State of Queensland.[citation needed] The gown-clad female figure in the centre depicts "progress" or "enlightenment", while settlers with their cattle and explorers with their horses, move out from under her protecting arms to claim the land from the indigenous people and native animals, who are represented by two aboriginal males crouching in the left hand corner, and a fleeing kangaroo. To the right corner one can see a young European male and female, adjoined by a sheep and a row of books and an artist's palette representing the new European nation, agriculture and civilisation.
The bronze lion sculptures and statue of King George V, in front of the King George Square façade of Brisbane City Hall, were initially part of the King George V memorial, which was unveiled in 1938 as a tribute to the King from the citizens of Brisbane. Since 2007, the lions, modelled on the bronze lions of Trafalgar Square, London, and the statue, have been removed for renovations to the Square. It is not known if they will be re-incorporated into the new redeveloped King George Square in 2009.
An accompanying bronze work to complement the King George V pediment sculpture, based on the life of the pioneering Brisbane family, the Petrie's (famously of Brisbane's First Mayor John Petrie), known as the Petrie Tableau, also has been removed due to renovations at the square.
Forme del Mito, a collection of large bronze thematic sculptured works by renowned Italian artist Arnaldo Pomodoro, one of the more prominent works of art collected for and displayed at Brisbane's World Expo '88, previously took pride of place in King George Square. Also since 2007 they have been removed for renovations to the Square. The future location of the works is unknown.

Organ: The 4,600 pipes organ was built in 1892 by Henry Willis & Sons Organ Builders in Liverpool, UK, for the Brisbane Exhibition Building at Bowen Park. It remained in the Exhibition Concert Hall until it was moved to the Brisbane City Hall in 1927. The City Hall’s first organ recital was held in 1929. The organ concert held on 14 November 2009 celebrated 80th anniversary of the organ installation in the Brisbane City Hall but was also the last organ recital before the commencement of the restoration of the City Hall. When City Hall closes in December 2009, the organ will be totally dismantled and removed from the building for storage. It is planned that the organs will return to the hall three years later.

King George Square: The City Hall faces King George Square, named in honour of King George V. Originally this area, between Ann and Adelaide Streets, was much narrower than at present and was called Albert Square. In the late 1960s premises on the square opposite the City Hall were acquired by the City Council, demolished and the area levelled to form a larger square. The creation of the enlarged square was criticised in some quarters as it resulted in the removal of the original imposing flight of stone stairs in front of the building, when the ground level in front of the City Hall was raised to the level of the main entrance. When Albert Square was redeveloped into King George Square, the existing fountain at Albert Square was relocated to Wynnum. King George Square is a popular place for public gatherings, rallies and protest marches. As part of the Inner-Northern Busway project, King George Square has been remodelled.

Structural problems: Brisbane City Hall was built on swampy ground; This has caused the iconic building to suffer from the problems of rising damp. Serious problems have been identified with the building, including: subsidence, concrete caner, a lack of reinforcing in the concrete and old wiring. The Brisbane City Council has set up a taskforce to address these issues, raise awareness, co-ordinate restoration and fundraise.

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