Building of The Miroslav Krleža Institute of Lexicography
The edifice was built in the period from 1891 to 1895 for the editorial board of Narodne novine; in a part of the second floor there were also two apartments. The building was designed and carried out on the basis of direct order by the then very prominent Zagreb architect Kuno Waidmann.
The preparations and publicity relating to the construction of the edifice prove the great social importance that was attached to its construction. Together with the project’s blueprint Waldmann displayed a detailed model made in plaster of Paris, in order to enable the assessment of the outer image of the edifice placed in such an important locality of the city. The amount spent on the construction was 174,000 forints. Waidmann was the independent contractor and designer, and Matija Antolec was the supervisory engineer. All the construction work was executed by domestic craftsmen and workers, except for the installation work on the fitting of the electric lighting in the editorial offices. The printing office and editorial offices were equipped with the steam heating installation.
The construction was accompanied by comments in the press, and the interest for the palace was extremely great, because on account of its position and serious purpose the palace was important for the image of the Lower Town, all the more so as controversies started regarding the setting of the theatre building and the representative square. The present-day locality was personally recommended by Khuen Hedervary. This is the reason that the location of the Narodne novine palace was given a significant position in the urbanistic plan of the Lower Town.
The construction of the Narodne novine palace was a responsible task that demanded high quality architecture. The building was situated on the road junction, open to the large space of the square. Because the building site was at a greater distance from the square, the architect availed himself the use of the cupola as a new architectural and visual element.
The main façade was crucial for the formatting of the northern view of the Theatre Square. Waidmann succeeded in establishing a fine relation with the most monumental building on the northern side of the square and offer the possibility of a view upon both façades of the Narodne novine palace. The outstanding architectural quality leaves a good impression in the whole ambience, as a typical building of that time.
The façades are executed in the Italian High Renaissance style. The southern façade is dominating, and the high row of Corinthian semi-pillars on the central projection and the pilasters on the corner and lateral projection accentuate the vertical growth and monumental proportions. The portal and the plastic arrangement of the projections affect the representative characteristic of the southern façade that is more significant for the formation of the square. In the rest of the elements both façades are identically executed. The entire composition tends toward the Baroque forms, but the vertical and horizontal elements are fractionating in balance.
The façade is rhythmicised by window axes with plastic window frames, particularly those on the first floor to which the second floor is subordinated. The attic above the massive mouldings carries the inscription and ends with the gable. According to the concept design, it was foreseen to place sculptures on the gable and pedestals but they were not placed there. All the decorative details, like the hanging fringes, herbal tendrils, medallions, tendrils with shells, palms and garlands that moderately decorate the façade, are details of the Early Baroque. The cornerstone closes the inner courtyard.
The eastern wing has a one-story courtyard building attached to it where the printing house was allocated. The courtyard tract is in its interior closely connected with the editorial offices and this essential space of the Institute is very simply and well incorporated, particularly to the mutual correlation of the editorial and printing house, while simultaneously there is an isolation of the representative part of the business offices and working space.
The cupola is an architectural and visual element that by its corner projection is a new element in the Zagreb architecture linked to the Waidmann’s name as the first architect who used purely Baroque elements of the northern architecture. The purpose of the cupola, the way it was exploited on the Narodne novine palace, is logical and visually justified.
The monumental image of the Narodne novine palace can be attributed to the composition of architectonic and decorative elements, not to the plastic form of the details. Despite the high order, the horizontal concept is dominating as well as the already famous dense rhythm of the window axes. The massive ground-floor acts as the pedestal of the upper floors that are connected by the Corinthian high row of the central projections and the system of the pilasters. The cupola is the most dominant architectural detail that definitely retains the palace on the square, wherefrom it impresses the perspective from various views. The corner projection as the vertical element and the cupola thus become aesthetically reasonable and justified. When the palace was completed, the architect achieved reputation not only due to the attractiveness of the edifice but also for the speed it was brought to its completion.