The Civic buildings stand in Cathays Park, once the site of a short lived Georgian mansion (1812-25), built for the 1st Marquess of Bute. The Bute family sold the 59 acres to the town in 1898, for £159,000. Plans were drawn up for the new buildings, and the new Town Hall (Cardiff was not yet a City) was to form its focal point.
The design was by the firm of Lanchester, Stewart and Rickards, who had won the architectural competition for this prestigious commission. With a budget of £125,000, construction was begun by the local firm of E. Turner and Sons in 1900, and was completed in 1904. The design is inspired by English and French Renaissance architecture, but has in addition all the presence and confidence of the Edwardian period.