2022 Grants Challenge

“Roger, LA”: Design Charrette Toolkit for Developing LA’s Future Vertiports

Idea by HOK

Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) is being called the third revolution in aviation and the single largest industry to emerge of this generation, and LA will be one of the first cities to pioneer it. However, before AAM can reach its potential, it must contend with public acceptance and the integration of new ground infrastructure (eg, vertiports) into LA’s diverse communities. We propose a design charrette toolkit to help AAM stakeholders and community members co-develop this new infrastructure in a meaningful, productive, and repeatable process.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Public Transit

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

County of Los Angeles

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Research (initial work to identify and understand the problem)

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

AAM has been called the single largest industry to emerge of this generation and is expected to be valued at over $1 trillion globally by 2040 (Morgan Stanley). NASA estimates there will be 100-300 vertiports in every major US Metro area by 2030. In other words, vertiports will be developed in places and communities that, until now, did not have to contend with aviation infrastructure. Development efforts will most certainly contend with NIMBYism and the myriad needs and wants of each community. Furthermore, the prospect of developing dozens, if not hundreds, of micro-airports simultaneously within LA is unprecedented. While AAM offers tremendous social, economic, and environmental benefits, it stands to reason that before AAM can reach its potential, the industry needs a systematic way to manage public and community acceptance at scale (ie, multiple simultaneous developments). One such process is the design charrette, which we plan to adapt specifically to AAM in LA.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

This proposal is to develop an AAM Design Charrette Toolkit to facilitate discussions, implementation plans, and development agreements between city officials, community members, and AAM industry partners. Design charrettes are commonly used in the planning and development process, and we believe it is the most appropriate solution to the problem. However, the scale and impact of AAM warrants a standardized, AAM-specific process, much like the guidance provided by the Department of Transportation for EV charging infrastructure. Our effort will be divided into two phases: research and documentation. The research phase will involve meeting with the above stakeholders, collecting feedback (eg, needs and desired outcomes) on the development of AAM infrastructure, and identifying areas of discourse for a charrette program. Focus will be placed on answering this question for each stakeholder: “What information do I need or want to proceed with this development?” This will enable the design charrette program to be structured to manage this information in the most effective manner. The documentation phase will involve the preparation of charrette materials including educational information about AAM, typical agendas, design checklists, vignettes and info-graphics, mood boards, and KPI’s, etc. This material will be reviewed with key stakeholders and compiled into a comprehensive and interactive Toolkit that will be available online to all AAM stakeholders.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

In the short term, we hope to create a tool that the greater LA community will use to advance awareness and acceptance for AAM in the most productive way possible. Part of the motivation of this proposal is to apply lessons learned from the deployment of other mobility technologies (eg, ride-sharing, e-scooters). By creating a framework for public-private collaboration, we can help LA avoid early setbacks and move faster to enjoying the benefits this industry offers. In the long term, we hope this toolkit becomes a model for other cities to follow, both nationally and internationally. As AAM industry partners and federal and state authorities (eg, FAA) work to advance AAM aircraft technology, operations, and regulations, we can advance public acceptance and ground infrastructure locally by developing a framework for collaboration.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

Our metric for success is whether or not AAM stakeholders, primarily city officials, use the Design Charrette Toolkit. Toward this end, we propose to make the design charrette toolkit an online tool / website. This would allow the toolkit to have wider distribution, be always up-to-date, and enable better metrics such as tracking downloads or usage in general. During our research phase, we work with regulatory agencies to see if a standardized form of some kind would make sense to feed into development agreements (eg, capturing community feedback on preferred air service routes from their local vertiport). As Public-Private Partnerships (PPP or P3) is a logical delivery method for vertiports, the feedback garnered from a design charrette process could be captured in part to inform future development agreements. Ultimately, the exact methods to encourage use of this toolkit will be informed by the feedback from stakeholders.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 50

Indirect Impact: 15,000