Holy Trinity Masterpiece

The Holy Spirit works through people.
The Triad formed Interior of the Holy Trinity in Carmel, pre-iconography.

The Triad formed Interior of the Holy Trinity in Carmel, pre-iconography.

May God continue to Bless Dr. George Kordis and his team who are working on an iconography program at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Carmel, IN.  Dr. Kordis is working on the first of probably 4 phases of the iconographic plan. Also note that this church is:

– CJK designed
– A Phased plan with Great Hall and support to follow in the coming years
– Unique and copyrighted Triad plan
– A Landmark Facility
Looking at the magnificent dome and entry from the altar / soleas

Looking at the magnificent dome and entry from the altar / soleas

Take a look at some of the progress being made.

Looking into the dome of Holy Trinity.

Looking into the dome of Holy Trinity.



Dr George Kordis with his masterpiece.

Dr George Kordis with his masterpiece.

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

Unveiling the Icons

As final preparations are made to complete the new St Sophia Temple, we wanted to share with you a number of images highlighting the glorious iconography of Dr George Kordis.

The Parish held an official unveiling of the icons ceremony on March 10, 2012.  The highlight was a keynote talk describing the iconographic process, the way it relates to the architecture and their meanings by Dr. Kordis himself. Sure to provide additional insight, here is the text. ICONOGRAPHY SERMON

A brief excerpt:

…Iconography, the narrating of an Orthodox church, is something much more than the decoration of the space…

“I narrate the Church” means in reality that I render with artistic media the experience of the body of the Church for life; it means that I make visible the belief that the Church is the unity of Son of God and man in the person of Christ; that the Church is the unity of all as it is declared in the words of the Divine Liturgy….

…following the byzantine painting tradition, he is to attempt to handle the painted space and time in such a way as to bring as much as is depicted into the liturgical presence of the Church; to give to the beholder the sense that whatever is depicted did not just live in the past and is frozen in another time period, but is alive, and that they live among us in a wonderful unity with us in the body of Christ.

Please enjoy the following images looking at the new Temple and its iconography as it approaches completion.  Stay tuned for more on the upcoming Paschal Thyranoixia on April 7, 2012.

Entry Iron Door with Fresco above

Dr Kordis and his team at the Unveiling being introduced by Fr Peter

Standing at the altar you can get a sense of the expansive space in the new Temple with the iconography crowning the volume. Flooring is being installed

The icon in the Nave starts from the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, goes to St. Matthew the evangelist, to Nativity of Christ, to St. John the theologian, to Baptism, to St. Luke, to Crucifixion  to St. Mark and ends to Anastasis Icon which illustrates the redemption of Human kind from the slavery of death.

From the Mezzanine you can get an up-close view of the iconography.

Dr Kordis and his Assistant reviewing their work

The Pantocrator with his Prophets in the Dome

Installing the floor in the Nave with the Pendentive and Dome iconography visible. Future iconography to fill the entire space.

Detail of the Pantocrator (ruler of all)

Looking to the Soleas and the Apse with the icon of the Theotokos. Kordis finished the column paint as well.

Detail of one of the pendentive spaces

Scenes from the band around the Dome Drum

The New Temple will speak to the Majesty and Presence of the Creator

A Miracle of Transformation in Valley Forge


This gallery contains 15 photos.

Wow! There is a great spirit of excitement and electricity at the Parish of St Sophia in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania a suburb of Philadelphia.  A dedicated Parish of less than 200 families created an authentic Architectural Landmark of True Faith … Continue reading

Transformative And Moving – The Iconography Of Dr George Kordis

The Entry Platea (or plaza) in front of the new Church

Acclaimed by the community as “the most beautiful building” and “A Landmark” in the State Capital of South Carolina, Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Columbia has formally Opened their Doors. This magnificent Orthodox building has a 50’ wide dome and many broad surfaces that we designed to fuse architecture with glorious iconography that reflects the values and traditions of the Faith.

The Nave and its surfaces await the iconography

The Nave and Dome is Symbolic of Heaven on Earth. Icons will reinforce this symbolic relationship.

Now that the Parish has completed the first phase of their Byzantine Iconography program, we can see how this manifests itself. The Parish hired the brilliant Dr. George Kordis, a professor of Iconography at the University of Athens who has mentored a new generation of very gifted iconographers. Dr Kordis, who teaches at the University of Athens and maintains his Studio there, received his Masters in Theology from Holy Cross in Brookline, MA.

Dr. George Kordis giving a demonstration in Romania

Dr Kordis is a very gifted iconographer, artist and theologian who “dialogued and interacted” with the building to create Sacred Space which is of a very spectacular quality and dimension that further enhances and magnifies the Architecture.

