Krikor Balyan (Krikor Amira Balyan), born in 1764, was the first member of the family to use the surname Balyan. He was called Baliyan or Balyan after his grandfather and later adopted this as the family name Balyan. He was the son-in-law of Mason Minas and father-in-law of Ohannes Amira Severyan, both of whom were palace architects.
Krikor received his credential of architecture from Sultan Abdul Hamid I (1774–1787). He became unofficial advisor to Sultan Selim III (1789–1807), and was close to Sultan Mahmud II(1808–1839). Krikor’s attitude of impartiality and willingness for negotiation caused foreigners to respect him during their visits to the sultan’s palace.
He was exiled in 1820 to Kayseri in central Anatolia, because of his involvement in a dispute between Gregorian and Catholic Armenians. He was pardoned and allowed to return to Constantinople shortly after a friend of his in the palace, Amira Bezjian, presented delicious Turkish ham from Kayseri to the sultan.
Krikor died in 1831 after serving the empire during the reigns of four sultans, Abdul Hamid I (1774–1787), Selim III (1789–1807), Mustafa IV (1807–1808)), and Mahmud II (1808–1839). His young and inexperienced son Garabet Amira succeeded him.
Krikor’s major works:
- Sarayburnu Palace (burned 1875)
- Beşiktaş Palace
- Çırağan Palace (burned by Janissaries)
- Arnavutköy Valide Sultan Palace
- Defterdar Sultan Palace
- Aynalıkavak Pavilion
- Tophane Nusretiye Mosque (1823–1826)
- Selimiye Barracks (1800, burnt 1806)
- Davutpaşa Barracks (1826–1827)
- Beyoğlu Barracks
- Istanbul Mint
- Valide Dam
- Topuzlu Dam
- Fire Kiosk