National Headquarters

Edmund Barton Building

The Edmund Barton Building, initially known as the Trade Group Offices, was named after Sir Edmund Barton, the first Prime Minister of Australia and a founding judge of the High Court of Australia.

The building, situated prominently on the edge of the Parliamentary Triangle and Lake Burley Griffin, is the National Headquarters for the Australian Federal Police.

Standing on the corner of Macquarie Street and Kings Avenue is a bronze portrait sculpture of Sir Edmund Barton created by Marc Clark, former Head of Sculpture, Victorian College of the Arts. It was unveiled in 1983 by Prime Minister Bob Hawke.

Architecture and refurbishment

The Edmund Barton Building was designed by world-renowned architect Harry Seidler and constructed between 1969 and 1974. The building is a significant Australian landmark and is a listed place on the Commonwealth Heritage List.

A refurbishment, completed in 2009, was undertaken with a focus on maintaining and protecting the main fabric and elements that represent the Commonwealth Heritage Values of the building.

Environmental initiatives were incorporated in the building refurbishment. Double-glazing was applied to all windows to improve energy efficiency and a new chilled beam environmental air conditioning system was installed. Highly energy efficient T5 fluorescent lighting was fitted with movement detectors.

A key feature of the building's original design is the access to natural light. The AFP's fit-out was designed in support of this feature by restricting the construction of built-in areas and maintaining an open plan fit-out.

Indoor plants have been included to enhance the aesthetics of the working environment, improve air quality and provide benefits under the Green Star scheme.

Conference facilities

Within the courtyard of the Edmund Barton Building Harry Seidler placed a quadrant shaped conference centre with a waved roof which is now the AFP Conference Centre.

The centre provides high-quality audio visual, recording, lighting and presentation facilities and can seat up to 100 people.

The centre has a custom fit-out making it an ideal venue for video production and conferencing, research seminars and presentations.


It was the view of Harry Seidler that art and architecture were one in the same and his final sketch plans included two large sculptures within the building courtyard quadrangles.

He proposed two artworks designed by internationally acclaimed American sculptor, Norman Carlberg – 'Column' in the first courtyard and 'Positive-Negative' in the second. Seidler believed that both reflected the elements of his architecture.

Positive-Negative, located in the west courtyard, is a free standing black painted steel form. It was constructed from heavy steel plates rolled into curves and welded together to form a sculpture which resembles a spider. It became known as the Black Widow.

Weighing 15 tonnes and standing 4.8m high, at the time of its construction the sculpture was the biggest single piece steel sculpture in Australia.

Column is a 7.3m high, precast concrete sculpture situated in the east courtyard.

If it doesn't add up, speak up. Call the National Security Hotline - 1800 123 400.

Read the AFP Annual Report 2021-22

Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation - visit website

Policing and community news from the AFP