Saul Zaik: Keeping Portland modern – Curbed

Certainly one of Portland’s extra prolific midcentury architects, Saul Zaik might be self-deprecating when speaking about his personal work, as soon as describing his profession as experimenting with integrating indoor and out of doors areas and easily “constructing packing containers with a bunch of home windows.”

However the properties’ easy kinds belie a deep connection to the panorama—and Zaik’s position within the evolving college of Pacific Northwest Modernism. When speaking with Portland Modernabout his personal philosophy on designing properties—from angular beachfront condos to timber-lined residences within the Willamette Valley—Zaik referenced childhood recollections of “stacked wire wooden and moist sawdust gas piles” by the easy barns and cabins discovered within the forests and farmland. His work begins by asking easy questions on, and being conscious of, the atmosphere.

“I believe individuals need to be taught a bit extra about how they need to reside in a home,” he said throughout a current interview with Coast Modern. Zaik’s deceptively easy type, discreet designs for many who need to join with the outside, creates ample house for contemplation of that very query. He was a part of a postwar era that needed to vary the concept of structure; he simply did it with a bit extra reserve than most.

The within of Zaik’s personal residence
Brian Libby


Zaik got here into structure via drawing; as a child rising up in Portland, he was entranced by an advert for a 1936 Ford sedan, started sketching, and started exploring artwork and design. He later served in World Warfare II as a naval radio operator within the South Pacific, and after after returning house to the Pacific Northwest, turned his ardour for sketching right into a profession, enrolling within the College of Oregon's college of structure by way of the GI Invoice.

Zaik graduated in 1952, on the daybreak of the midcentury design period, and rapidly discovered work in quite a lot of native corporations, together with a stint at Belluschi, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. In 1955, he began his personal agency, sharing workplace house in an outdated Victorian house on the fringe of city with fellow College of Oregon grads. This gathering of architects—William Fletcher, Donald Blair, John Reese, Frank Blachly, Alex Pierce, and designer George Schwarz—was referred to as the 14th Road Gang. They shared drinks and concepts, and ultimately helped popularize modernist design within the Pacific Northwest.

In 1960, Zaik teamed up with one among his 14th Road buddies, Donald Blair, to kind Blair & Zaik Architects. It lasted till 1966, when Zaik partnered with Jim Miller, forming Zaik/Miller Associates (Zaik went solo once more in 2004, when Miller retired). The bread and butter of his apply was residential design—marked by broad, swooping rooflines that always hid sprawling open-flooring plans inside—however he additionally created condos and resorts for an area developer, John Grey, in addition to a string of native church buildings.

Portland residence exterior
Courtesy Zaik Associates

Buildings to know

Zaik is primarily recognized for residential design, together with the Feldman House and his personal residence. However his finest-recognized mission was constructed round an concept that he readily admits wasn’t his personal. In 1970, shipyard magnate Arnold Zidell requested Zaik to design a house for him within the foothills surrounding Portland.

The design transient was barely eccentric: He needed Zaik to make use of the 67-foot-tall mast of the united statesO'Hara, and bolt the house on like an umbrella. Zaik took the concept and ran with it, and whereas he didn’t ship all the things Zidell needed—a rotating residence proved an excessive amount of—the consequence stands as one of many metropolis’s most properly-recognized designs, a minimalist treehouse with a sunken lounge and expansive nook home windows offering excellent perches to view the town. (You'll be able to see for your self: It’s available to rent on Airbnb). Throughout building, the wooden body resembled a merry-go-spherical.

One other mission that reveals a special angle on Zaik’s architectural imaginative and prescient is the Longhouse Condominiums mission, situated in Salishan, on Oregon’s rocky Pacific shore. Accomplished in 1964 throughout his partnership with Blair, the constructing has an nearly pyramidal design, and was constructed after learning native solar and wind patterns to match the rugged profile of the encircling seashore.

Legacy and repute as we speak

Zaik was and is a vital a part of Portland’s architectural heritage. From resorts and houses to bigger company tasks (he designed an early, unused grasp plan for Nike’s company headquarters), Zaik has at all times been held in excessive regard by his colleagues, and has received quite a few honors from the native and nationwide AIA.

As we speak, consumers and followers of modernism really feel the identical means. Recent tours of Zaik’s designs have helped introduce him to a brand new era of house owners, and his properties command a premium once they make a uncommon look in the marketplace. In 2014, with enter from Zaik, modern Portland designer Jessica Helgerson renovated the Feldman House, a mission profiled in Dwell magazine.

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