Raleigh’s East Civic Tower

Raleigh’s East Civic Tower

Raleigh, North Carolina

The City of Raleigh’s new civic tower will be designed to reflect Raleigh’s stature as a 21st Century City of Innovation. The new building will support high quality public service and provide new healthy workplaces in a vibrant, urban, culturally inclusive civic space.

The City of Raleigh’s East Civic Tower, conceived of as the first phase of the Civic Campus Master Plan, endeavors to secure a place in Raleigh’s rich history as a civic landmark and destination. The product of a close collaboration between the City of Raleigh and future users, this project is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to provide people in Raleigh a place that resonates with the contemporary state of government and expresses the city’s identity.

RATIO as Architect of Record in collaboration with Lead Designer Henning Larsen. 
City of Raleigh
420,000 SF
Summer 2025
vibrant, urban, and inviting

Located at historic Nash Square, the project consists of a new 20-story tall, 420,000-square-foot civic office tower, including 16 floors of departmental office space and conference facilities for over 1,100 staff members, and public-facing government functions such as a public service area, council chamber, health center for staff, art gallery space, and a public facing coffee bar/grab-and-go station. The new building will enable the City to consolidate most of its downtown workforce from multiple office buildings, to offer the public convenient, efficient, customer-focused services in one central location.

The new building is envisioned as simple white volume, reminiscent of the pure geometric shapes of Mount Airy granite local to North Carolina. The façade interprets the graceful slender oaks characteristic for the streets of Raleigh, into a playful yet distinctly civic landmark, against the Raleigh Skyline.

At the base of the building, the solidity of the tower massing is carved away, resulting in a transparent podium façade that invites participation, and blends inside and out to visually bring the nature of Nash Square and the surrounding streetscape into the building. Simultaneously, the series of stepped terraces allow for surrounding landscape to ascend the podium, integrating nature at all the podium levels.


democracy on display

Today’s city halls should be equitable reflections of their communities, requiring attention to detail at the human scale, and a strong focus on intuitive and welcoming spaces. They are also increasingly operating more like community centers, blurring the lines of what it means to be a cultural destination. The design seeks to be the manifestation of a transparent government with its roots firmly planted in local vernacular while building upon an aspirational quality meant to advocate and inspire.

Civic transparency relates not only to an institution on display visually, but certainly takes a position on community leadership and representation. By creating spaces that are inviting and promote democracy on display, this project will become a beacon for the community and will strengthen an already mature and vibrant sense of identity in Raleigh.


Public life starts at the ground level. Encouraging extroverted functions, which invite people to frequent and spend time in the building, the design attracts and sustains an active public realm. This calls for a model of public service which is easy to navigate and allows for efficient and effective services, integrates service with technology, and is where personal help is always available to assist and direct. By creating bright, daylit spaces that are inviting, match the scale and civic qualities of the project, and are primarily rooted in the customer’s experience, a vibrant urban space begins to emerge.


The council chamber is a space where democracy unfolds. The chamber is an open and inviting space for engaged discussions, spirited debates, and consensus building around the future of Raleigh. In the council chamber, one is met by a warm, welcoming, and dignified atmosphere. The double height space over the chamber, accentuated by a curved wall behind the council’s table, brings in warmth, helps transmit sound across the whole chamber, and creates a pleasant and airy ambiance. The council’s table is the focal point of the whole space, with radiating rows of public seating creating a forum of civic life.