Great Places: Moore Square

Last updated Jul. 29, 2015 - 3:01 pm
  • *First-Place Winner - Chris Counts Studio, Charlottesville, VAFirst-Place Winner - Chris Counts Studio, Charlottesville, VA
  • *Second-Place Winner - Larry Zucchino, ASLA, JDavis Architects, Raleigh, NCSecond-Place Winner - Larry Zucchino, ASLA, JDavis Architects, Raleigh, NC
  • *Third-Place Winner - Stephen Stimson Associates, Falmouth, MAThird-Place Winner - Stephen Stimson Associates, Falmouth, MA
  • *Honorable Mention - Samuel Reynolds, President/Owner, Reynolds & JewelHonorable Mention - Samuel Reynolds, President/Owner, Reynolds & Jewel
  • *Honorable Mention - Vincent Petrarca, Partner, Tonic DesignHonorable Mention - Vincent Petrarca, Partner, Tonic Design
  • *Honorable Mention -  Eric Davis, Principal, Lappas & HavenerHonorable Mention - Eric Davis, Principal, Lappas & Havener
  • *Honorable Mention -  Roger Lynn Spears, Senior Design Architect, Szostak Design, Inc.Honorable Mention - Roger Lynn Spears, Senior Design Architect, Szostak Design, Inc.
  • *Honorable Mention -  Davin Hong, Senior Design Architect, KlingStubbinsHonorable Mention - Davin Hong, Senior Design Architect, KlingStubbins

Moore Square Design Competition

First-Place Winner - Chris Counts Studio, Charlottesville, VA
Team: Jenny Mikulski, Mike Smith

This design concept for Moore Square builds upon its most unique and significant characteristics, but expands its spatial, experiential, and programmatic range by introducing a gentle landform. The landform feature energizes and organizes the site into visually and functionally distinct spaces that accommodate a wider range of uses than the Square offers today. The Square becomes multidimensional, offering prospect, large expanses of open lawn, and places for refuge and recreation.

The original entry paths are retained to minimize root disturbance, and planters are removed to deepen views. Existing path materials are recycled in the pavement pattern of an exciting and flexible new plaza that can host both grand and impromptu performances. An adventure playground is embedded in the landform, and the gentle northern slope becomes an amphitheatre, or simply a place to sunbathe and people watch. Sustainable practices such as collecting stormwater in rain gardens, and enriching habitat in the interpreted natural area ensure this design benefits the ecosystem and establishes a contemplative zone for reading and birdwatching.

Second-Place Winner - Larry Zucchino, ASLA, JDavis Architects, Raleigh, NC
Team: Marty Linn, ASLA; David Brown, ASLA, Sawako Bush, Pongsak Denpattanapitak

This design concept maintains the Square's historic form by enhancing historic pedestrian circulation patterns while maintaining a strong cross-Square flow. Social interaction for all citizens is provided through new activities and functions. The design concept is a classical solution that respects historic pathways and responds to Raleigh as it is today. The sense of entry to the Square is very inviting. The wide promenade makes the Square accessible, walkable, warm, and friendly. The design improves function with wider walkways, a flexible multi-use central area, a permanent small performance venue, and refreshment pavilions with restrooms and kiosks. Environmental sustainability is incorporated through tree conservation, native tree replanting, permeable pavements, local materials, storm water cistern, and LED lighting. Economic vitality is tied directly to creating a successful and attractive Downtown destination for adjacent businesses. Historic neighborhoods are strongly linked through incorporation of desired uses and history plaques.

Third-Place Winner - Stephen Stimson Associates, Falmouth, MA
Team: Steve Stimson, Eddie Marshall, Tom Lee, Mascha Hranjec, Jen Exner, Cullen Meves, Chris Buccino

This design concept is simple, clean, and flexible. It seeks to reaffirm the Square's historic identity of great oaks and common ground. The design provides a dramatic look towards City Market along a promenade connecting the north and south sides of the Square. The design creates rooms that blur the edges of the Square. Active and passive zones transition nicely to the great lawn.

Honorable Mentions
The honorable mention submissions respect historic use and experience. Each honors the life of open space and creates a wonderful civic destination.

Samuel Reynolds, President/Owner, Reynolds & Jewel
The design relates well to Blount and Person streets. The heritage walk and great lawn work well for all ages.

Vincent Petrarca, Partner
Tonic Design
Team: Mike Cindric, Design Dimension
David Swanson, ASLA, Swanson & Associates
David Hill, AIA, NCSU
The garden rooms, drought resistant vegetation, and seating arrangement works well. Historic integrity is preserved in the walkways.

Eric Davis, Principal, Lappas & Havener
Team: Ed Dwight, Sculptor Studio
Walt Havener, Lappas & Havener
Fern & Sterling; Frank Harmon Architect
All four corners of the Square are very inviting, especially the emphasis on the southeast corner. The design highlights history in tile arrangements in the pathways.

Roger Lynn Spears, Senior Design Architect, Szostak Design, Inc.
The design concept illustrates civic elegance. The idea is simple, yet innovative.

