At the start of the 20th century, Brussels lacked a large exhibition venue for performing artists and an internationally regarded concert hall for symphony orchestras.
In 1913, King Albert I and Queen Elisabeth of Belgium sought a meeting with Brussels burgomaster Adolphe Max at the Royal Palace of Laeken. The royal couple expressed their desire to build a “temple devoted to Music and the Arts, a place in which our country’s aesthetic manifestations will have a rightful place" . A music enthusiast, the queen was an avid concert and opera goer, as well as a musician who studied the violin with virtuoso Eugène Ysaÿe. She became known as a major patron for many artists and musicians.
Belgian architect François Malfait was entrusted with the architecture of the Centre for Fine Arts. On 10 July 1914, Malfait submitted very detailed plans that included 17th century-style facades in keeping with the Place Royale. Progress was cut short by the breakout of World War I.
 Inauguration speech by Adolphe Max, 4 May 1928.