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Global events space, Howard’s Hall, to open in November at Howard Smith Wharves

August 1, 2018 Meeting Venues No Comments Email Email

Howard Smith Wharves—the game-changing, precinct-transforming development set on the banks of the Brisbane River—is commencing construction on Howard’s Hall this month, and is set to open in November. Designed by award-winning architecture and interiors studio Woods Bagot, the vast, 1100m2 event space will be privy to uninterrupted riverfront views, spanning the iconic Story Bridge and city skyline.

Every inch of this new site is imbued with the sharp aesthetics and whip-smart design sensitivity the firm is known for, and will easily accommodate myriad private and public events—from conferences, meetings, pop-up events and product launches to exhibitions, concerts and weddings. Perhaps that’s why they’ve already got events booked until 2022.

“It’s one of the most exciting projects I’ve ever been involved with,” grins Mark Damant, a Woods Bagot principal and the director of the world-class build. The reasons for this are three-fold. Howard’s Hall is close to the global design firm’s heart—they were founded in Australia, after all—but it’s also architecturally ambitious. There are lofty ceilings that effortlessly enable a sense of airiness and light, retractable floor-to-ceiling windows (designed to capitalise on that enviable riverfront location), and ultra-nimble, flexible space-in-spaces—including rooftop terraces and rooms of varying sizes—that allow multiple events to be hosted at once. In Howard’s Hall internal events space to give a sense of the hosting possibilities, the cocktail capacity is 1200, with the ability to use the outdoor event spaces to extend event capacities.) And finally, there’s the setting, which is, well—pretty much perfect. “This is going to become one of the city’s most memorable spaces, set against one of its most heroic views,” says Mr Damant. “The panorama it offers is absolutely incredible: – the arches of Story Bridge, looking back at the city, across to Kangaroo Point and down the New Farm reach of the Brisbane River.”

Less than 10% of the buildings at Howard Smith Wharves are new. The majority are carefully repurposed heritage spaces. To fit seamlessly into the broader precinct, and respect the site’s weighty history, the new buildings—which include Howard’s Hall, a boutique hotel and overwater bar—will tap into the industrial language of their neighbours. As the largest event space there, Howard’s Hall has been thoughtfully conceived to do just that. It echoes the simple functionality of nearby wharf structures: think an exposed steel frame, a light, shed-like saw tooth roof, and operable walls that reform according to the user’s intent. Each material is humble, unpretentious, and exudes easy elegance, like the timber decking that greets guests on arrival, or the soon-to-be-built rooftop terraces made from recycled wood used elsewhere on the site. With its subtle interior backdrop, one might imagine that the venue could look different at every visit—and that’s part of its allure. It’s a not-quite blank canvas, a place that the curious can make it their own, but remains inviting and charismatic in its natural state.

“Woods Bagot’s design ethos has been instrumental to this space,” says Scott Bayne, General Manager of Events at Howard Smith Wharves. “They understood, from the outset, that the space had incredible potential to be a first-class venue, appealing to international companies and locals alike. Howard’s Hall is paired with a wide range of advanced technological features including a spectacular 15m LED screen, and an immersive Virtual Reality experience, allowing clients to see different room layouts and lighting designs prior to opening.”

Bayne, a master of high-end events, knows the importance of flexible placemaking better than anyone—before making Brisbane his home, he was Director of Events at Star Entertainment Group, and before that, Group Dining Manager of Wynn Resorts in Las Vegas.

When it opens, Howard’s Hall is set to be busy; there are already 700+ bookings in the next 18 months, that stretch out to 2022. The site is well-equipped though—with 250+ staff through peak trading times, and near-350 during festival activations. Closer to opening Howard’s Hall will make some exciting culinary announcements too; though at present these are under wraps.

Adam Flaskas, Director of Howard Smith Wharves, agrees that the Hall’s opening will play a major part in revitalising the precinct. “Everything about this space taps into our ethos. It combines a down-to-earth optimism with a take on luxury that relishes in simple things done exceptionally, from the beauty of architecture and natural surrounds to good food, wine and community. This new lifestyle, dining and tourism destination will reactivate 3.4 hectares of Brisbane’s picturesque riverside, and Howard’s Hall is an integral part of that vision.”

Lord Mayor Graham Quirk said Howard Smith Wharves was transforming into a world-class destination in the heart of Brisbane, that would showcase the area’s rich history and create more to see and do along the river.

“Howard Smith Wharves has been one of the city’s most underutilised riverfront sites for many decades, however this project is unlocking the site’s full potential to deliver Brisbane’s newest lifestyle and leisure precincts,” Cr Quirk said.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reimagine one of the last remaining inner-city reaches of the Brisbane River as one the city’s most attractive and vibrant destinations.

“Once complete, Howard Smith Wharves will become a vibrant leisure destination with public parkland, riverside dining and an exciting mix of entertainment and cultural experiences that will enhance Brisbane’s status as a New World City.”

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