The building of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina was designed by architect Josip Vancaš.
Vancaš decided to make the building façade in style of early Florence Renaissance. The building encounters total area of 3082 square meters, 70 meters long and 65 meters wide, with total of 203 rooms. At the ground floor was once scheduled accommodation for officers, guards and porters, banks, departments of forestry, land archives, National cashew, and other purposes.
On the first floor is located stateroom, and the second floor was planned for the other four classes of Government, the Supreme Court, tobacco inspectorate, accounting and mining departments. The opening works ceremony was carried out on 19th of March 1884, and the work were finished as planned, two years. The building was opened in March of 1886.
REASONS AND CONSTRUCTION
Shortly after the Austro – Hungarian occupation of Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1878, there was a problem of accommodation of occupational army and their government.
The Ottoman authorities have built Konak as the only building which would accommodate state organs, so that is why the Austro-Hungarian army was initially located in the private houses, and central government authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina were the bulk around the city inside dilapidated buildings and rented private homes.
In the beginning of 1879, after a short period of military administration, National Bosnian government started to operate. Since then every year on, while determining the budget, there was a demand for the construction of appropriate buildings for the accommodation of government bodies. However, due to the non-delayed investments which occupational government invested in the creation of cadastre, building roads, railroads, and other military purposes, the works on the new Presidency deferred for several years.
During this time, the old Ottoman buildings were repaired, but none of them would suit the need National authorities. Also, constant threat of fire was all around. National government pointed these facts to the Joint Ministry in Vienna, responsible for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and especially the consequences that could occur because of archives destruction.
That fear was not unfounded, since in 1879, the catastrophic fire burned large part of old part of Sarajevo. In addition, all this was very expensive because of high rent payments for private buildings, as well as maintenance cost of dilapidated buildings. Such state did not enable further expansion of government, what was a constant demand.
The arrival of Benjamin Kalaj as Minister of the Joint Ministry of Finance in Vienna in 1882, meant that preparations for the construction of Presidency building would move faster. The very same year he wrote to National Government that in 1882, that the funds would not be approved during the 1882, but in 1883, part of the investment funds for building construction would be approved, so it is required to immediately start the technical preparations.
Kalaj in the beginning of his mandate required that some central authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina should act uniquely in conducting its affairs, but on arrival at Sarajevo he was convinced that can not be achieved under such a conditions, when the financial administration, political and judicial administration are separate from each other.
Therefore, in its proposal to the emperor he claimed that unique and efficient work of the government can be achieved only if all departments and officials of the National government would be united into one physical space, and that mutual and written correspondence should be replaced with regular daily personal contacts between head of individual departments and their officials.
In the end all the Government bodies would be merged into one body. Convincing the Emperor in need of construction of the building in Sarajevo, Kalaj pointed political reasons too. Given the bad, and partially dishonorable accommodation for the central authorities, the citizens of this country would conclude that it is only temporary character.
In anybody would want the protection from the Government, it would be very difficult, since all government departments are spilled all across the city, what also, according to Kalaj, ruins the government reputation. Today, this building still serves its original purpose.