Blog Holiday copy

It has been an exciting and rewarding year at CJK Design.  From the end of 2011, we have witnessed the Consecration of St Andrew in Riverside and completed a number of Concept Designs from New York to Maryland to Haiti.  We have begun construction on three more church projects in Williamsburg, VA; Pittsburgh, PA and Fishers, IN and have seen the completion of a number of others including St Spyridon Renovation of the Family Center and the St Sophia Temple in Valley Forge.  We have also recently completed construction of a couple gorgeous custom, private residences in Petaluma, CA and Columbia, MO. Beside the purely architectural front, we’ve also been hard at work designing a number of sacred space items including icon screens, chairs and other liturgical furniture and flooring design for multiple clients in diverse places including Braintree, MA, Valley Forge, PA, Pittsburgh and Fishers.  Here are some images on a small selection of our projects.   Merry Christmas and we hope the New Year brings us together once more.


Saint Andrew Orthodox Church opens their doors to the community and Consecrates the Church Temple With our design that creates an inclusive fusion of various ancient Orthodox churches, in particular St Catherine in Thessaloniki and the Vatopedi Monastery at Mount Athos, Saint Andrew Orthodox Church has officially Consecrated their new Orthodox temple on the highly visible site adjacent to UC Riverside.  The skill, direction and most importantly dedication of David Mouck as Construction Manager to the project and mission has resulted in the project on time & on budget project with great results.  As the architects of this beautiful and impressive temple, we were on hand with Fr Josiah Trenham and the rest of the Parish for the ceremony commemorated on December 13th, 2011 to celebrate this important occasion.  We will follow up with additional details on the project in a future post. St Andrew 1 St Andrew 2



Holy Trinity Pittsburgh Greek Orthodox Church construction is well underway

The new Temple and support space is being constructed on an incredible site in the North Hills of Pittsburgh.  Bridges Construction is working as General Contractor to ensure a great home for the Parish.  The church recently moved out of their old building into a temporary home near the site and is looking forward to occupying the temple in June of 2013.   They plan on having Dr George Kordis paint the iconography in April.  We look forward to sharing progress with you in the coming months.

Aerial Image of the Project (Oct 2012)

Aerial Image of the Project (Oct 2012)

Progress in Early Dec 2012

Progress in Early Dec 2012

Inside the Nave

Inside the Nave with the Job Super

HT 1


Innovative design in Fishers, IN is in Construction

St George Antiochian Orthodox Church is constructing their new two level temple and support.  This traditional Byzantine octagonal plan is in the capable hands of David Mouck who completed St Andrew.  His passion for our projects and Orthodox Architecture will ensure a great result.  The project is innovative due to the use of ICF (insulated concrete forms) for all of the exterior walls.  This not only creates a solid, well insulated building, but creates a form that goes up quickly saving time and cost.  Innovative use of LED lighting and efficient mechanical design will ensure the building will perform exceptionally throughout its life.  Look for further updates on this great project.

Front Rendering

Front Rendering

Interior Of Nave

Interior Of Nave

Lower Level Hall

Lower Level Hall

Progress of the IFC construction

Progress of the IFC construction



Alex and Faye Spanos Faith and Heritage Center @ the Metropolis of San Francisco St Nicholas Ranch

Exterior East

This project is an interesting smaller project that will have a big impact on the functioning of the St Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center.  This barn-like building is refined yet rustic structure, both Athon
ite and  Country in character with diversity of function; from office space to meeting for large and small groups, a repository for artifacts relating to the history of the Metropolis and a jewel like chapel to be dedicated to St Photini.  We will be breaking ground in the new year with his Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos, the main benefactor Michael Spanos and other supporters of this important project.  Look for additional info as we move forward

Exterior Long

View to the Chapel


View to the St Photini Chapel
Metropolitan Anthony Lecture Hall

Metropolitan Anthony Lecture Hall


St Sophia Greek Orthodox Church Thyranoixia and completion of Phase 1 iconography

