If there is one thing Donna and Ben Rosen love, it is modern architecture. So when Ben suffered a stroke and they had to find a way to make their house in Kent, Conn., wheelchair-accessible, one of their highest priorities was ensuring that the building remain just as Charles Gwathmey envisioned it 35 years ago. Gwathmey, who died in 2009, was a prominent modernist architect known for working crisply geometric forms into houses of surprising luxury and drama. His clients included Jerry Seinfeld, Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. The Rosens joined that club when they bought the house—in pristine condition—from its original owners in 2002, the year they married. “We’re stewards of this house,” says Donna, a former gallery owner. “It’s our job to protect it.”
The architect they chose to protect the house, while creating an accessible space for Ben, is Michael Arad, the designer of the stirring memorial fountains at the World Trade Center, a commission he won after beating 5,200 other entrants in a worldwide competition. Since completing the memorial in 2011, he has designed everything from the Fifth Street Farm, a rooftop cultivation “classroom” in lower Manhattan, to the Sven, an apartment building in Long Island City, as a partner at New York’s Handel Architects. And he is the creator of a memorial at the Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, where nine parishioners were murdered in 2015. That project broke ground in July.
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Arad admires Gwathmey’s work, so he was thrilled when Donna asked him to meet with her. Built in 1988, the house