Saul Zaik, shot for Oregon Quarterly

The very moment I walked into Portland architect Saul Zaik’s office, he looked across the room to see who was coming in through the door. “How much does a gallon of water weigh?” he asked.

I gave a non-definitive answer. So he rifled through an ancient tome of weights and measures.

At 83, he still handles nagging questions the old-fashioned way. He didn’t tap in a quick Google search on the latest i-gizmo to find the answer. He has a graceful style and work ethic that seem to have always been present.

Being inside the home he designed and built in 1960 is comfortable and peaceful. Big, beautiful windows allow light to flow into the room. And they let my stares drift right back out and into the trees.

After photographs, we stopped for a burger at a little diner and talked about kids, bikes and skiing. This man can not only blur the line between being inside and being outside, but he can jump through time from present day to a past era in the snap of a finger.

Which is about how long it took him to find that chart in his book of measures. And in case you’re wondering, that gallon of water…it weighs about 8.4 pounds.


  1. yes, it would have been nice to be on that burger outing. when you described it on the phone, he sounded sweet. now that i have the face (and moss) to go with the description, i’m in love.

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