December 27, 537 AD: Aghia Sophia – Its History, Architecture and Cultural Contributions


Tuesday, December 13, 2016 at 6:00 PM
Location: 3 West Club, NYC

“Solomon, I have Surpassed thee!” – Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Iustinianus Augustus (AKA Justinian I), upon first entering and seeing his completed patriarchal cathedral.

Join EMBCA,  for a stimulating panel discussion commemorating the dedication of Emperor Justinian I’s grand edifice, that over time has been Patriarchal Cathedral, Mosque and Museum. Aghia Sophia more than any other surviving building from late antiquity, symbolizes the crossing and meeting of cultures, religions, civilizations and regional hegemons.  1,500 years after its dedication, it continues to be a contested reference point and emblem of the history of the Eastern Mediterranean.

Introduction by Louis Katsos, President EMBCA

Louis Katsos has over 40 years of major project experience in the Real Estate and Construction Management market. He is a known and recognized leader in the development, design and construction industry, with over 35 years of executive corporate experience with major national New York Construction Management and General Contracting firms, like Tishman Construction where he was the E.V.P./COO, as well as being President of his own firm Jekmar Associates Inc., a construction/ development consulting firm to New York Developers and Owners. Jekmar Associates Inc. is currently involved in numerous residential, mixed use and hotel projects of over 2.5 million square feet. As Project Manager / Executive he has built, ground up, over 10 million square feet of various high rise building types, Institutional and landmark buildings in New York and had corporate oversight of millions more. He is also a Member and Executive Managing Director of the New York Immigration Fund which raises EB-5 foreign investment funds for various New York City development projects currently being built.

Lou is the President / Founder of EMBCA, Inc. (East Mediterranean Business Culture Alliance); Executive Board Member of The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce, Chair of its International Relations Committee and Co- Chair of the Development and Construction Committee; President of the American Hellenic Institute New York Business Network; Board Member and former EVP of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce and Chairman of its Development, Design and Construction Committee, AHEPA District 6 (New York) Director of Hellenism and V.P. of Manhattan AHEPA Delphi Chapter 25.

A noted educator and lecturer Lou has taught for over 30 years combined as an Adjunct Assit. Professor both at New York University and at the Chanin School of Architecture at Cooper Union. He moderates the highly popular NY Development, Design and Construction Panel Series. He holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Civil Engineering and an M.B.A., both from New York University.


John Fotiadis, Vice President EMBCA  (Panel Moderator)

John Fotiadis is an Architect who has worked nationally and internationally in the profession of Architecture for over 25 years. He is the Principal and Founder of John Fotiadis Architect PLLC (“JFA”), a multi-disciplinary design firm located in New York City ( Over the course of his career, both at JFA and previous firms, John has led the design of high profile projects in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, including residential, commercial and mixed-use buildings and master plans in cities as varied as Ankara, Batumi, Baku, Doha, Donetsk, Dubai, Istanbul, Kiev, Moscow, New York, Seoul and Tbilisi.

John’s extensive and immersive travels have fueled his combined passions of architectural history and geopolitics. Istanbul in particular has been both a frequent transit point and destination for John over the course of his career. Numerous visits to Istanbul have afforded him a unique and intimate knowledge of Aghia Sophia, as well as other surviving Byzantine buildings and monuments which still stand in the city today.

John graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture (cum laude) from Temple University in 1989. He also has a Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University (1991). John is Vice President / Founder of EMBCA, Inc. (East Mediterranean Business Culture Alliance). in addition to being an architect, John is an accomplished musician and composer, and has composed and recorded original music for film, TV and Internet podcasts. 

Alexander Billinis

Alexander Billinis earned his undergraduate degree in Western and Eastern European Studies at Georgetown University in 1991. He later earned advanced degrees in international management and law. His career has included international banking, commercial real estate, law, and journalism. An author of two books, “The Eagle has Two Faces: Journeys through Byzantine Europe” and “Hidden Mosaics: An Aegean Tale,” Billinis has lived and worked in Chile, Greece, Bulgaria, the UK, and Serbia. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two children.

Constantine “Dean” Sirigos

Constantine Sirigos is a journalist and commentator on international affairs. He was Senior Writer and interim Executive Editor at The National Herald for seven years and was the Legislative Assistant of the American Hellenic Institute (AHI) for almost five years. He is currently the Director of Outreach and Development for the American Community Schools – Athens (ACS) and Special Projects writer for the Department of Communication and contributor to the Orthodox Observer. He earned a BA in political science at Hofstra University and a Master’s in international relations at Georgetown University. After his university days he devoted himself to the study of Aghia Sophia.

Billy Chrissochos

Billy Chrissochos is a licensed Real Estate Salesperson with Keller Williams Realty. He specializes in residential and new commercial development. He has served as Assistant Manager in Marathon Bank and various other financial institutions. He has been a NYC educator and is currently a lecturer. His love for Alexander the Great and Byzantium saw him travel extensively through Greece, Serbia, Russia and Turkey. He now books select historical tours and yacht cruises to Greece. He has a B.A. in Political Science/History and Minor in Education from Queens College.

Billy is the primary composer, historical consultant and producer of “Porphyra, A Grecian Rock Opera” which debuted at Carnegie Hall and Off Broadway. Set in the year 988AD, the Heroic Age of Basil II Emperor of Byzantium, the story chronicles Princess Anna Porphyrogenita and her marriage to Grand Prince Vladimir of the Kievan Rus: Visit

Billy is Director of Modern Music in NY for UNESCO and an awarded music video editor. He is a member of ASCAP and AHEPA’s Manhattan Delphi 25 Chapter. He founded the Greek Artists Guild, the Hellenic American Center of the Arts and the Alexander the Great Living History Society.

In association with American Hellenic Institute (AHI) New York Business Network, AHEPA Delphi Chapter 25 and the Club for UNESCO of Piraeus & Islands.


Please RSVP by reserving your tickets below. Suggested admission fee: $20.
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