Anthony Picadio’s loft in downtown Pittsburgh is home to a unique assortment of original art. Modern paintings hang on the walls, sculptures rest peacefully on pedestals and an impressive collection of 19th century weathervanes stand proudly on shelves throughout the 3,700-square-foot abode. But probably the most amazing piece is a screen mounted to the wall of his main living space. Most of the time, the screen is nothing more than a blank canvas. But when Anthony fires up his Canon video projector, the 150-inch screen springs to life.
Beautiful abstract images wash over it, adding color and warmth to the space. “Video art is still kind of new,” Anthony explains. “But if you go to any contemporary exhibition, there’ll be at least three or four installations.”
Making a Masterpiece
The chance to display art in a larger-than-life format is what initially inspired Anthony to stop by Pat’s Stereo Center in Greensburg, PA. He passes by the store frequently on his way to and from work. Procuring a big screen from the shop was no problem. There were plenty of options, but Anthony chose the largest he could get his hands on. The 150-inch Da-Lite screen would need to be paired with a video projector; the store’s general manager, Vince Zaccaria, suggested a Canon LV-7555. “Anthony’s loft has huge windows so the space is extremely bright,” he explains. “The Canon produces 4600 lumens, which means images would look crisp and clear even when the room was filled with sunlight.” The final piece of the video art system—a VCR—came from Anthony. It was a decent enough machine to play the art contained on the few tapes he had recently purchased.
That could have easily been the end of the conversation between Anthony and Vince. But as long as the place was going to have a massive screen installed, why not also use it as a home theater, Vince suggested. Anthony liked the idea. So in addition to the screen and projector, a surround-sound system, an array of speakers and a DVD player were brought in. Vince also hooked up a cable box so that Anthony could watch his favorite TV programs in high-def.
That took care of the main living space. For entertainment in the rest of the loft, Anthony requested a system that could distribute his favorite classic radio stations and CDs to every corner. For this, Vince recommended nothing fancy—just a stereo receiver, a five-disc CD changer and wall-mounted volume controls.
A New Perspective
Selecting the audio/video equipment was the easy part. Installing it inside the renovated loft would take all the creative vision of an artist. Once used as a warehouse, the building was as prepared for technology as a grass hut in the Amazon. Concrete walls, massive floor-to-ceiling windows and exposed steel rafters left few places to flush-mount speakers, affix a big screen and route wiring. Rather than bore into the concrete, a process that would have added months to the installation and jacked up the labor charges considerably, Vince and store owner Rick Tatano decided to simply leave some of the components exposed—a technique that actually complemented the style of the loft. In each room, Vince and installation partner Doug Summy suspended a pair of OWI Soundtrax speakers from the rafters. “You just couldn’t use pendant speakers like these in a normal house,” Vince says. “But in a home like this, they look great.” A handheld remote control lets Anthony turn on the whole-house music system and control it from any room.
Like any high-tech home, Anthony’s abode needed to be wired. Most installers will fish the wire behind the walls to conceal the spaghetti, but that wasn’t an option here. The concrete walls prevented any fishing whatsoever. But rather than leave the wiring completely uncovered, Vince routed it through a network of metal conduit that was strategically placed on the walls and beams to blend in naturally with the industrial feel of the home.
Unfortunately, there were no clever solutions for getting the big screen to fit into the existing structure. There were simply too many windows. To create a blank wall for the screen to rest upon, one window had to be completely covered up with drywall. The three front speakers of the surround-sound system were placed behind the screen, a solution that was simpler than mounting them to concrete and more eye-appealing than leaving them out in the open. The screen is perforated so that the sound from the hidden speakers drifts out into the room unaffected.
Anthony may have envisioned using a big screen and video projector to turn his loft into a living work of art, but the equipment is also getting plenty of use as part of a home theater. Admittedly, the movies this art collector chooses may not be big blockbusters, but the screen makes any type of show that he picks more engaging and dynamic. By adding a system to distribute classical music throughout his home, Anthony has truly created a haven for the arts.
Music floats throughout the wide, open spaces of Anthony’s 3,700-square-foot loft, creating the perfect atmosphere for showing off a fine collection of artwork. Photo by Scott Braman
Technology is alive and well in this room. A simple whole-house music system feeds Anthony’s favorite classic tunes to every corner of the loft. He can control the system from a wall-mounted volume control or a handheld remote. Photo by Scott Braman
Windows can throw even the best home theater system into a tailspin. Before Anthony’s video screen could be installed, one of the loft’s floor-to-ceiling windows had to be completely covered to block out the light and create a space for the screen to hang. Anthony couldn’t part with the rest of the windows. Photo by Scott Braman
Concrete walls prevented speakers, cabling and other electronics from being installed into the walls, but the home systems designers at Pat’s Stereo Center, Greensburg, PA, had a few clever tricks up their sleeves. They routed cabling through metal conduit and suspended speakers from the rafters. These solutions suited the industrial look of the space. Photo by Scott Braman
Canon LV-7555 video projector
Peerless projector mount
Da-Lite 150-inch perforated video screen
Definitive Technology UIW 75 in-wall speakers (3)
Definitive Technology Studio Monitor speakers (2)
Definitive Technology SuperCube II powered subwoofer
Denon AVR-1804 surround-sound receiver
Denon DVD-1910 DVD player
Denon DRA-295 stereo receiver
Denon DCM-280 CD player
Russound SS-4.2 speaker selector
OWI Sountrax 3-way speakers (8)
Electronics Design & Installation
Pat’s Stereo Center
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.