UberAIR announced 6 different architecture firms’ concepts at the Uber Elevate Summit on Wednesday.

Gannett Fleming’s concept, called SKYPORT by Gannett Fleming, features modular components, each called”The PAW”, that allow scalability. SKYPORT by Gannett Fleming was featured prominently during the Summit, and for good reason. The video below provides a fairly comprehensive overview of the SkyPort, including some of its unique features that make it particularly attractive among other options presented at the Summit.

The PAW concept targets 24 second intervals of eVTOL’s taking off and landing for a pad of this size, coordinating the loading and unloading processes by using three outer landing sites per large “lily”. The concept should be able to handle 1000 takeoff/landing cycles per hour.

Brian Smith, VP of Gannett Fleming, commented on the goal of the Skyport design and emphasized that the results were testament to the level of interdisciplinary efforts that merged to create a design better than any one discipline could have hoped for.

Gannett Fleming leveraged policymakers, conventional architectural know-how, and additional aerospace consulting to develop the Skyport. This aerospace consulting was an interesting add for the firm – it helped Gannett Fleming design diffusers that deflect rotorwash from arriving and departing eVTOL’s and also reduce the noise level in congested urban areas. Additionally, this extra aerospace research identified the correct gap ratio for the diffusers that yields a simple, elegant, and most importantly functional design.

Another unique aspect of the design was the modular landing pads, each called “The PAW”. Here are a few of PAW’s features from Gannett Fleming’s website:

  • PAW features a scalable design for a single, double, triple, or quad configuration to meet transportation demands, site requirements, and FAA clearance regulations
  • PAW is optimized for vertical takeoff and landing, charging, and passenger loading
  • PAW has a through-put capacity of 52 eVTOLS per hour, which is enhanced by a wire guided robot that captures the front landing gear of the eVTOL, lifts the gear inches off the tarmac, and rotates the vehicle 180 degrees to position it to taxi for immediate take-off.

According to the firm, the SKYPORT concept can accommodate 208 vehicle operations per hour with a quad-paw arrangement and would require 1.3 acres of land.

By 2028, SKYPORT could be scaled to “handle 600 arrivals or departures per hour moving 4,000 people every 60 minutes”. This scaled SKYPORT

  • Offers a transition point with ground-based public transportation as well as retail and restaurant amenities
  • Features intuitive wayfinding capabilities, including wall-mounted video screens, kiosks, color-coded elevators and signage, as well as an interactive connectivity with an Uber app on hand-held devices
  • Uses illuminated walkways that lead passengers quickly and safely to the appropriate eVTOL
  • Includes sustainability features such as photovoltaic receptors and transparent concrete to enable solar recharging as well as sound walls with acoustic baffles to let the wind pass through and minimize noise impacts
  • Provides a storage and recharging site for Uber’s autonomous vehicles and eVTOLs.

Why it’s important: Gannett Fleming’s concept is but one of six finalists for the UberAIR SkyPort challenge, but represents a huge leap forward in original applications of architecture principles with multi-disciplinary constraints. The coordination and collaboration between all respective disciplines is opening up new design approaches and considerations that have the potential to spill over into everyday design as well.


  • Gannett Fleming

Posted by Naish Gaubatz

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