Fremantle Ports' Administration Building was designed by architects Hobbs, Winning and Leighton in the post-war international style and built by A T Brine and Sons Ltd in 1963. It was officially opened on 5 March 1964.

The foyer is open to the public during business hours (8am-5pm, Mondays to Fridays, excluding public holidays).

Displays of historic and contemporary photos of the port are featured on a widescreen in the foyer.

You can watch the rolling display of photos and take in Howard Taylor's mural, the tessellated wall tiles and the beautiful parquet floor made of Western Australian timbers.

History and design

The 11-storey building was built to accommodate the then Fremantle Harbour Trust's existing staff in one building instead of the pre-existing eight buildings around the wharf area.

The building has aesthetic qualities that boldly countered the pre-existing character and scale of the wharf and its buildings, and as such, it has significance as a technological milestone. Its built form, scale and materials, together with the then new sciences in building services, signified a radical 'modern' change in the port's image and operation. The building itself has particular architectural qualities representative of the international style of the time.

The Queen visits the port in 1963. The partially built Administration Building is in the background.

Foundations: The steel-framed office and service tower building is carried on 120 'Franki' piles driven to an average depth of about nine metres below ground level. The loading capacity of each pile varies between 61-72 tonnes.

Lighting: Special consideration was given to the orientation of the office tower so that controlled natural lighting could be obtained from the north and south, while the west and east walls are blanked off. All windows are in anodised aluminum frames glazed with anti-glare glass and are completely reversible, allowing all window cleaning to be carried out from within the building.

Tiling: A special feature of the building is the use of tiling for both exterior wall finish and interior wall decoration. The whole of the walls externally are tiled, which not only gives a permanent sparkling effect but was designed to reduce maintenance to a minimum in an atmosphere laden with salt.

Ground floor roof: This roof is the first known one of its type in Australia. It is a folded roof pattern of pre-stressed concrete units in two spans each of 20 metres.

Foyer floor: The floor in the foyer is a parquet of local timbers jarrah and wandoo.

Foyer artwork: The foyer features a mosaic mural by WA painter and sculptor Howard Taylor. This mural, describing patterns of water movement, was named after the Roman god of rivers and seaports, Portunus. The more commonly known Roman story is the boy who rode the dolphin to guide ships into harbour.

More information is in the Fremantle Ports Administration Building 50 Years booklet.

(References include Victoria Quay and its architecture, City of Fremantle publication, 1991)