Phillips Smith Conwell



Presenting at this year’s Urban History Planning History Conference SYDNEY 2024

c.1919 T.R. Hall and G.G. Prentice Brisbane City Hall Drawings Gift of Hall, Phillips & Wilson, Architects 1976. City of Brisbane Collection, Museum of Brisbane
Ascot Chambers, cnr Edward and Queen Streets, Brisbane City (1924-1926, demolished 1995) undated photograph
The Shell Company of Australia, new office building Ann Street, Brisbane City (1930–33) (PSC private archive)
McWhirter’s Building, Fortitude Valley (1930–31) (PSC private archive)

Dr Lisa Marie Daunt from Phillips Smith Conwell is presenting at this year’s Urban History Planning History Conference SYDNEY 2024, title: Real Estate Agency: Land, Housing and Finance in Urban and Planning History. See: Being held 11-13 July in Sydney.
Lisa’s presentation focuses on the early decades of our practice’s history, when we were ‘the most celebrated practice in Brisbane’.

Presentation abstract:

Hall and Prentice: the most celebrated practice in Brisbane in the 1920s

The city of Brisbane – the capital of Queensland and the third most populous city in Australia – shifted in scale, gaining numerous ‘city making’ buildings during the interwar years. Then a youthful city (not much more than a Provincial township), its first steel-framed high rise was realised during the mid-1920s with the erection of the ten-storey Chicago-inspired Ascot Chambers on a prominent corner of Queen and Edward Streets. Then following much debate to determine its location and a 1917 design competition, the new Brisbane City Hall opened in 1930. These were amongst more than 40 projects within the city’s central business district designed by the architectural practices of TR Hall and GG Prentice, and TR Hall and LB Phillips during the interwar years. However, whilst the architectural historian Don Watson has posited that in the 1920s they were ‘the most celebrated practice in Brisbane’ to date only limited research has been undertaken on the practice’s role in the city’s urban development. Today a large portion of this research is limited by what can be gleaned from preserved archival collections. Brisbane’s rapid urban development and modernisation has seen many of the practice’s interwar buildings demolished, also erasing significant built evidence of the city’s interwar growth. Ascot Chambers was demolished in 1995, following the owner’s court appeal of its 1992 state heritage listing. Based on a detailed review of the practice’s archive (the first such review), oral histories taken by others plus further by the authors, and a mapping of the practice’s completed interwar projects within Brisbane’s central streets, this paper examines their architectural achievements, as well as their contribution to the urban planning of their city.