Saint Sarkis Armenian Church, located in the north Dallas suburb of Carrollton, has received the most votes in the “US Building of the Year 2022” poll. Designed by architect David Hotson, the church reaches far back in time and thousands of kilometres across the globe to link itself with Armenian traditions and people.
Saint Sarkis Armenian Church was consecrated on April 23, 2022, and held its first Sunday service one day later, on April 24, the traditional day for commemorating the 1.5 million victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. The small church — small especially in comparison to the megachurches littering the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex — is far from Armenia, about 11,000 kilometres. Still, some members of the church’s growing congregation are descended from the Armenians who fled their home country after World War I.
The importance of history and tradition in the Armenian Orthodox Church extends to the design of Saint Sarkis Armenian Church, which derives its form from the 7th-century Saint Hripsimé Church near the Armenian capital of Yerevan, in the city of Vagharshapat, the Mother See of Holy Echmiadzin. It memorialises the Genocide in an image of the Armenian “tree of life”, composed of precisely 1.5 million circular icons — each unique, like the lives taken over a century ago.
The image on the west facade, seen above, was printed by the Italian company Fiandre in high resolution on UV-resistant porcelain panels. Furthermore, a Grasshopper script guaranteed each icon was unique, and their distribution resulted in a legible overall image.
The abstraction of Saint Hripsime Church — an austere, monolithic mass built entirely of stone — involved matching three primary materials on the exterior: precast concrete walls, glass fibre reinforced concrete light coves, and standing seam zinc roofing. Inside, references to the stone dome and vaults of the 7th-century church are rendered as double-curved plaster vaults made with glass-fibre-reinforced gypsum: historically inspired shapes and modern surfaces created with contemporary means.
On hearing the news that Saint Sarkis Armenian Church was voted US Building of the Year 2022, architect David Hotson sent his words:
“It is an honour to have the Saint Sarkis Armenian Church receive this acknowledgement, an honour that I share with the full project team and all of those who voted for the project, most especially those throughout the Armenian Diaspora for whom this building has a special significance. The Saint Sarkis Church reaches back fourteen centuries to connect with the architecture of the world’s most ancient Christian nation, even as it brings a contemporary spatial sensibility and progressive construction technology to a suite of buildings overlooking the vast Texas plain. The western facade of Saint Sarkis memorialises each of the 1.5 million victims of the 1915 Armenian genocide, an event that forced the ancestors of many members of the congregation from their ancient homeland. It is my hope that the visibility the church receives from this honour will help raise awareness in America of the history of the world’s most ancient Christian nation and of the persecution of Armenian Christians that is still happening today in Artsakh”.