The Parish has celebrated their Thyranoixia this past April and has completed their first phase of iconography with Dr Kordis.  The result is magnificent and transformative thanks to the good work of the Parish Leadership with Fr Peter Thornberg and Building Committee Chair Dean Laskaris at the helm and the whole leadership team along with the strong efforts of Horst Construction.  See the images below which only partially reflect the grandeur of the whole composition. Additionally please see our previous posts that detail this project. StSophia_Exterior

Nave with Iconography

Nave with Iconography

Sanctuary with Panagia Platytera and the Fathers of the Church

Sanctuary with Panagia Platytera and the Fathers of the Church

Detail of the Prothesis where the Communion is prepared

Detail of the Prothesis where the Communion is prepared

Ss Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church is in Bidding

Currently a major focus in the CJK Studio, this will be a great project with a great parish in Metro D.C.   It features an incredible site which is 17+ acres in a visible location, strong parish leadership and opportunity for growth and ministry.  This new Orthodox Villiage will be a homerun in terms of visibility, service and ministry to the community.

First Floor Plan with 600 seat Temple

First Floor Plan with 600 seat Temple

Computer rendering of the New Temple

Computer rendering of the New Temple


We will be updating you on all these projects and others in the coming year.  Looking forward to the promise of 2013 and beyond.

A New Dawn’s Light – St Sophia Thyranoixia Begins a New Chapter for Holy Week

After 30 years since its founding and in the vision of it’s dynamic Pastor of blessed memory, Father John Limberakis, today, with Father Peter Thornberg at the helm along with a  dedicated Leadership team and Parish, wonderful miracles continue to occur in historic Valley Forge, a special place, in the Metro Philadelphia Environs.

Entry of the New Temple

The Thyranoixia was held on April 7th on the Saturday of Lazarus.  Metropolitan Evangelos and Fr Peter Thornberg led the celebration, with over 450  present.  The next day saw crowds of over 550 on Palm Sunday to celebrate Christ’s procession into Jerusalem and the First Sunday of the Church Temple’s presence.

Metropolitan Evangelos @ the Thyranoixia (Opening of the Doors) on Saturday of Lazarus

“It’s hard to believe that we broke ground just a year ago, with site beginning immediately, and the building commencing in late June” Father Peter reflects.  “We have moved with incredible focus and resolve in creating a beautiful landmark dedicated Orthodox Faith and the Glory of God, we have been blessed with pastoral support received from His Eminence, Metropolitan Evangelos and the Team work of our Building Committee led by Chair, Dean Laskaris, and the Parish Council with its President John Papadimitriou”

Metropolitan Evangelos notes, “I am astonished and so proud of the parish of St Sophia…  For their resolve, speed and quality achieving such beautiful results in a magnificent   Building and Incredible Iconography, an example for all to behold”

Panocrator in the dome

Given Fr John Limberakis’ founding vision in the planting and development of the Parish over 30 ago, sons Anthony and Cary rejoice at what a parish of less than 200 families have accomplished, …” Our Father is beaming from above, and working overtime with our Lord in blessing the works of this dedicated group ” Anthony muses, and Presvyteria says   “Father John, was obsessed with having Architect Christ Kamages come to Valley Forge to design the Church when we saw his handiwork in Las Vegas, now Father’s vision has become real!”

Icon of Christ trampling the Gates of Hades and rescuing Adam and Eve from the grave at His Resurrection

Parish Council President, John Papadimitriou adds “We have been blessed with our Parish Team along with the Design and Construction Team, who have been amazing, created a product of such quality and value in very short period of time.  These efforts and results are amazing, we have been truly blessed”

Building Committee Chair Dean Laskaris, who met and married his wife Nina ( with FR John Limberakis’ “guidance “) has been involved with the Building project since 2004 and notes ” Our parents set the tone and example of our connection and support of the Church, We as a leadership felt, after years of circling the runway, without closure that we had to pursue a realistic  path that  met the current  and future needs of our community… in an economic package that could be achieved, that would be appropriate for our parish”

When asked what were the keys to achieving the superlative results of St Sophia, Laskaris noted:  “Firstly, Understanding, in a realistic manner, the opportunities and constraints; Secondly, Having a Professional Resource, as Christ KamagesAIAand his CJK Team, as the source of all design, management and technological guidance as part of the core of your team; and lastly Systematic and Persistent Pursuit of The Mission and Goals of the Plan and not taking NO as an acceptable answer.”

