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No Place Like This Home

A couple's new house will double as a living laboratory.

Rosemarie Rossetti and her husband, Mark Leder, in the bucket of an excavator during the September groundbreaking ceremony.

While taking a bike ride through Granville, Ohio, during a sunny June day in 1998, Rosemarie Rossetti’s life took a dramatic turn. An 80-foot tree weighing three-and-a-half tons fell on her, injuring her spinal cord and leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. She credits Ohio State’s Dodd Hall and a positive attitude with helping her along the road to recovery.

A professional speaker, trainer, consultant, author, and former Ohio State faculty member, Rossetti was eager to resume her life personally and professionally. However, she and her husband, Mark Leder, soon discovered that nearly everything in their home was out of her reach. Many rooms and spaces—including a basement home office—were completely off limits.

Together, the couple embarked on a journey to find a house that would meet their needs. After a variety of frustrations with existing houses and home designs, they went back to the drawing board to construct their own home. The result: a 3,500-square-foot ranch-style home built on one-and-a-half acres in Jefferson Township, Ohio, that serves as both a residence and Universal Design Living Laboratory.

“I want the house to be a catalyst for change in the building industry for those with disabilities and those who are simply elderly,” said Rossetti, who earned a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctorate from Ohio State. She and Mark want the home’s stellar points—unobtrusive universal design, green building methods, advanced automation technology, and chemical-free materials—to become more mainstream.

To make the project possible, more than 120 international, national, and local corporations and organizations contributed products and services. By opening their doors to the building and design industries and the general public, the couple shows how these elements can be included in new homes and remodeling projects.

Rossetti wanted to thank Ohio State for playing a major role in her life and especially her recovery. In 2001, she established the Rosemarie Rossetti Spinal Cord Injury Research Fund to help advance the cure for spinal cord injuries, including projects that focus on restoring walking ability. All tour fees for the couple’s home will benefit this fund.

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