The Panocrator

A Glimpse into the dome from outside - Christ dwells in this place

Iconography is an important tradition in the Orthodox church that tells the story of the Faith.  First using sketches in Charcoal on the walls to lay out the whole scheme, Dr. Kordis and his team of 4 assistants then came back in and began painting.  Just a few months after the Thyranoixia / Opening of the Doors and 29 days after the start of work, just after the 4th of July, Kordis and his team have completed the following Byzantine Iconography:

-Dome, including the Pantokrator, Angelic Hosts, Prophets, Window decoration
-Dome Band featuring the Creation of the World
-Evangelists and Annunciation in the four Pendentive Zones
-The Platytera with the Communion of the Apostles in the Apse

George with the Sketch of The Virgin Mary and Christ

Technique of eikonographia
He painted (or wrote) the icons using silicate paints which binds to the gypsum board and creates a strong bond with the substrate that lasts for 100’s of years. The liquid sodium silicate looses water and captures the carbon dioxide and creates silicate salts that bind the colors. This is very similar to the fresco painting technique where lime reacts with carbon dioxide and forms a marble-like layer that protects the colors. Another technique that is used include painting with Acrylic paints on Canvas which is later applied to the surfaces. Why would this matter and how does it relate to the speed of installation and the ultimate result of beautiful icons?

In the words of the artist,

“Acrylics (are) not easy to work with. So usually, this technique force(s) painters to work slower than other techniques (fresco, egg tempera, silicate colors). So that makes a big difference in time frame and, believe me, affects the quality of work. Wall painting is not portable icon. So, as in the past, the execution should be quickly enough in order for the artistic result to have freshness and freedom and to be part of the wall as much as possible. If you work with a technique that makes you go very slowly, that affects the character of the painting. We have information from the past that old icon painters work very fast. Really fast. And that happened because they knew how to work, they knew how to draw and how to handle aesthetic issues. They were masters in technical issues. For example, Theophanis the Cretan the great master of Cretan school of icon painting in 16th century had painted the church, the katholikon of Stavronikita Monastery in Mount Athos in 96 days!!! We know this from the contract published by Manolis Chadjidakis.. And of course the wall paintings are executed al secco with egg tempera and lime water. Many other iconographers used to paint 15-20 sq m per day working with fresco technique.”

The alternative used by Iconographers is the ancient technique of Marouflage where canvases are painted and then glued or nailed into place on the wall and painted out. According to Dr Kordis, it

“prevailed in Greece during the last 2 decades because it is convenient for iconographers who use video projectors to copy old prototypes. They work in their studios and use vinyl or acrylic colors for the rendering of the paintings. We have many evidences and proofs that this technique creates many problems due to the nature of acrylic colors and to humidity. The bonds among the molecules in acrylics are not strong and by over time they are destroyed. So in few years (20-30) the color is fading slowly and is destroyed.”

Beyond the incredible speed of execution (29 days) which allows for the fresh Lyrical and Poetic style, the work is a brilliant theological discussion that enhances the Sacred Space CJK Design created. The fusion of Orthodox architecture and iconography is historically rooted, yet creative and original with beautiful colors and graphic composition that Transforms those who witness it.  The Saints speak to us, the scripture is revealed in new ways and we are connected to Heaven through the icons.

Pendentive in the Nave below Icon of the Creation and the Dome

Iconography of the Dome with Christ in the Center

Detail from the Creation

Please enjoy this YouTube link , a 9 min video telling the story of this work painted on the walls of the Church Temple from July 5th to August 12th 2011.

If you should have a chance for a visit to Columbia, you will find an incredible witness and “Lighthouse” to the Glory of God and the True Faith for the Ages of Ages… Please contact CJK Design if you would like to discuss this topic or any other Sacred Space issues for your Parish.

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!


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

Landmark In State Capital


View from down Main Street

The construction of the new Holy Trinity is moving along with the Prairie Stone now going up.  The solidity & permanence of the stone exterior will remind us all of the lasting nature of the Orthodox Faith.  When the metal roofing is applied to the dome, it will be as a beacon to the people of Columbia.  The team is doing a great job! 


Prairie Stone is working its way up the facade to the dome.
Congratulations to the parish of Holy Trinity in the capital city of Columbia, SC who have broken ground and are moving along towards completion of their new landmark temple that is just down Main Street from the capitol building.  The parish contacted us after prior, unsuccessful attempts to come up with a plan that met their needs while maintaining their budget.

The mantra was 500 seats for $5 million (total cost), and together we were able to meet/ exceed this goal.  In working with CJK Design, the Parish has been able to create a “talk of the town” landmark with more program for less cost.  As we have seen, if your parish is in a position to build, now is a great time to develop your plans and put them into action.  

Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church

 After working closely with the parish leadership, the contractor, the city and many consultants, the gleaming gold dome will soon rise and take its spot along the city skyline.  The site is already being laid out and the footprint is now visible.

Columbia Site

It is our hope that the new temple describes in stone some of the ineffable qualities of the Holy Trinity and stands as a reminder of the greatness of God and the power of faith through Christ. 

Framing the tall windows of the Dome

Look for more on the progress of this exciting project.   


Raising the Dome 6-10-2010

Compare to the image just a few months ago.   The project is coming along and it has been great working with the team.

Thyranoixia a Success

The Metropolitan, Archbishop and the congregation were all in Carmel for Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church’s door opening ceremony (See previous post for more background).  As the architect for this unique temple and support spaces, I was in attendance for the ceremonies.  The whole experience was really gratifying to see this dedicated parish enjoy this special day.

A concert in the Founder's Walk
A concert in the Founder’s Walk

Despite the many economic realities we are all faced with, Holy Trinity has been an example of trusting in the faithfulness of their people and of God. 

Although the future will hold more progress and developments, it is alway important to celebrate sucesses along the way.  Kudos to the Parish. 
More lessons and observations will come in the future, stay tuned…