The new Temple is a visible Witness

A Lighthouse of the Faith

The construction of the $4M project ($2.5 Building Cost), which accommodates about 450 worshipers, began one year ago.  In recent months, its unique façade with its now copper-clad domes and golden crosses has become a familiar landmark to passers-by on heavily traveled Trooper Road just north of Historic Valley ForgePark.  The special AXIOS design is the work of a. Kamages and his CJK Design Team of San Francisco.  Kamages and His Firm specializes in working with Orthodox Parishes and has more than 100 such projects to their credit within North America.  The Byzantine Rooted design is rooted back to the 6th century of Christianity and is typical of churches commonly found in the Mediterranean and Asia Minor.  In keeping with the Byzantine church tradition, the interior of the sanctuary has been adorned with fresco iconography.  From the Apex of the 55 foot high dome which depicts Jesus Christ and the Old Testament prophets, to the lower pendentive regions which display large, colorful murals depicting important scenes from the life of Christ, worshipers will find themselves surrounded by a heavenly panorama.

Congregations Young and Young at heart through The Great Doors

The Beautiful iconography is integrated with the Architecture

World renowned Iconographer Dr George Kordis was so energized in working with St Sophia that he offered the following:

First of all, I would like to thank from my heart His Eminence metropolitan Evangelos for giving us the permission to work in St. Sofia Parish, the faithful members of St. Sofia Parish in Valley Forge, the church parish council and the parish council president, John Papadimitriou; Fr. Peter Thornberg, the Architect Christo Kamages for his masterpiece of a creation; and naturally, all of you who are with us today to share the joy of presenting the church’s wall paintings.

Before I proceed to a brief presentation of the work we did here during the last 6 weeks I would like to expresses my gratitude to Mr.Dean Laskaris And His wife Nina,  not only because they sponsored the main part of the Iconography,  but also because they were the people who inspired this project.  Their attitude is really the best example we can have as Orthodox Christians because Iconography, the narrating of an Orthodox church, is something much more than the decoration of the space.  It is not simply an attempt, to place religious themes on the wall with a didactic or instructive purpose and the creation of a pleasing and beautiful effect.

Long time Parishioner and Committee Member Dr Peter Patukas reflects, “The initiation of the Iconography program came from Nina Laskaris, who did not want their son Leo, growing up in a Church Environment with bare walls void of Iconography.  This a great gesture of vision and generosity”

The results speak for themselves and achieving not only a beautiful authentic Byzantine Church Temple, but a transformative environment, generated by an incredible process, where the local, regional and national audience were exposed to the fusion of Architecture and Iconography, including media, lectures and celebrations, heightening awareness and appreciation of Byzantine Theological and Artistic Traditions, and that Iconography is much more than mere interior decoration.

Looking to the Altar and the Icon of the Theotokos

Tom Cox, Chair of the Capital Campaign, notes “While the building program has witnessed great generosity from the Parish, the Phase 1 Iconography has been significantly supported by Dean and Nina Laskaris… the process has been contagious with many other donations coming forth and in the wings.”  In addition, from outside the Parish a series of major donations have provided by some fantastic friends of the Parish.  The Bell Tower, Geothermal “off -prime time“ supplemental heating system and  CJK-designed Stone Flooring, by Tom and Pamela Papadopoulos, Owners of Colonial Marble and Granite.


The first Palm Sunday service in the new Temple on 04/08 with Fr. Peter standing at the top step of the Marble Iero. Over 500 in attendance for this momentous occasion.

“We are all looking forward to celebrating Easter (or Pascha) in our beautiful new church”, Fr. Peter exclaimed, “and of course we offer thanks to God  and  all who are contributing to making what was once just a dream, a reality for this community”.

