Construction of a $50 million administration and library building, part of the $270 million cultural and civic precinct in central Fremantle, is due to begin in August, in what the local council describes as one of the “biggest developments in Fremantle’s history.”
The new building, designed by Kerry Hill Architects, will replace current city council facilities.
The building will adjoin the rear of the historic 1887 Fremantle Town Hall, originally designed by John Grainger and Charles D’Ebro. It will form a triangular footprint that occupies the south-eastern half of Kings Square, with St John’s Anglican Church occupying the other half.
A key feature of the design is an inclined “City Lawn,” partially recessed into the building’s frontage, which will act as a public space and as the entrance to the building. On the ground plane, a new public library will sit partially underneath the lawn, with glass walls allowing views into the library from both the lawn and the street.
Inside the building, a sandstone cylinder “Civic Drum” will contain a number of council offices and function spaces.
The building will replace the current International-style council administration facilities, public library and the Fremantle Visitor Centre. In a heritage report prepared for the council, heritage architects Griffith Architects applauded the way the “design reintegrates the Town Hall back into the centre of civic life.”
While the administration and library building is being paid for by the City of Fremantle, the development of the precinct also includes the $220 million commercial redevelopment of the former Myer building and the demolition of the Queensgate building that sit to the east of Kings Square, by developers Sirona Capital.
Kerry Hill Architects’ won an international design competition in 2013, beating shortlisted practices McBride Charles Ryan and Fremantle-based CODA Studio (which merged with Cox Architecture earlier this month).
Announcing the Kerry Hill Architects design as the victor, Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt said, “As a jury, we selected the Kerry Hill Architects’ proposition of simple, clear elegance that centred on a compelling urban gesture to re-establish Kings Square, which we also found to have a refined architectural palette of form, space and materials.”
Former WA premier Colin Barnett announced in November 2016 that 1,500 state government public servants would be relocated to the new Kings Square facility once built.
Completion is expected in mid to late 2019. Construction on the former Myer and Queensgate buildings will also begin in mid- to late-2017.