Moore Square is one of two surviving downtown parks outlined in William Christmas’ 1792 plan for the development of downtown Raleigh. The plan called for four four-acre parks to be arranged symmetrically around the Capitol Plaza. The other surviving park is Nash Square. Moore square lies in the heart of the Moore Square Historic District. It was named after Alfred E. Moore, a North Carolina judge who served as an associate justice on the Supreme Court.
Today, Moore Square is characterized by a stand of mature oaks, but not much else. It has been updated bit-by-bit over the years and many of the park’s elements compete with one another. Paths with different surfaces have been added where traffic patterns had worn the lawn. Mis-matched plantings and borders have been added without any over-arching design.
The Moore Square Master Plan
In 2009, the Raleigh City Council approved the Moore Square Design and Public Process to make better use of this unique downtown green space. The process kicked off with public input sessions and a contest of conceptual designs. In October of 2009, Christopher Counts Studio was announced as the winner of the jury-based competition. The concepts that won the competition have been further refined through a series of public meetings and reviews. The product of this process is the Moore Square Master Plan, a general plan that documents the results of public input and suggests many possible features to be added to Moore Square. Once approved by the City Council, this plan will be used to create detailed design and engineering documents as well as a final budget for the updates.
Some of the primary plan elements are:
- Central Lawn – consolidating the existing fragmented lawn into an open usable space.
- Tilted Lawn – a raised area within the park that includes a grassy social space on one side and a play environment including rocks and plantings on the other. A possible feature of this hill is that it could contain park utilities, minimizing disturbance of existing tree roots. Plans also consider a public restroom housed within this hill.
- Linear Plaza – removing the limited parking at the south side of the square (adjacent to City Market) to create a plaza that could be used for events or markets.
- Perimeter Border – a “dignified perimeter” that frames the park and encourages entrance at formal designated areas.
- Linear Benches – long custom-made benches that act as “social generators”, perfect for a quick lunch or people-watching.
- Grove Terrace and Café Kiosk – a flat open area that includes movable chairs and a small café serving prepared foods.