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Downtown Des Moines Walking Tours


Iowa Architectural Foundation announces that the 2020 season of Architecture on the Move, downtown Des Moines architectural walking tours will move ahead, but with restrictions. These tours, sponsored by Kum & Go, provide an opportunity for local residents and visitors alike to appreciate the architectural treasures of Iowa’s capital city. The downtown Des Moines architecture tours will occur on July 10, Aug. 14 and Sept. 11.

Social distancing will be enforced and tour groups are limited to 10. Guides will wear wireless speakers so you can hear the tour without crowding. Because of current health concerns, the tours WILL NOT include wine and snacks as in previous years. Sign-in starts at 5 p.m., adjacent to the entryway of the Iowa Center for Architecture, Capital Square at 400 Locust St. The tours take off at 5:30 p.m.

Tours cover both contemporary and historic architecture. Architect-guides will teach about architectural detail, style and elements, and intriguing stories and the historical significance of the buildings that shape the downtown skyline. Four different tour routes are offered:

  • North: Learn insight into Des Moines’ more contemporary architecture, including the Catholic Pastoral Center, AEG’s headquarters, Principal’s corporate campus, and the world-famous architects, such as Mies van der Rohe and Helmut Jahn, who have left their mark here.
  • South: Walk through the historic Court Avenue and Warehouse District and learn about the history of this exciting entertainment and downtown living area. Includes World Food Prize and Polk County Courthouse.
  • East: Enjoy a stroll through Des Moines’ revitalized East Village. Highlights include background on the City Beautiful Movement and the Riverwalk’s public buildings.
  • West: This tour showcases some of Des Moines’ older, stately buildings such as the Temple for the Performing Arts and Clemens Building and Hotel Fort Des Moines, some of our most significant skyscrapers and new developments including Krause Gateway Center, Wellmark, Nationwide and the Des Moines Central Library.

Architect guides are not scripted, so each tour is unique and different. Tours typically last 90 minutes and are approximately 14 city blocks in length. Comfortable shoes and clothing are recommended. Bring an umbrella if it is sprinkling. Each tour is $20 per person, purchased advance on Eventbrite. A limited number of tickets are available at the door, with only cash or check accepted. If you have questions, email the Iowa Architectural Foundation at A Skywalk tour will be offered in case of inclement weather including rain and excessive heat. All proceeds benefit the Iowa Architectural Foundation’s public educational programs. 


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