A New Dawn for the Parish of St Sophia, Ss Faith, Hope and Love

St Sophia in Valley Forge Set to open Pascha 2012

Progress is well underway on a new Byzantine temple in Valley Forge, the home of St Sophia/ Ss. Faith Hope and Agape Greek Orthodox Church.  After many years of planning, the Parish celebrated their long-awaited groundbreaking on March 6th, 2011 with the sitework construction beginning a couple of weeks later.  Ply-mar Site Contracting and Horst Construction started the building in June 2011 and have been working hard to assure the Parish will celebrate their first Divine Liturgy by Pascha 2012 this coming April.

Progress in Dec 2011

Looking at the Apse in Dec 2011

The new 425 seat Temple has great flexibility in accommodating a range of Liturgical needs.   It is a true Byzantine jewel with 8 columns that organize a central octagonal 6th century nave under a soaring 32’ wide copper colored dome.  Extensive stone and brick work on the exterior is in the style of more rustic Orthodox churches and connects the temple in its environment.  10’ high Great Doors of Iron will lead you into the new Temple that is part of a larger Masterplan.  Future phases of the plan will feature a new chapel on the North side of the Temple and a Gateway building that will connect their existing hall to the new Temple.  The Gateway will house new administration space, classrooms on two levels, library and a unique kafenion serving great coffee and Greek Pastries.  The whole complex will be a great resource for the community and will serve the needs of the Parish now and in the future.

Aerial rendering showing Phase 1 of the Masterplan

An early rendering showing the Temple, Chapel and Gateway Building

Architect's Rendering of the New Temple

The Dome structure was raised into place on October 14th and the building is now completely dry inside.  You can see progress of the work by logging into the parish website and looking at their webcam that has continued to document the progress.

Raising of the Dome in October 2011

Framing of the interior of the Dome - the Icon of Heaven

Looking at the south side of the Temple

Looking towards the Nave from below the Mezzanine

Now that the interior is ready, the Parish is working with iconographer Dr. George Kordis to complete the entire initial phase of the iconography plan in the Apse, Dome and Nave spaces.  Dr. Kordis and his team has started their work on Jan 29th and will be working through March 10th.  You can read more about George and his work at Holy Trinity GOC in Columbia, SC here. (  Please come back to see upcoming CJK Design blog entries detailing the amazing progress George and his team have already accomplished.

Kordis iconography maquette Showing the Platytera and Pantocrator

Early Sketches directly on the walls of the Platytera

Initial Work in the Dome with Dr. Kordis

Apse with Color on the Platytera

This has been possible with the paternal support of His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos and the drive and dedication of  the core leadership and benefactors together with the faithful stewards of the Parish.  Axios to the dynamic team and the whole community of St Sophia who have shared their Time, Treasure and Talents to make this project happen. 

There is still time for you, your family or your parish to be a part of this momentous effort through their various fundraising opportunities, including the iconography sponsorship, interior sacred space sponsorship and “buy a brick” programs.  Click here to find out more.

Stay tuned for more on the progress of the Parish and the work of George Kordis

Village on a Hill – Holy Trinity Pittsburgh breaks ground

With great dedication and perseverance, the Leadership and People of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church of Metro Pittsburgh have written a new Chapter in its 88 year history.

Following the Enthronement of His Eminence Metropolitan Savas on Dec 8th at St Nicholas Cathedral in Pittsburgh, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church welcomed the Metropolitan to their new church site in McCandless Township to preside over their Groundbreaking Ceremony on Sunday, December 11th.

Breaking ground on the new site with His Eminence Metropolitan Savas, Fr John, the Architect and VIPs from the parish and design sides

The sunny weather was a perfect backdrop for the service where the grounds and all the work to come were blessed.  Following Orthos, the Divine Liturgy and a short reception, the parish traveled from their temporary space to the future home of the Parish on the corner of Babcock Blvd. and Cumberland Road where over 400 were in attendance to participate in this important ceremony.  The service was followed up by a luncheon at the Wildwood Country Club.

With deep gratitude and awe, Father John Touloumes, pastor of the Parish, cites the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit and the tireless work of the people.  This effort has created the deliberate, step by step Journey and ascension to the new beautiful, acropolis-like site on a hilltop at the intersection of Babcock Blvd. and Cumberland Rd. in the North Hills of Pittsburgh, in the center of parish demographics.  He notes that the “eclipse of the immensity of multiple tasks and challenges, one by one reaching closure and successful results indicated that the Lord was really the Project Director.”

