New Los Angeles “SkyPark” Concept Revealed at Uber Elevate 2019

Date Posted: 06.12.2019

Uber recently invited a handful of leading national design teams to advance their global vision for a multi-modal future unifying ground and air mobility. With a 2023 commercial launch target, Uber Air Skyport Mobility Hubs will accommodate pedestrians along with aircraft operations (known as electric vertical take-off and landing, or “eVTOL” vehicles), electric bikes and scooters, EV charging infrastructure and connection to public transit.

Unveiled at the Uber Elevate 2019 conference in Washington D.C., our “SkyPark” design concept for Los Angeles focuses on the greater community, incorporating transit connectivity, sustainable performance and neighborhood placemaking with an expansive public amenity at ground level. The design leverages pre-fabricated parts to support eVTOL aircraft take off, landing and turntable parking as well as spaces for multi-modal transit users and more than two acres of community park. The “SkyPark” concept was developed through collaboration across Mithun’s west coast teams, including the new Mithun | Hodgetts + Fung office in Los Angeles.

“Uber SkyPark elevates the urban transportation experience, enriching lives at the personal, neighborhood and community scales. By raising eVTOL functions, the Greenlight Hub, eBike and eScooter maintenance and charging spaces above grade, a new urban park with restorative landscape and active street life is created at the ground level. The park and its trees absorb noise, filter pollution and mitigate urban heat island effect while providing vibrant recreation and social spaces for the community,” said Mithun design partner Jason Steiner.

Los Angeles design partner Craig Hodgetts added, “Uber’s initiatives in this realm are an exciting way forward on so many fronts. Our cities are choking on gridlock and the enormous waste of time and energy it has brought about. Now, with initiatives like UberElevate I can see some profound changes in the way the cities will evolve in the future. These are the first steps in an urban revolution, and we at Mithun are excited to be a part of it.” Craig has been a long-time advocate of visionary transportation planning. In the 1970s he proposed what has become known as the straddle-bus, in the 90s he published designs for a collapsible electric grab-and-go vehicle, and recently completed a two-year in-depth feasibility study advancing the Elon Musk Hyperloop concept.

Watch the SkyPark animation here:

Greenfield Passenger Experience
The SkyPark concept proposes an elevated airfield floating high above a landscaped common, marked by mature trees, varietal plants, and places for “hellos” and “goodbyes.” On the periphery, travelers will be able to return and retrieve fully charged bikes and scooters at suspended carousels before making their way to a centrally located, light-filled lobby providing access to the elevators that will transport them to the flight deck.

The flight deck brings together spectacular views, convenient access and unique technology including autonomous “mules” to deliver the eVTOL’s directly to the lobby doors, where a dedicated platform will provide immediate access to the craft.

Greenfield Response to Context
The elevated nature of our SkyPark concept creates and preserves an urban oasis in a developing context, thus providing a welcome amenity should the surrounding density increase. Pedestrians from the surrounding neighborhood are able to criss-cross the site to various destinations, while on-site vendors and adjacent businesses will enjoy the influx of Uber regulars.

Retrofit Passenger Experience
The SkyPark concept begins on the facade, where a clean, monolithic material folds into an open-air lobby with direct access from the sidewalk. The effect is intended to convey longevity and purpose to passers-by, who will note the polychrome glass surfaces of the carousels where passengers can return and retrieve Jump bikes and scooters.

A compact, secure lobby area grants access to twin, fully transparent cabs that transport arriving and departing passengers to a sky lobby from which they can descend via a curling stair to the flight deck.

Retrofit Response to Context
In order to provide a consistent brand identity, the design elements proposed are simple and scalable, with material choices suggesting permanent, uncompromised construction. With a street presence at once open and emblematic, it is designed as an urban cavity which invites the to and fro arrival of bikes and scooters as well as those arriving by foot and automobile. The elevators are designed to have a minimum impact on the existing parking structure, while offering open views of the surrounding area during their ascent and descent.

Uber tasked eight design teams to create concepts which were fully considered, technically possible and, most of all, provide a gracious passenger experience within the mantle of the Uber brand. The concepts address both greenfield and parking garage retrofit sites, with a 2023 commercial launch target.

Head of Design for Uber Elevate John Badalamenti 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. Architectural minds carry the responsibility to imagine the world in a way that does not exist yet and make it a reality. So this year, we invited innovative architectural firms to imagine how connected Skyport hubs could be integrated into the urban landscape of Los Angeles, Dallas and Melbourne.”