Office Buildings

Throughout the twentieth century office buildings, erected mainly in Perth, have represented a number of architectural styles brought to Western Australia from Great Britain, Europe and the United States, chiefly through Melbourne.  These influences were first carried to Western Australia during the gold rush of the 1890s when Perth suddenly went from having just 15 professional architects in 1895 to having 102 in 1896.  This group of, often Melbourne-trained, architects shaped the next thirty years of public, private and commercial buildings.


Many of the commercial and office buildings constructed in the early 1900s reflect the wealth created in Western Australia by the gold rush and the widespread desire to establish permanent, substantial edifices.  The monumental buildings of this period communicate the power of the British Empire and Western Australia's sense of place within Empire, as well as a growing self-belief in Australia's westernmost State.

There are several architectural threads evident at this time.  Built with Donnybrook stone (quarried from 1903 until the early 1950s) or in red, tuck pointed brickwork most of the new buildings in town centres were commercial offices and warehouses. These 'monumental' buildings were characterised by stone or stucco mouldings, attached columns and pilasters, often with cast iron decorations, all of which were ornamental rather than functional.  An Italianate style was used to build hotels, shops and some offices. 
Architects in the Edwardian period favoured classical elements, with many buildings of monumental appearance, projecting masonry casting deep shadows, recessed windows, ornate stucco work, cement balustrades and uniform facades finished in stucco or Donnybrook stone.

Western Australian public and commercial buildings constructed in Edwardian classicism sought to impose a sense of orderliness and authority.  The General Post Office building in Forrest Place (begun in 1914 and completed in 1923) represented this style with classical pillars used to communicate a sense of solidity and permanency.

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