Aerial view of the new site in the North Hills @ the corner of Cumberland Rd (at the bottom) and Babcock Blvd.

CJK Design has worked closely with the Parish to create a Masterplan design that fits the budget and needs of the Parish for the Present and the Future.

Church Temple (Red) and Kendron (Parish Life Center in Blue) are in Phase One of this ambitious project.

“You are the light of the world–like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.”  Matthew 5:14

The Parish will be constructing their new home which includes an authentic light-filled Byzantine Temple that seats over 300 worshipers under a 33’ wide dome.  The plans also include support spaces featuring classrooms, a fireside room for informal gatherings, administrative spaces, a bookstore and library, a large, glass enclosed foyer/Stoa for pre-functions which leads into the Great Hall seating over 400 for conference, banquets and parish activities and an equally impressive kitchen and bakery capable of serving the hall and the on-site Festivals that share the Greek culture and Heritage with the community.   Future Development will include a full recreation Center and Field house with a Gymnasium that will prove to be a valuable Community Resource.

The resultant effort creates a “Village on the Hill”   

New Temple and Kendron Aerial Rendering

Rendering of the 400 seat hall

We are looking forward to working with their selected general contractor Bridges and Co. of Pittsburgh to make this project a great success for the whole community and the great people of Holy Trinity!

Temple Elevation looking at entrance

Light at the end of the tunnel

Ss Nicholas, Constantine and Helen is in the process of creating a Landmark Witness  for the Faith in the Metropolis of  New Jersey.  Two parishes have merged into one and are in the process of building a new 40,000+ sq ft home for the faithful Greek Orthodox community on a beautiful 11 AC site in Northern New Jersey,all under the spiritual paternal guidance of Metropolitan Evangelos.  While it has been a long journey,progress is building momentum there is light at the end of the tunnel, with occupancy for the Church Temple and support spaces by PASCHA 2011. Stay tuned as we will keep posted with progress as the many elements are installed and constructed as the Copper Toned Millennium Stainless Steel Domes  , Gold Leaf Crosses and Stone and Brick Exterior.Progress is steady under the leadership of President James Sumas and a Dedicated Building Committee lead by Robert Sumas…along with Construction Manager TEKTON

Beyond the building project, CJK DESIGN  is also working with V Rev  Seraphim Poulos and his committee on the complete interiors package and Iconography….

Take a look at the latest images from the site showing progress and well as some interior studies.  Also, check out this article from our Structural Engineers – SGH

Church Temple eastern apse, blue waterproofing on dome will soon be copper toned stainless steel

The Chapel in progress with tile roof and stone walls

The main Dome in it's pure structure already suggests a Magnificent presence and testament

The new temple will seat over 500

A study generating multiple Icon Screen options

Thyranoixia of St Michael the Archangel

“You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.”  Matthew 5:14

St Michael's new Temple

I attended the official opening of a Church we designed (just north of the Greek town of Tarpon Springs) in Lecanto, Florida

 Built upon a hill!  It is a miracle story with less than 100 families achieving great heights, founded by an incredible group of dedicated families and Father George Papadeas, a wunderkind, first graduate, and one of the last remaining of the Pomfort Legacy…a truly incredible fusion of Leadership, Faith, dedication and hard work.  The parish, founded in 1981, has been holding services in its Parish Center dedicated to the late Mr. Michael G. Cantonis, Great Benefactor of the community.  In February, the Parish’s byzantine style church, designed by CJK Design was completed.  The Parish held the formal Thyranoixia services and a banquet on the weekend of May 22nd and 23rd with His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios officiating.

Door opening Ceremony on May 23rd

Here in Lecanto with our friends for the Thyranoixia of the new St. Michael the Archangel Church Temple, I am inspired by this growing parish of 100 families.  Metropolitan Alexios, Proistamenos Demetrios Simeonides and Founding Pastor Fr George Papadeas, led the Celebration.  I consider Fr. George my spiritual father, as it was he who baptized me in 1948 in our home (no Churches on the Island) in the Hamptons with the font from the Cathedral in New York.  Fr. George, with his efforts as Patmos Press, also saved Holy Week for us with his incredible translation (the little black book). 

