Uber Elevate 2019

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Volary: Our On-Demand Aviation Community

Humphreys & Partners Architects once again defined innovation by unveiling two connected UberAir Skyport concepts during the Uber Elevate 2019 Summit which took place in Washington, D.C.

Chief Innovation Officer Walter Hughes introduced two skyport concepts designed around on-demand urban mobility. The designs, named “Volary,” are envisioned in cities where Uber Air plans to launch including Dallas, Los Angeles, and Melbourne.

This year, Uber called for two schemes to include a parking garage retrofit for the central business district and a greenfield structure to support the outer suburbs.

Less is More

This humble phrase is what drives the basis of Humphreys’ concepts built on the pillars of simplicity, intuitiveness, sustainability, new technologies, and brand awareness.

“If we are strategic and deliberate, we can accomplish so much more with far less. Less material, less carbon footprint, less traffic, and less inconvenience can lead to more innovation, more closeness, and more time to spend on the things we love.” explained Hughes.

Living up to these words, Humphreys isn’t simply creating a new way of travel – it’s cultivating a new way of life through innovation, richer experiences, and more ease for all.


Hughes explains that he was “inspired by man’s long pursuit to fly. For thousands of years we remained on the ground, and only in the last 100 years have we made drastic progress in our aviation journey. Volary pays homage to this passion, as the entire structure is designed to look as if it’s suspended in the air.”

Watch Walter Hughes Speak at Uber Elevate Summit 2019

For thousands of years we remained on the ground, and only in the last 100 years have we made drastic progress in our aviation journey. Volary pays homage to this passion, as the entire structure is designed to look as if it’s suspended in the air. - Walter Hughes

Greenfield Design

For the Greenfield Design, Humphreys created an ethereal 80,000 square feet sky deck which appears to be levitating. Planned for a site in Frisco, TX located about 20 miles north of Dallas, this suburb is one of the fastest growing in the nation and is near a variety of Fortune 500 companies including Cinemark, Toyota North America, and FedEx.

The passenger entrance on ground level anchors the multi-modal transportation systems between the ground and air segments. Facial recognition will help usher people to their flight while adding another layer of security. Many experiences within the terminal include moving sculptures, modern art, and 5G technology which provides real-time flight data and news, allowing for a fully immersive experience. It will also support drop off space for UberX, Jump Bikes and scooters, Uber Eats, Uber Bus, and light rails while acting as the main meeting point that hosts commercial space for shops or restaurants.

The atrium is the heart of the structure. All passengers, whether arriving or departing, interact with the atrium and can enjoy its intuitive components displayed using 5G technology and LED screens. Two elevator shafts will have Smart Glass that shields travelers from the heat during the day while providing real-time data with news, weather, and travel information to help them get to their destination.

The second level is dedicated to Uber fleet and visitor automobile parking. The elevated garage helps reduce noise and relieves cars from being on the street and out of view.  Situated above the garage is the tarmac. As passengers ascend to the flight deck, they are directly connected to their Uber eVTOL as they embark on their next journey.

Retrofit Design

The presented design repurposes a 7-story parking structure, utilizing approximately 70,000 square feet in downtown Dallas. The structure will be reskinned with a façade made up of acoustic panels and articulated kinetic shingles that react to the environment, allowing for more or less sunlight, rain, and wind to filter through based on preprogrammed criteria. At the ground-level we will activate the street with retailers, lobbies and public plazas for added engagement and enjoyment.

Simple wayfinding is at the heart of the Volary design. Both skyports are intuitive by nature and easy to navigate. It will take passengers less than a minute to get from the ground floor to the tarmac, an impressive record for any travel experience.

Both designs have a highly efficient tarmac design layout, consisting of two FATO landings and six eVOTL parking/recharging spaces. In the case of the retrofit, the configuration will adapt to different garage layouts while in the Greenfield solution it can expand for future growth in a modular way.


“As we build for the future, keeping our environment clean and protected is a top priority,” says Hughes. “This is why we incorporated a multitude of sustainable materials, components, and mechanisms.”

Revolutionary materials include self-healing Bioconcrete and kinetic flooring, which generates energy from footsteps. Solar energy is harvested and converted to electricity. Rainwater is collected and recycled for landscape and operations usage. Several noise reducing techniques were incorporated including white noise waterfalls, acoustic reducing materials, and a multilayered glass system that reduces noise by dozens of decibels. Smart glass adjusts to the sun’s rays and blocks 95 percent of the heat.  All natural organic resources equate to a highly sustainable building – lowering the carbon footprint and creating a healthier building and environment.

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. Our goal is to address the greater needs of these cities and take advantage of under-utilized places found in the urban and suburban fabric. Together, we are making on-demand ride-sharing urban mobility an accessible, easy, and intuitive reality for everyone.