The Iowa Architectural Foundation (IAF) was founded in 1989 by a group of people interested in pursuing methods to fund an Architecture in the Schools program. The first organizational meeting was held on August 23, 1988, at which time the initial Board of Trustees were elected into office, bylaws were adopted, and bank authorizations were signed. The Foundation received federal tax exemption by the Internal Revenue Service in 1989.

The Foundation sponsored the broadcast of Skyscraper on Iowa Public Television in 1990 and in 1991 received a grant to develop social studies curriculum on architectural heritage for 2nd grade students in the West Des Moines School District.

In 1994, “History for Lunch” public walking tours began and in 1995 the Foundation sponsored the Iowa Community Design Assistance Team (ICDAT), a project of the Iowa State University Department of Architecture.

By 1996, social studies curriculum for 3rd grade students in Des Moines Public Schools was developed and tested and teacher development workshops were conducted in three communities throughout Iowa.

The Iowa Community Design Assistance Team officially transferred to the IAF in 2001 and was renamed the Community Design Program (CDP). Walking Tours transitioned to evening, event based public tours in 2002 and later to evening, summer tours and their own committee in 2008. The committee transitioned into the Architecture in the Community committee in 2011 to conduct more expansive public programs for adults.

2014 celebrated 25 years of IAF programs. Over the course of this time, the Foundation has reached almost every corner of the state through its public outreach programs. Over 6,000 people have participated in student and adult architecture walking tours, over 27 communities have participated in the Community Design Program, and over 150 volunteers have donated countless hours to putting on IAF programs.

In 2015, the IAF brand and logo was updated and a new mission was adopted: Inspiring Appreciation for Architecture and Design in Everyone. With three volunteer committees: Architecture in the Community, Architecture in the Schools, and the Community Design Program, the IAF continues to prosper and grow and do good work promoting the value of architecture and design throughout the entire state of Iowa.