The Port of Liverpool Building (formerly Mersey Docks and Harbour Board Offices, more commonly known as the Dock Office), is a Grade II listed building located in Liverpool, England. It is sited at the Pier Head and along with the neighbouring Liver Building and Cunard Building is one of Liverpool's "Three Graces", which line the city's waterfront. It is also part of Liverpool's UNESCO designated World Heritage Maritime Mercantile City.
The history of the Port of Liverpool Building dates back to 1898, when the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board (MDHB) decided to close down and infill George's Dock, which was located on the site of what is the Pier Head today. The land was sold to the Liverpool Corporation in 1900, although the MDHB opted to keep the southern section, so that they could build a new central headquarters for the company, having been previously located at various sites around the city, including the Old Custom's House.
In 1900, a committee was set up by the MDHB to plan and develop a new building for the company. Under the leadership of Robert Gladstone, a competition was launched for local architects to submit designs for the new building. Alfred Waterhouse, a renowned local architect was brought in to help judge the competition and prizes of £300, £200 and £100 were offered for the three best designs. In total, seven entries were submitted, with the winning design being that of the architects Sir Arnold Thornley and F.B. Hobbs, which had been developed in collaboration with Briggs and Wolstenholme. Due to boundary changes of the land on which the building was to be built, amendments were made to the design, most notably with the central dome, which was only added at the last minute. In 1903, with the design now confirmed, the MDHB requested that a number of builders submit a tender document for the construction of the building to the revised design. Over 30 builders were contacted, with William Brown & Son of Manchester winning the contract to construct the new building. Work began in 1904, with the first nine months of construction focusing on laying the building's foundations, which were dug to a depth of 30–40 ft below ground level. The building's frame was built from reinforced concrete, which was then clad in Portland Stone, a design that meant the building was more fire resistant than with other structural forms. It was completed in 1907 at a cost of approximately £250,000, although when the cost of furniture, fittings and professional fees was taken into account, the total cost was nearer £350,000. Staff from the MDHB headquarters officially moved into the building on 15 July 1907, with staff from departments located in other areas of the city moving in throughout the rest of the year. The building acted as the head offices of the MDHB (renamed the Mersey Docks and Harbour Company in 1972) for some 87 years.
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