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EXCLUSIVE – Farmingdale Students Help Design South Bronx Juice Bar

SUNY Farmingdale Professor Stevie Famulari (right) works on the plans for Born Juice with student Francisco Umana (photo by Gary Axelbank)

by Gary Axelbank

April 8. 2018

In a unique marriage of a south Bronx juice Bar and a Long Island college, students in the SUNY Farmingdale Department of Urban Horticulture and Design are designing the space at 2500 Third Avenue in Mott Haven that this summer will become Born Juice, a Bronx juice bar with fresh pressed juices, smoothies, vegan bowls, and fast and casual healthy food.

Born Juice owner/creator Henry Obispo (Gary Axelbank)

We think we can create something that you haven’t seen before in the south Bronx,” said Born Juice owner Henry Obispo, who has advocated for Bronx restauranteurs as the President of the United Business Cooperative. “We want a model where you have sustainability, and not just in the food.  Everything will be from local gardens, local farmers and hydroponics, and there will be sustainability in the interior designs, too.”

SUNY Farmingdale Professor Stevie Famulari (Gary Axelbank)

For the development of those design concepts he struck a partnership with Stevie Famulari, an Assistant Professor at Farmingdale whom he had met months ago at an event at the Bronx Museum of the Arts.  Professor Famulari, who is from the Bronx, realized that she had architecture, design, and drafting students who could have an amazing educational experience from this real-world project and began putting fourteen of them to work.

“I’m really psyched that the students are able to come up with ideas that other people won’t come up with,” she told thisistheBronX on a recent visit to her Long Island classroom where the students were developing concepts into specific plans.  “We’ll get different perspectives and some of them have really outrageous ideas of multiple use items like green walls with wood panels, water being not just on the wall, but being sunken into the floor.”

In this Facebook LIVE video meet Professor Stevie Famulari and one of the students who is working on a design.

Even though most of the class has never been to the south Bronx, they have been able to visualize what furniture and facilities might and might not fit in the new space partly because Professor Famulari’s faculty office differs by just feet from the size of the planned Born Juice space.

One Farmingdale student who has been to the Bronx is second semester student Nicole Varrone, who at one time was a Mott Haven yoga instructor.

“I am super excited,” she said. “I feel like the space has so much potential.”

Drafting student Laura Esposito works on Bronx Juice exterior design (Gary Axelbank)

Despite that enthusiasm, the complex agendas to integrate the available outdoor streetscape seating with interior designs, create a unique green oasis in a concrete gray south Bronx environment, and to emphasize life and healthy eating, make for conceptual and architectural challenges.

A student’s interior design for Born Juice (Gary Axelbank)

“I’ve lived in a very tiny apartment myself and so to get greenery into very small walls you have to be crafty about it,” she said.  “You have to go up, you have to go out, and there has to be more than just two or three layers to everything you’re doing.  Above all, it’s very important that you don’t take the community out of your ideas.”

For Obispo, who helped develop the Bronx salad and along with Bronx Health Reach rolled it out to a number of schools, having Born Juice being by, about, and for the Bronx, is vital, especially in as rapidly-changing a community as Mott Haven.

In this Facebook LIVE meet Henry Obispo and hear about his plans for ‘Born Juice’.

“I see myself as the middle person to this new reality of the Bronx where I’m holding the hand of that resident who’s been here and allowing them to have an experience that’s normally not for them.  By targeting them in this wave of change.”

The expectation is that the students will submit their designs and then Professor Famulari will take the best of them and, together with Obispo and his architects, come up with final plans.

For more information  on Born Juice, contact Henry Obispo at:  henry@bornjuice.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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