Life on Rock Row
The Wronske brothers build sizeable, sustainable homes that people can afford
By Joanna Beresford 12/24/2008
A “Rock Row” sounds like a musical event for Scooby Doo, but it’s something even retter … I mean, better. It’s a new housing development in the quirky, groovy and tree-lined neighborhood of Eagle Rock. The project is the first small lot subdivision in the city of Los Angeles to be LEED certified, and according to the Wronske brothers, it’s the first smart, affordable, attractive opportunity for home ownership in the area.
Kevin and Hardy Wronske founded the Heyday Partnership, a develop-design-build team, in 2001. Since then, they’ve completed single-family homes and multi-residential projects in Lincoln Heights, Echo Park and Glassell Park. But they’ve built a lot of other stuff too, way before they even lived in California.
“We’ve been building together since we were 4 years old,” says Kevin. “We started with Tinker Toys, then we moved up to Legos, then tree houses and cars. Now we’re working on these 15 green homes in Eagle Rock.”
The homes vary in size, but they’re all sleek and contemporary in design. They feature lots of lovely balconies and patios, sustainable water and lighting systems and some cool amenities, like stainless steel appliances and Euro Craft cabinetry in gourmet kitchens, solid core doors and recessed lighting, and really radical-sounding things like “sustainable strand woven bamboo floors” and “central A/C with ultra-high 14 seasonal Energy Efficient Ratio.”
You can buy a Rock Row home for somewhere between $475,000 and $550,000. If you were John Steinbeck in 1930, who wrote a novel while living in a $15-dollar-a-month house in Eagle Rock, half-a-million bucks would sound like a lot of money. But if you’re reading this column today, somewhere in that magical week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve of 2008, you know that for 500 grand you might expect the new home to, perhaps, fit in your Christmas stocking.
The Wronske brothers set
out to build slick, sizeable, sustainable homes and sell them at
reasonable prices. They succeed because of lessons learned while
trimming hedges and building tree houses 20 years ago in the Florida
“We worked for our dad doing landscaping every summer, from about the time we were 10,” Hardy says. “We really learned a work ethic from our parents, and we learned how to work together.”
Between them, the brothers have a massive amount of degrees and credentials. They’ve worked practically all over the world for private companies and Habitat for Humanity. Together they fill the roles of architect, developer and builder, and the continuity of their efforts results in an efficient business model of vertical integration, which Kevin claims is just a “fancy way of saying you do everything.”
“Obviously this model is an easier one for us to do because we’re brothers,” Hardy says. “But it’s a great way to build in the city and keep prices down, quality high.”
They share the same goals. They want to build with respect for homeowner and environment. They like to start simple and respectfully push the boundaries of convention.
“That’s the reason we come to work; to try to get as much good architecture and as much green design out there as possible and make LA a better city,” said one of the brothers. I don’t actually know which one, because we were talking by phone at the time and they really becomeoneperson when describing their work.
They named their partnership Heyday because the term evokes nostalgia.
often used to talk about cities in the past, to refer to the good old
days, times that just don’t exist anymore. But we wanted to say; why
does ‘the heyday’ have to be in the past? We want to be building a
future that will be the good old days.”
I don’t know who said that either, but it sounds like an apt prescription for a new year.
Contact Joanna Dehn Beresford at email@example.com.