This TRIAD 350 seat Design is rooted in the 6th century and only the second built in History, with the first the TRIAD 600 for Holy Trinity in Carmel, Indiana

First Divine Liturgy after the Thyranoixia

 Much to Celebrate today…Glory to God!

Lecanto Florida parish Moving Forward

The Greek Orthodox Community of the Archangel Michael Parish in Lecanto, celebrated their first Divine Liturgy in their new church on Sunday February 28th.  congratulations to this committed group of people on their many successes.  

The formal Thyranoixia or Door Opening Ceremonies will be held on May 22nd and 23rd (Pentecost Sunday) when His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, will arrive to officiate at the formal ceremonies and services.  

This project has been a long time in the making and thanks to a truly dedicated parish, this small community has managed to build a true Orthodox gem.  While the dome was raised on the eve of the Epiphany 2009, the seeds of this event were planted back in 1985 when the Parish purchased their 10 Acre parcel in Lecanto.  10 years later, in 1995, CJK Design presented the Master plan vision to the Parish.  This Vision still guides them to this day and includes a future chapel, administrative building, classroom/ meeting spaces and an amphitheater.      

This is a great example of a parish phasing construction as resources allow and holding fast to a guiding Vision.  “Where there is no vision, the people shall perish” Pvbs 29:18  

Look for more on this parish’s story and the unique design of their Triad temple which will be a beacon of Orthodoxy throughout Florida and the United States.

The new Church sanctuary sits atop a hill

Transformation that Raises the Bar

Transforming a home, shaping it to meet your goals and needs, creating an encompassing vision of exactly what you want.  This can be a daunting yet exhilarating endeavor.  The Sikora family has undertaking this adventure with CJK Design.  The process and product has been a reciprocal team effort in creating great memories and extraordinary results.The Sikora’s property sits on a beautiful site in a semi-rural landscape of rolling hills dotted with oak trees and the occasional livestock within walking distance of historic (Peggy Sue Got Married) Petaluma, just north of San Francisco.  In order to get the most out of the site, the client contacted us to take stock of their existing house (with its assets and liabilities) and to develop a conceptual & strategic vision of what could be.

The Vision for Sikora Residence

The multiple options we developed displayed a wide range of possibilities.  The resultant multi-phased plans will transform some of the existing spaces while removing or rebuilding others.  Our process engages the client in the design process to create livable, timelessly classic spaces.  The unique architecture is designed to capture the play of light and imbue the spaces with elegance and comfort.  As the plans for this exciting project are developed further, look to Process for the latest updates.

The new Grand Entrance

Rendering of the Dining Room

Openings And Beginnings II

The Vision and the Reality

The parish of St Barbara Greek Orthodox Church in Durham, NC has observed the first Divine Liturgy in their long awaited temple on November 1st in what can be called a “soft opening”.  The beautiful cross in square, Byzantine temple will celebrate the official Thyranoixia (the ceremonial Opening of the Doors) on Father’s Day weekend June 10th, 2010 with Metropolitan Alexios.  Until then, the parish will continue to worship in their new space.  Father Andrew, Pete Marinos and the rest of the Parish community encourages anyone interested in seeing and learning about the new space to attend the Open House, which will be held on St. Barbara’s Feast Day, December 4 from 4-7:30 PM.   See thier website for more info.

 Not without challenges, this opening of their new facilities is a new beginning for a respected Parish in the center of the “Research Triangle”.  A Core First Phase of an ORTHODOX VILLAGE, the Master Plan is designed to facilitate the Spiritual growth and development of the parish.  The vision allows elements to be added as needed around the elliptical courtyard that creates a focus on the Temple while organizing expansion in a logical fashion. 

 We also want to congratulate Bruce Harrod of Riggs-Harrod Builders for their efforts to bring this project to completion.  We salute the whole team, from the Parish Leadership to the parishioners and the multitude of Construction Trades, who have worked tirelessly to make this project a success.  Bravo! 

There will be more insights to share on this beacon of Orthodoxy at the Research Triangle in coming entries.

All about the new church