5 Dallas Architecture Firms Unveil Futuristic Uber Skyport Designs
Dallas is one of three cities that will be test markets for the air taxi program planned by Uber Elevate to begin in 2023.
Uber Elevate, the rideshare giant’s air mobility arm, announced its plans in 2017 to launch an aerial shared transportation service called Uber Air. The goal is that by 2023, air taxis will be transporting riders through commercial flight operations in three launch markets: Dallas-Fort Worth, L.A., and Melbourne, Australia. Now, five Dallas architectural firms are among a group of designers unveiling their visions for “skyports”—the future location where the flying Ubers would lift-off.
The Dallas-based firms are Beck Group, BOKA Powell, Corgan, Gensler, and Humphreys & Partners. Their designs were revealed this week at the third annual Uber Elevate Summit in Washington, D.C. In total, eight firms unveiled 16 new concepts for the 2023 Uber Skyport Mobility Hub on Tuesday at the summit.
Dallas-based Hillwood—an early Uber Elevate partner—also attended the summit, NBCDFW.com reported. This week, Hillwood announced its plans to create a Mobility Innovation Zone at its AllianceTexas development, which could be a future place to develop, test, and refine Uber’s advanced mobility technologies.
It’s a market that’s anticipated to be lucrative. “The market for air taxis is expected to grow from $3.4 billion in 2025 to $17.7 billion by 2040, according to Deloitte,” writes Joann Muller for Axios, “and for Uber, which lost $1 billion in its first quarter as a publicly held company, that opportunity is hard to pass up.”
Skyports will be where Uber Elevate passengers will load and unload for intra-metro flights aboard its futuristic air taxis, so Uber invited innovative architectural firms to imagine how these connected hubs could be integrated into the urban landscapes of the three launch metros.
Architects have a responsibility to reimagine the world in ways that don’t exist yet, Uber Elevate Head of Design John Badalamenti said in a statement. “This collection of Skyport Mobility Hub concepts establish a practical, sustainable vision for the infrastructure needed in the communities we plan to serve,” he said. “These designs represent a synergy of purpose, orchestrating a seamless transition between ground transit like Uber POOL and eVTOL aircraft on the roof tarmac—all while contributing to the surrounding neighborhood.”
HUMPHREYS & PARTNERS
Humphreys & Partners Architects said it envisions a skyport that appears as if it’s floating in the air and is designed to support eVTOLs, micromobility, and retail operations. The concept aims for a skyport that’s intuitive by nature and easy to navigate. That means it will take passengers less than a minute to get from the ground floor to the tarmac—”an impressive record for any travel operation,” according to a release.
Uber called for two design schemes: a parking garage retrofit for the central business district and a greenfield structure to support the outer suburbs, the firm said. Humphreys & Partners’ designs, named “Volary,” are envisioned in the metros where Uber Air plans to launch, including Dallas.
For the greenfield design, Humphreys created an “ethereal 80,000 square feet sky deck which appears to be floating” for a site in Frisco. For the retrofit design, Humphreys proposed a site located in downtown Dallas that reuses a 7-story parking structure, taking up approximately 70,000 square feet, The facade, made up of acoustic panels and articulated kinetic shingles that react to the environment will allow sunlight and rain to filter through while adjusting to the flow of the wind.
“Our approach in designing an on-demand aerial ridesharing terminal is based on the idea that ‘less is more,’” Chief Innovation Officer Walter Hughes said in a statement. “This idea has motivated us to create a highly intuitive experience for passengers, integrated within a structure that is simple to build and operate while reinforcing Uber’s brand identity.”
Inclusive of new technologies, facial recognition will add a layer of security in the skyports and Smart Glass will shield travelers from heat during the day, as well as provide real-time data with news, weather, and travel information in two elevator shafts. Experiences within the terminal will include moving sculptures and modern art.
“As we build for the future, keeping our environment clean and protected is a top priority,” says Hughes. The skyports includes “revolutionary materials” such as Bioconcrete that self-heals and kinetic flooring that generates energy from footsteps. In addition, solar energy and rainwater will be harvested and converted to electricity.
“While the primary purpose of Volary is to serve as a transportation hub, Humphreys maximized the opportunity to create a simple, sustainable, and intuitive core that unites communities and creates personal and unique experiences,” the firm noted.
Humphrey & Partners’ Frisco Greenfield Design
Humphreys & Partners’ Dallas Retrofit Design
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