Brisbane Arcade was designed by Richard Gailey (Jr), who is regarded as one of Queensland’s most important earlier architects. The building links Queen St to Adelaide St, and the design of the arcade reflects the archetype of the traditional arcade, which developed in Europe in the late 18th century.
The arcade has three levels of shops flanking a lofty central gallery under a solid roof with clerestory lighting. Architectural details of interest include the Edwardian Baroque-style street facades, original terrazzo stairs, balustrades and dado panelling. The Brisbane Arcade received Heritage Listing in 1992.
Customs houses were built in all major Australian ports in the 19th century. Customs and excise duties were an important source of revenue, levied on goods from overseas and in some cases from other colonies. Shipping was crucial to Brisbane's development. Exports of timber and wool were matched by imports of manufactured goods and foodstuffs. Opened in 1889, the impressive copper-domed Customs House reflected the growing prosperity of maritime trade in the colony.
The grand facades of the building, designed to demonstrate the economic strength and stability of the colony. Brisbane Customs House is a fine example of Victorian Free Classical style, with its grand colonnades and portico, and a dome which still manages to be a major feature on the landscape.