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Walking Architecture Tours Announced for Downtown Des Moines


Iowa Architectural Foundation is proud to announce that its walking tours are back for the 2021 season of Architecture on the Move with only a few modifications for health safety. These public tours provide an opportunity for people to appreciate and understand the architectural treasures of the  city. Guides will wear microphones to enable social distancing.

The first tour of the season will be Friday, May 14.

Tours cover both contemporary and historic architecture. Guides will teach about architectural detail, style and elements, with intriguing stories and the historical significance of the buildings that shape the downtown skyline. Sign-in starts at 5 p.m., inside the atrium at Capital Square, 400 Locust St. Tours take off at 5:30 p.m. Masks are to be worn indoors and comfortable shoes and clothing are recommended. The cost is $20 and tickets can be purchased in advance on Eventbrite, where you will also find more details.

Four different tour routes are offered for the tour dates.

Friday, May 14
Friday, June 11
Friday, July 9
Friday, Aug. 13
Friday, Sept. 10

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• 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 and future of this exciting entertainment and downtown living area. Includes World Food Prize Building, Saddlery Building, Rock Island Depot, Hawkeye Insurance and more.

• East: Enjoy a stroll through Des Moines’ revitalized East Village. Highlights include background on the Civic Center Historic District, City Beautiful Movement, the Riverwalk’s public buildings, Dilley Manufacturing (now Iowa Taproom) and new projects like the new mass timber building, 111 E. Grand.

• 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, EMC, Wells Fargo Financial, Nationwide and the Des Moines Central Library.

Tours are guided by architects and historians and are not scripted, so each tour is unique and different. Many people come back to take all four. Tours typically last 90 minutes and are approximately 14 city blocks in length. A limited number of tickets are available at the door, with 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. There are no refunds, but if you alert us in advance that you are unable to attend, you will be re-scheduled for another date. Or you may also give your ticket to someone else.

All proceeds benefit the Iowa Architectural Foundation’s public educational programs. The Iowa Architectural Foundation is a charitable organization founded in 1989 to promote the awareness and appreciation of architecture and design. The nonprofit pursues its mission through youth and adult educational/outreach programs, community design charrettes, architectural walking tours, an annual lecture series, and more. For more information, visit

For tickets, click here

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