The drones are here. And if it were up to designers Hadeel Ayed Mohammad, Yifeng Zhao and Chengda Zhu, second place winners of the eVolo 2016 Skyscraper Competition, the small flying robots would get a docking station in Manhattan. The proposed Hive at 432 Park Avenue would be a central terminal where both commercial and personal drones could dock and charge.


The façade of this tower reminds us of a flower with bees buzzing around seeking nectar. Instead of pollen, the various architectural modules would allow safe docking for nine different sized drones which all would feature different landing fixtures. The façade would be “live” or animated in the sense that its horizontal landing platforms would flip out and back in for various drones to dock. The platforms then move vertically to align with the tower, rather than jutting out to the side. The façade would be layered and tinier drones can nest deeper in the structure.


Once you’ve pictured this nonstop beehive-like activity, add these buzzy factors: Each drone landing module would have a battery station that flickers its lights to help the drone navigate and also give occupancy info at any given moment. Not only that, the transparency of this tower would also vary all the time, while the little aerial robots zoom in and out. It boggles the mind. For now, drone use is still very limited by air traffic and no fly regulations, but this will possibly change faster than we think as commerce adopts their convenience, from high-speed delivery to film making, advertising to aerial mapping.  According to the designer’s project description, the Hive would “gather the commercial power of Manhattan” and stand “away from the no-fly-zones set by the FAA.”