Corporate Aviation

Uber Air 2023 Skyport Mobility Hub Concepts

North Texas

In anticipation of Uber’s rollout of electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) air taxis within the next few years, the transportation firm asked architects to envision two settings for “Uber Skyport Mobility Hubs” for the near future. We first focused on retrofitting an existing parking structure within the urban core, and second, a suburban location that would serve as a mixed-use development with a transit hub, retail, and other uses. Both schemes link ground with air, providing recharge/service fleets of Uber ground vehicles (self-driving cars in the future), JUMP bikes and scooters (also part of the Uber network), as well as operations for Uber Eats ground couriers.

BOKA Powell selected two locations in North Texas: Downtown Dallas and Frisco.

The Downtown Dallas location, near Victory Park, is envisioned as a retrofitted parking garage where the Uber Air components (arrival, passenger holding spaces, and take-off and landing areas) are efficiently added to the existing structure.

Frisco was selected because of the greater availability of land area in addition to catering to real life-needs for people who live in suburbs and commute downtown. The suburban site explored aspirational goals of having the Skyport as a nucleus to an “Uber Village,” with energetic retail at each corner, and an Uber Experience Center where users can learn about the technology.

Watch the full presentation from the 2019 Uber Elevate summit:

The capacity of both “Skyport Mobility Hub” solutions is based on interconnecting Uber brands and meeting specific throughput requirements (provided by Uber as part of their design challenge):

  • Downtown Dallas
    • 2 FATO (Aircraft Landing Areas)
    • 5 eVTOL Aircraft Parking Areas
    • 150 Electric Bikes
    • 150 Electric Scooters
    • 75 Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
  • Frisco
    • 2 FATO (Aircraft Landing Areas)
    • 5 eVTOL Aircraft Parking Areas
    • 200 Electric Bikes
    • 200 Electric Scooters
    • 100 Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
  • On Both:
    • JUMP bike operations center (20,000 SF)
    • Uber Greenlight Hub (10,000 SF)

Design Inspiration and Sustainability

Architects were inspired by a desire to celebrate the joy of human flight and the experience of travel ― the continuum of multi-modal transportation through bold, recognizable architecture emphasizing the concept of “flow” and the process of advanced movement. The designers focused on taking Uber’s legendary ride-sharing technology and layering on the multiple Uber brands to provide seamless connectivity across dense urban areas. Placemaking was a major priority, allowing the surrounding context of each hub to influence the design solution.

Both schemes incorporate a number of sustainable innovations. Photovoltaic fabric emblazoned with the Uber logo that spans the top-level shade structure provides a bold, recognizable architectural gesture that reflects the designers’ concept of “flow.” Other features include panelized pavement that harnesses kinetic energy when passengers walk across the floor, landscaped roofs, and recycled metal mesh.

“The Uber Skyport Mobility Hub as imagined by BOKA Powell Architects celebrates our evolving experience-driven society by designing fluidity and transparency into the process of air travel re-imagined,” said BOKA Powell design principal Andrew Bennett.

“The integration of all Uber brands substantiates first and last mile travel as major support elements to the Uber Air component that revolutionizes urban mobility. The Mobility Hub is not a thing, but rather a place of dynamic energy and integrated connectivity that celebrates the spirit of flight and the freedom to quickly access the important places in one’s life.”

User Experience

Key to the designers’ intent was creating a consistent, stress-free process that allows users to truly experience the joy of human flight. Transparency through the expansive use of glass allows passengers to instantly understand how each building works from the outside. Each design provides a clear view of the entry and exit points, instilling confidence for users visiting a skyport for the first time. Between the urban hub and its suburban counterpart, exterior styling cues and interior spaces are unmistakably related, offering a more familiar, relaxed, and efficient experience. The architecture incorporates warm, clean materials that feel modern but not overly edgy. Uber’s various transportation methods are clearly integrated within each scheme, allowing users to easily move from one to another, inside and outside of the building.

In traditional aviation, the home-to-takeoff process may take two to three hours. With Uber Air, integrated with first and last-mile intermodal options, that process could be 20 to 30 minutes. Passengers’ process of entering the building, rising to the waiting area, and boarding the aircraft is streamlined ― and intentionally unlike a typical airport setup. The Uber smartphone app checks in a user as they arrive. Biometric scanners incorporated into the elevator to allow users to clear a security check. Waiting areas have a decidedly hospitality-inspired feel. Landscaping and green design features, rich wood accents, and natural light connect users to the outside.

Importance to North Texas

With a population of over 7.5 million people and rising, Dallas-Fort Worth is the fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States. An urban air transportation network like Uber Elevate could establish an alternative transit option for commuters and business travelers who need to quickly traverse The Metroplex.