While downtown Raleigh continues to go through a sort of ‘urban renaissance’, there may be some elements that are overlooked. We all love tall buildings and the convenience of being close to everything but, where in all this density is there any room for parks and open spaces for us to relax in? Moore and Nash square are our tickets for just that, but as downtown changes I believe that the squares need to change as well.
To get more people to spend time inside our open spaces they need to be more inviting and currently Nash and Moore are not quite the best hosts to visitors, Nash especially. At a comprehensive plan presentation I went to a couple weeks ago, they touched on the layout of the two squares. A big detail that was mentioned that I never thought of before was that there are too many trees. Sounds odd right? If you think about it though a public square is more inviting if you can see all the way through it. It is even better if you can see buildings above the trees and street activity while being anywhere inside the space.
I went to visit Philadelphia in March 2007 and when recalling the trip, I remember that we spent some time around Rittenhouse Square, one of the city’s urban parks. (map) It has become one of the city’s most desirable areas and the park is a great example of what Raleigh should strive for. There is a great combination of pedestrian elements, like benches, wide sidewalks, statues, and fountains, mixed with nature. The trees do not overpower visitors or give anyone a slight sense of claustrophobia. Sunlight still comes through during the day while city and building lights brighten the space at night. Here is a picture I took during the trip.
Wintertime, so no leaves, but use your imagination
I really believe that Nash and Moore need to get a haircut. Even with the leaves gone, Nash square is still a rat’s nest of vegetation. The picture above will show you that you cannot see through the square and being inside can feel a bit crowded. Moore square does a better job but could still use some work. This may be a touchy subject but in the end, I believe it will get a lot of support because of the idea of preserving open spaces. Our two downtown spaces need a makeover and I’m not afraid to say it but many branches and some trees may have to get the ax.