Saint Sarkis Armenian Church by David Hotson Architect

Texas Church Wins US Building of the Year 2022

John Hill
31. January 2023
US Building of the Year 2022: Saint Sarkis Armenian Church, Carrollton (TX) by David Hotson Architect. (Image: World-Architects, photographs by Dror Baldinger)

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 7,000 miles, but 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 Hripsime Church near the Armenian capital of Yerevan and memorializes the genocide in an image of the Armenian “tree of life” composed of exactly 1.5 million circular icons — each one unique, like the lives that were taken over a century ago.

The west facade of Saint Sarkis Armenian Church, where 1.5 million icons depict the Armenian tree of life. (Photo: Dror Baldinger)

As we described the church when it was featured as US Building of the Week on April 25, just two days after its consecration, the design “melds ancient forms and contemporary technologies to express the church's Armenian roots and memorialize the victims of the genocide.” 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. 

Detailed views of the icons on the west facade. (Photos: Dror Baldinger)

The abstraction of Saint Hripsime Church — itself an austere, monolithic mass built entirely of stone — involved matching three main materials on the exterior: precast concrete walls, glass fiber 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-fiber-reinforced gypsum: historically inspired shapes and modern surfaces created with contemporary means.

L: Saint Sarkis Armenian Church (Photo: Dror Baldinger); R: Saint Hripsime Church, 618 AD (Photo courtesy of David Hotson Architect)

On hearing the news that Saint Sarkis Armenian Church was voted US Building of the Year 2022, architect David Hotson sent us these words:

“It is an honor to have the Saint Sarkis Armenian Church receive this acknowledgement, an honor that I share with the full project team and with 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 memorializes 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 honor 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 Nagorno-Karabakh.”

The daytime illumination of the church is enabled entirely by means of indirect light coves that reflect the strong Texas sunlight into the interior. (Photo: Dror Baldinger)

Look for a longer feature on Saint Sarkis Armenian Church — the US Building of the Year 2022 — at a later date. February update: Read our interview with David Hotson.

The US Building of the Year poll on American-Architects was open during the month of January and asked visitors to the website to pick their favorite building from the 40 Buildings of the Week featured in 2022. Saint Sarkis Armenian Church won by a considerable margin, tallying approximately 64% of the roughly 8,500 votes cast. The three runners-up, all with single-digit percentages of votes, are listed below, with links to the respective Buildings of the Week.

Second Place (7.4% of votes): Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business, Clemson (SC) by LMN Architects. (Photo: Mark Herboth Photography)
Third Place (4.2% of votes): First Tech Federal Credit Union, Corporate Office, Hillsboro (OR) by Hacker. (Photo: Jeremy Bittermann)
Fourth Place (3.4% of votes): Calvin & Tina Tyler Hall, Morgan State University, Baltimore (MD) by Teeple Architects and GWWO Architects. (Photo: Nic Lehoux)
Congratulations to the winner and runners-up — and thanks to you, our readers, for voting!
Previous US Building of the Year winners on American-Architects:


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