The building was designed by Sir Arnold Thornley (1870 - 1953) and F.B. Hobbs in collaboration with Liverpool Architects Briggs and Wolstenholme. It was constructed between 1904 and 1907. The building has a reinforced concrete frame and is clad in Portland Stone.
The building acted as the headquarters of the Mersey Docks & Harbour Board from 1907 to 1994 when the company relocated to new premises at Seaforth Dock.
At the very beginning of the 20th Century the area now known as Pier Head consisted of the 1771 built George's Dock which was connected to Canning Dock to the South and George's Basin to the North.
The Mersey Docks & Harbour Board decided to close and infill George's Dock and the land was sold in 1900 to Liverpool Corporation, they did however retain a parcel of land at the South end of the site to build a new headquarters building that brought together all their offices which were scattered around the city.
In 1900 they organised a design competition and prizes of £300, £200 and £100 were offered for the three best designs. In total seven entries were received the winner being the entry submitted by Sir Arnold Thornley and F.B. Hobbs in collaboration with Briggs and Wolstenholme
In 1903 the Contract to construct the new building was tendered and won by William Brown & Son of Manchester. Work began in 1904 and 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. Head office staff officially moved into the building on 15 July 1907 with staff from departments located in other parts of the city moving in throughout the rest of the year.
During the second world war the building was badly damaged during the May Blitz of 1941.
The Building is designed in the Edwardian Boroque style which takes features from two main sources, French 18th Century Architecture and English 17th Century (Wren) Architecture. Typical details of this style of Architecture include domed corner rooftop pavilions and a central taller tower-like element creating a lively rooftop silhouette.
The building's central dome is the main focal point of the building, although it was not part of the original design. LAst minute changes resulted in the dome being added, the main entrance was also moved to its current location following a chnage in the buildings layout caused by a land ownership issue.
The building has five floors is 67m high and is approximately rectangular in shape (80m x 66m). The main entrance is located in the centre of the river-facing side of the building and is flanked by two three-metre high, stone statues of women representing "Commerce" and "Industry".