Davin Hong, Senior Design Architect, KlingStubbins
The cross access in this design highlights historic pathways with good pedestrian weaving along the promenade. The bioretention area is up front and visible.

View all the other design competition submissions and the Community Open Call site plan results on Flickr. Check out Moore Square videos on YouTube.


Design Competition Overview
The Competition was an opportunity for the design community to engage in the momentum taking place in Raleigh. Design criteria addressed the City's goals to advance diversity, enhance connection between Downtown and surrounding communities, and encourage more environmental/sustainable development solutions.

Design Competition Rationale
Moore Square is a historic, signature destination in Raleigh. It hosts a range of high-profile events with a citywide and regional draw including Downtown Live concerts, Farmers Market, Artsplosure, SparkCon, World Beer Festival, area school activities, and summer movies, to mention a few. Moore Square was not designed as a large event venue, and increasingly heavy use has created significant maintenance issues and compromised the attractiveness of the Square for citizens, workers, and visitors. During the upcoming year, many of the current events may move to other new public spaces in Downtown Raleigh (including City Plaza and, later, the Festival site west of the Raleigh Convention Center).

The Departments of City Planning and Parks and Recreation, working with the State and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance sought through the Competition to understand and balance how Moore Square will be developed and programmed within the context of new public event spaces opening across Downtown.

Competition Objectives
The Competition involved an Open Call for Ideas that informed the application criteria. The City, through the Competition, hopes to:

Create a unique public space and urban experience for the 21st century;
Engage broad public participation throughout the process and in the future; and
Establish the conditions to develop a sustainable economic development strategy for the Moore Square area.

Community Open Call for Ideas
The Open Call for Ideas June 17 (Marbles Kids Museum) and June 27, 2009 (Chavis Community Center) kicked off the creative process of soliciting site and programming ideas for Moore Square. City-wide public participation was encouraged among all who are vested in the Square: residents, CACs, environmental groups, Downtown Raleigh Alliance membership, Moore Square area property owners and businesses, local schools and universities, and neighborhood and parks advocates. The Open Call for Ideas was an opportunity for the public to contribute their big - and not so big - ideas for the Square. Ideas evolved from resident and visitor memories, current user experiences, and community conversations throughout the city about the Square's significant history and its future as a destination.

History of Moore Square

The Raleigh Historic Districts Commission (RHDC) is funding a report on Moore Square's physical and cultural landscape. The report will provide a historical context for participants in the Moore Square Design Public Process Open Call for Ideas and Juried Conceptual Design Competition. To document the history of Moore Square, the report will use the palimpsest method, which identifies periods of a landscape's life by creating maps that can be viewed either stand-alone by period, or overlaid to show all periods.

The initial rough draft report is under review by the RHDC's Research Committee and is scheduled for acceptance by the Commission at its May 19 meeting; it is also to be reviewed by State of North Carolina (owner of Moore Square) prior to release. The report will document the following periods:

1792-1812: Origin

  • Began with William Christmas plan in 1792
  • Square named after Alfred E. Moore, State Attorney General (1782 - 1791)
  • Residential in nature for its first 100 years
  • Square used as a gathering space covered with oaks and crisscrossing informal paths

1812-1866: Institutional

  • Nicknamed "Baptist Grove" due to location of church with integrated congregation on Square; Episcopalian congregation also utilized "Christian Chapel"
  • African-American members of Baptist Grove Church moved structure off Square, with the condition that it always be used for worship by African Americans
  • Establishment of Eastern Ward School; anyone with funds for books invited to attend; later became the NC Literary, Scientific, and Military Academy, which performed military drills on Square
  • First presence of buildings on Square

1866-1914: Transitional

  • Union African-American soldiers utilized Square for sleeping quarters for 5 years
  • Square used as temporary farmers market
  • Formal design with cross and diagonal walks implemented
  • Commercial district along Hargett and Wilmington streets expanded toward areas adjacent to Square
  • Property adjacent to Square became residential and commercial in nature
  • Square became city's most popular park

1914-1964: Commercial

  • Harrison Library established itself as a central feature in local African-American culture, serving as a repository of African-American history and culture, and promoting African-American literature and music
  • African-American owned businesses on "Black Main Street" stretched along Hargett toward Moore Square
  • City Market located adjacent to Square; historically significant as an integrated space
  • Impromptu paths linking surrounding uses appeared, with decline of formal cross form
  • Decline of Moore Square began with rise of suburbanization

1964-2009: Communal

  • Efforts to revitalize the city began, which included festivals held in Moore Square beginning in the 1970s
  • Moore Square Art District, Moore Square National Register Historic District, and local Moore Square Historic District created
  • Removal of cross form walk, impromptu paths made permanent, addition of curvilinear walks
  • Moore Square Middle School and Exploris Museum and charter school located adjacent to Square
  • Farmers Market returned

Next Steps

  • State comments on design concept
  • City Council comments on design concept
  • Public comments on design concept
  • City Council approves design team and master plan process
  • Public comments on draft master plan
  • Finalize master plan for public review and adoption

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