The design of Council House resulted from a national architectural competition conducted by Perth City Council in 1960. Over 60 designs were submitted and the winning design was by Jeffrey Howlett and Don Bailey of Melbourne, who subsequently moved to Perth to set up practice for the design and construction of the building. The resulting building is recognised throughout Australian as one of the finest examples of 1960s ‘minimalist modern’ office buildings in the country and was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, on 25 March 1963.
There were a number of details incorporated in the design that attracted particular attention at the time of construction. The area on which Council House, Perth stands is floored with local grey Mundaring granite and the building was designed so that natural and artificial lighting has maximum visual effect, both internally and externally.
The uninterrupted floor to ceiling double glazing provides the building occupants with spectacular views of the city and the river, while the building has a unique appearance of transparency, particularly at night, prompting one journalist to write that ‘it has the effect of a glittering diamond in the city when night falls.’
The tiled T-shaped sunshades quickly became the subject of comical references to one particular Lord Mayor. Located at floor level on each storey and installed like stage lights, concealed illumination lit up the drawn venetian blinds giving a stark and dramatic effect on the sun hoods and fins, which appeared to stand end-on-end up the four walls of the building.