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Milica Krstic

Belgrade, Serbia
1 of 1
Milica Krstic

Milica Krstic (maiden name Milica Colak Antic) is one of important representatives of the architectural profession in Serbia between the two wars. As an author whose work has marked the architectural and urban image of Belgrade, and as a tireless advocate of her profession, Milica Krstic is considered one of the most important woman architect of the first half of the 20th century, who left a visible trace in the development of contemporary Serbian architecture.

She was born on September 9th 1887 in Kragujevac, as the granddaughter of Duke Colak-Anta Simeonovic. After graduating from the Girls High School in Belgrade in 1905, she enrolls in architecture studies at the Architecture department of the Technical faculty of the University of Belgrade. During her studies she met her husband Zarko Krstic, also an architect.

The carrier of Milica Krstic is an interesting example of advancement and a career in civil service. In 1915 Milica Krstic began her employment at the Architectural department of the Ministry of Construction, on complex tasks of design and construction, which she will continue to do until her retirement on November 22nd 1941. The Architectural department of the Ministry of Construction was at the time the most important and the largest architectural office in the country, where her colleagues were Momir Korunovic, Pavle Ilkic, Nikolaj Krasnov, Vasilij Androsov, Branislav Kojic and others. During her career Milica Krstic advanced in service a total of 19 times, moving up from an assistant architect to architect, consultant, senior consultant and finally inspector.

Work at the Ministry had a great impact on her creative path, but has also limited it with the requirements and restraints of the civil service. Like other women in architecture at that time, Milica Krstic was assigned to projects of school buildings that marked her creative opus. She designed various school buildings, from small village and town schools around Serbia to monumental high-school buildings in Belgrade. In the period from 1923 to 1929 she developed a series of designs for high-schools in Serbia, mostly in the style and spirit of local building traditions.

Although she started her career designing village schools, advancement in service resulted in assignments to more complex tasks. Her first monumental building was the Command of Gendarmerie from 1931, in 14 St. Sava Street in Belgrade, today occupied by the Commercial Bank.

Two monumental school buildings in the very heart of Belgrade were the highlight of her career. These two houses, which still stand today and equally successfully serve their purpose, are The Second Girls High School from 1932 (today Electro-technical High School Nikola Tesla), and The First Boys High School from 1936.

Milica Krstic spent her entire career in the Architectural department of the Ministry of Construction. During this time she was engaged on a large number of projects, as construction supervisor, as audit for projects by other authors, and in various committees evaluating and approving different projects. She was a very well educated women, who spoke French, Spanish, English and German, and was energetic and responsible. Advancing in service, she was given an opportunity to work and live for a while in Buenos Aires and Ankara, working on the construction of the Embassy building for the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Her personal and professional values brought her recognition in service, as well as several government medals. On the recommendation by the Minister of Construction, in 1928 she received the St.Sava Medal of the 5th Order. In 1935, another recommendation by the Ministry concluded with her receiving the St.Sava Medal of the 4th Order. As a senior consultant, in 1938 she was appointed head of the Section for state buildings and buildings intended for public use of the Architectural department, at the same time her colleague Momir Korunovic was appointed head of the Section for monumental buildings, churches and monuments. In 1939 another medal followed - the Yugoslav Crown.

She was socially active in professional associations like "The Architect's Club", where she held several lectures about conferences she visited abroad, transferring to her colleagues her own impressions about their peers who are today regarded as Modernist icons, as well as female societies such as "The Circle of Serbian Sisters" and "The Yugoslav Women's League for Peace and Freedom". She fought for better standing of her female colleagues and often emphasized their work and credits.

She finally reached the highest position at the Ministry of Construction - she was named inspector in 1940, one year before retiring. Milica Krstic spent the war years and the turbulent post-war times in her house in Silvija Kranjcevica Street, which she built with her husband in 1937, based on her own design. Through the house passed Germans and partisans, uninvited guests and criminals - some stayed for shorter and some for longer periods, and Milica Krstic remained through all that hardship with strong spirit and unbreakable will, to which the remaining documents from her life can testify. She passed in 1964, and afterwards, in 1970s and 1990s, her house was extended and completely altered.

Among her personal documents there is a hand written oath she took in front of the Minister of Construction when in 1934 she became Consultant of the 4th group. The oath read: "I, Milica Krstic, do swear to Almighty God that I will be loyal to the ruling King Peter II and the Fatherland, that I will do my duty according to law and lawful instructions, consciously, diligently and impartially, keeping in mind only common public interest and avoiding all that could be detrimental to the duty hereby entrusted to me. So help me God."

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Belgrade, Serbia
sonjadragovic, March 30th, 2019
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