Historic TCB Building Gets New Lease on Life

new TC Beirne urban arcade
Artist's impression of new TC Beirne urban arcade

Fortitude Valley’s historic TC Beirne and Burlington Buildings are to be refurbished and reinvigorated into a new urban retail precinct designed by Australasian design firm The Buchan Group.

Constructed in 1902, the TC Beirne Building was designed as a department store by Brisbane architect Robin Dodds. During the 1950s, the TC Beirne building and the nearby McWhirters, established Fortitude Valley as the largest shopping precinct outside of a central business district in Australia.

Artist’s impression of new TC Beirne urban court

Under the new urban renewal project, the ground floor of the TC Beirne and Burlington Buildings will be transformed into The Arcade and The Beirne Laneway, which together will form a new centrepiece for food, beverage and retail in Fortitude Valley.

The project comes as the upper levels of the TC Beirne and Burlington Buildings are set to be converted into a new commercial start-up precinct at the same time.

The Buchan Group Senior Architect Katrina Tolhurst said the refurbishment of the two buildings provided a unique opportunity to celebrate the architectural heritage of one of the Valley’s most distinctive buildings and reclaim its position as one of the area’s premier retail destinations.

She said the TC Beirne Building’s dual street presence, on both the Chinatown and Brunswick Street Malls, allowed for the two precincts to be linked by a central spine of retail and dining tenants.

“Within these spaces, the architectural focus will be on re-introducing texture and materiality, contrast and surprise, as well as providing intimate spaces with an abundance of natural light,” she said.

“The existing building layout will be strengthened to create a new central arcade with access to commercial foyers above, as well as a repositioned laneway with an expanded food and beverage offering. Within these connections, two multi-volume spaces extend upwards, connecting the retail with the commercial precinct above.

Artist’s impression of new TC Beirne urban plaza

“At the entries from China Town Mall and Beirne Lane, a new mesh screen will fold upwards to create an entry statement that respectfully addresses the textural and materiality qualities of the building’s heritage façade and provides a clear entry node for the retail, food and commercial tenancies within.”

Ms Tolhurst said a Feature Atrium would sit within the central arcade and celebrate the heritage volume that extended upwards into the commercial spaces above.

“In the Atrium, ornamentation will be removed from structural elements to re-invigorate and express the strength of the raw materials used in the building’s original construction. A feature fabric sculpture suspended from the ceiling will help to define this area and its connection to the commercial lift foyer,” she said.

“The Beirne Laneway will extend inwards from the Brunswick Street Mall, between the TC Beirne Building itself and the adjacent building. This will allow for an expansion of the food and beverage offering, with new multi-directional seating areas facing into the tenancy and outwards onto the laneway.

“The Beirne Laneway will focus on providing a more intimate and human scale to the building and an engagement with the food and bar tenancies adjacent.

Artist’s impression of new TC Beirne elevation

“Moving through the Beirne Laneway and back inside, the Urban Court will link the central arcade to a new commercial office entry stairway, as well as new retail offerings and existing commercial foyers.

“In this space, a multi-volume height extends upwards providing glimpses into the activity of the commercial and dining tenancies above. The existing tenancy walls and structural elements will be stripped of ornamentation to once again express the raw heritage qualities of the existing building.

“The abundance of natural light from the skylights above this area make it a key location to provide seating and amenity as well as a feature exposed brick wall with street art to celebrate the verticality of the space.”

Katrina Tollhurst has over 15 years’ experience managing the delivery of architecture and interiors projects in Australia and overseas. As a Senior Architect at The Buchan Group in Brisbane, Katrina leads small to medium scale projects from concept through to construction. Her expertise covers numerous project typologies including commercial, mixed-use, retail including corporate identity implementation, leisure and multi-residential.


  1. Thanks for giving the T.C.B. a new life . I am sure the original owner -Thomas Charles Beirne would be pleased. According to Wikipedia – Thomas Beirne was born on 9 July 1860 at Ballymacurly near Ballymoe, Roscommon in Ireland. He migrated to Melbourne on the Lusitania in February 1884. A series of business ventures saw him establish a successful drapery business in Brisbane, Queensland.Thomas Beirne is remembered today by:
    T C Beirne Park, a park that once formed part of the grounds of his Hendra home, Glengariff [6]
    TC Beirne Department Store, now the T C Beirne Centre, a shopping center in Fortitude Valley [7]
    TC Beirne School of Law at the University of Queensland
    A number of buildings associated with Thomas Beirne are listed on the Queensland Heritage Register, including: his home Glengariff in Hendra , his retail premises TC Beirne Department Store and
    accommodation built for his staff Bulolo Flats – still standing top end of McLachlan Street, Fortitude Valley.

  2. I still get the sad feeling that area of F.V. has been dying a slow death for a long time now.

    Perhaps it’s due to the fact that it’s a thoroughfare rather than a destination, with little on street parking. Or perhaps it’s because people don’t like walking around piles of vomit from the nightlife.

    Column A, column B.

  3. Why do architects insist on whitewashing the users of the place? There isn’t a non-white person in any of the images. Everyone is white, young, urban, consuming, able bodied, etc. It’s a disgrace. This area is vibrantly diverse and the architects, crap as Buchan Group are, should become aware.

  4. Hopefully this time the design idea will actually work, the last time was horrible and never seemed to finish completion. The place has been a big empty eye saw for years and years now.


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