The Law Courts Hotel was built in 1863 by architect Henry McDowell Smith as the Auld Scotland Hotel, changing its name in 1902 after the Law Courts were built nearby in 1899. The majority of the original building was demolished in 1937 and re-built in what was considered an especially modern style for the time, then modernised again in the early 1950's when the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh stayed there during their visit to Dunedin in 1954.
Viewed from the outside, the Law Courts Hotel is definitely designed along the principles of modernism with its rounded corners, symmetrical layout, flat roof and horizontal banding. The arrangement and alignment of its windows could be considered a toned-down version of the strip style shown on similar modernist architecture from the time such as the Millers Building in Christchurch.
It also has several features which are in contrast to the modern look such as the decorated friezes and embossed panels. Together, this combination of designs give the impression of a building that is bridging the two architectural styles without fully committing to either.