The Retail Rejuvenation of Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall

The work by Tetra Tech’s High Performance Buildings Group was key in rejuvenating the Queen Street Mall in Brisbane, Australia, turning it into the shopper’s ultimate destination and achieving 4 Star Green Star Retail Rating in the process.

Brisbane’s Queen Street Mall is one of the most successful pedestrian malls in Australia. The 21st Century overhaul of the 1980s shopping mall ensures its popularity as a retail and leisure destination for both locals and tourists.

The scope of Tetra Tech’s work entailed the Wintergarden indoor shopping center and the pedestrianized 170 Queen Street on the opposite side of the mall. Together, these two centers include 30,000 square meters (322,917 square feet) of prime retail space. The client required seamless access between the two, and a cohesive, simplified shopping experience.

The work at Wintergarden involved considerable demolition—including up to three floors—in a live environment where retail tenants, leisure tenants, such as the Hilton Hotel which sits atop the mall, and customers of both, expected uninterrupted service. Heritage buildings to the south, the Brisbane arcade, and on the other side, the old National Bank, meant careful consideration of works to avoid endangering the fabric of those cherished buildings. Enabling the center to continuously trade through such an extensive modification took careful collaboration, significant planning, and sequenced staged work.

The collection of buildings, some of which were 30 years old, presented a disjointed street frontage. One of the challenges was to find a way of unifying and modernizing the face of the buildings. The spectacular art façade of stainless steel and a clever lining treatment transformed into a 3D depiction of a winter’s garden and melded the exterior of the buildings together into a cohesive and stunning visual.

The target of achieving a 4 Star Green Star Retail Rating involved some clever design and structural maneuvers. The repurposing of the existing structure reduced the embodied energy of the project, while the clever use of energy and plant machinery, LED lighting, and intelligent metering and building management systems ensured the Green Star rating was achieved.

The strengthening of existing columns at Wintergarden prepares the way for a commercial office tower in the future, while 16-meter-high (53-foot-high) street frontages at 170 Queen lured flagship brands Uniqlo and H&M to occupy this premium space. The effort of Tetra Tech to understand the design intent of the project and develop an intimate understanding of the specifications was pivotal to its success. The result moves away from a traditional retail model and creates a more permeable and visually active experience, with an intimate boutique feel.

Photo courtesy of JLL