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1.5 million ‘pixels’ adorn new St. Sarkis church in Carrollton. What are they?

A striking feature of Carrollton’s St. Sarkis Armenian Orthodox Church is a grid of 1.5 million unique glyphs, or, as architect David Hotson calls them, pixels.

Elie Akilian, a businessman and congregant at St. Sarkis Armenian Orthodox Church in Carrollton, “didn’t want to build a church that looked like any other church.

“I wanted to take an Armenian architectural language, and then modernize that,” he told Mark Lamster, architecture critic of The Dallas Morning News.

One place that modernization plays out is on the church’s front facade. There, a set of 1.5 million glyphs — “pixels,” the architect calls them — represent the estimated 1.5 million victims of the Armenian genocide.

Each glyph is unique and roughly 1 centimeter in diameter. Up close, they are intricate in design. From afar, their forms and densities crystallize into an abstracted organic pattern.

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Viewed from a distance, the 1.5 million glyphs or "pixels" on the church's facade coalesce into an abstracted pattern.(Dror Baldinger / David Hotson Architect)

“Every time you walk into the church and you see this, you should be reminded that this is something that a lot of people gave their life for,” Akilian said.

Each unique glyph was generated by a computer script developed in architect David Hotson's office.(Dror Baldinger / David Hotson Architect)

The glyphs were generated by a computer script developed in architect David Hotson’s office and printed on UV-resistant porcelain panels made in Italy by the manufacturer Fiandre.

They take inspiration from ornamental motifs on khachkars, traditional Armenian stone memorials. “They’re a symbol of infinity in which the variation is meant to allude to the infinite variety in creation,” Hotson said of the motifs.

Lamster dubbed the church, the centerpiece of a three-building, 4.25-acre complex, “the best new building in Texas.” It is, he wrote, “the most aesthetically remarkable and emotionally moving work of architecture produced in North Texas in a generation.”