Architectually Speaking

Follow us as we explore some of the area's unique spaces...


A Perfect Fusion of Art and Home

For Gary and Dianne Zackit is truly all about the art. The couple are probably best known as owners of Pane in the Glass on
Van Dam Street and the iconic Symmetry Gallery, which closed in 2014 after attracting lovers of blown glass, stained glass artwork and multi-media art forms through its doors for nearly 25 years.

The demands of creating their art and running a successful business were big factors in the Zack’s decision to move from their home on Van Dam Street – a 5,000 square foot converted church – to a more tranquil setting about 10 minutes outside of the city, in Greenfield Center.

“We worked on the design of the home for about two years,” said Dianne. “We took the spaces that we used most in our former home and made a sort of puzzle out of them.” Then, fitting the pieces of that puzzle together, they came up with the design and floor plan of their new home.

But it is more than a home. The Zack’s have designed a space that showcases the couple’s fine art collection, amassed across a span of 35 years, while also creating a personal sanctuary, a place of respite, rejuvenation and reinvigoration of the spirit and the senses.

The 4,500 square foot contemporary home stands on five acres of wooded land, invisible from the nearby road and surrounded by birches, alders and firs. The stone exterior, topped off by a brick red metal roof at first seems imposing and impenetrable. But the broad custom-built cherry doors stained in mahogany that adorn the entryway quickly dispel any trepidation.

The main entry hallway is the focal point of the home, with a view of the welcoming living area and fireplace. The Zack’s see their entry hall as the synchronistic center of the home. Standing there, you can look north, south, east and west all at the same time.

To the west are the main living quarters and on the east are the guest rooms. The living, dining and kitchen areas have a southern exposure, creating warmth of passive solar and inviting relaxed conversation around the couple’s expansive wood dining table.

The walls of the home are the repositories of two lifetimes of collected art – glass vases, sculpture, vibrant oils, calming pastels – all drawn together by the deep hues on the central weight-bearing overhead beams, the pale companion walls and the cool bamboo flooring. The curved transoms overhead have a softening effect on the space.

The total effect of colors, textures, shapes and objects both soothe and invigorate. There is an intangible satisfaction that comes from being surrounded by art, beauty and imagination. The clever niches and nooks located throughout the house and carefully illuminated by subtle lighting are continued sources of delight and study.

The Zack’s left nothing to chance in the design and layout of their home, and they spent hours and hours choosing the right textures, colors, lighting and materials throughout their home. While the overall effect is an understated and modest opulence that bespeaks high-priced custom design, in reality, they were very practical in their choices.

Gary Zack, who prefers to be called “Zack,” attributes the smart budgeting during the design and construction to his wife, Dianne. While she is a successful artist in her own right, Dianne is also the titular business head of the family.

“We had a budget and I created a spreadsheet,” said Dianne. The spreadsheet had three columns. The first column was for things they would incorporate if money were no object. The second and third items were for functionality and utilitarian design. In that way, they were able to spend their budget wisely. Of course, the master shower – which includes one exterior wall made of ceiling-to-floor glass that overlooks the outdoors, and radiant heating that runs from the pebbled floor below and travels up the stone walls of the shower – fell into the column of “if money were no object.”

The Zack’s were quick to point out that they really could not have achieved such a marvelous finished product without the help of their architect, Vic Cinquino.

Zack said that, while Cinquino had built his reputation mainly in the commercial arena, he was excited about doing this project.

“We brought our ideas to Vic and he was immediately interested.” Dianne agreed. “When we were going into our first meeting with Vic to see his plans, Zack said to me,

‘Keep a straight face.’ But, I couldn’t! Vic just nailed it!”

But Dianne thought it looked “way over our budget.” However, Cinquino used stock materials and mostly standard sizes, which helped the Zack’s in controlling the costs of building.

Cinquino also made some changes to the Zack’s original plans, which included expanding the screened in outdoor living space (the Zack’s weren’t fully aware of just how bad the bugs can be in the spring and early summer months) and the positioning of the home on the property to give them the benefit of passive solar heat.

The house is also situated close to Snook Creek. In the spring, when the 15-foot wide stream is flowing in full force, the the sound of the roaring water fills the house and completes the serenity of the place.

While the first floor of the Zack’s home is their personal living space, the second floor is devoted to the creation of their art. Dianne is an accomplished designer and creator of glass bead jewelry and her expansive studio, which sits above the three-car garage and has an eastern glass wall exposure, is where she goes to create, meditate and satisfy her artistic nature. Zack also takes advantage of the space, with his easels located at one end of the space. Dianne’s work bench with blow torch and domestic and Venetian glass dominate the far end of the room.

Dianne said that Zack kept wanting to expand the garage, which was fine for her because it meant she would have an even larger studio to work in. She even created a niche for a mini photography studio, where she takes photos of her gorgeous glass bead jewelry designs that she uses to display her products on

Zack, who’s talents include painting, wood and metal work and, of course, glass blowing, designed and built several pieces of furniture in the house, including the wood and metal side table in the living area. He also designed and made the delicate glass fixture that hangs above the dining table. Dianne said that they experimented with string and paper cups to determine how low the pendants should hang from the ceiling to create an artistic effect while not impeding the view to the outdoors that the full- length glass windows provide.

While some may think that living in a home that easily doubles as an art gallery might include tiptoe-ing around, think again. The Zack’s five grandchildren, who range in age from 3 to 14, feel completely at home and comfortable in their surroundings. “We’ve had them riding their bikes up and down the hallway,” laughed Dianne. SS

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