Architecture on the Move: IAF’s Guided Walking Tours of Downtown Des Moines

2023 Architectural Walking Tours of Downtown Des Moines

Register on  Eventbrite $20 per person

May 12, June 9, July 14, August 11, September 8, October 6

Make your reservations for in-person architect-guided walking tours of downtown Des Moines! These tours provide an opportunity for local residents and visitors alike to appreciate the rich architectural heritage of Iowa’s capital city. 

Tours cover both contemporary and historic architecture. You will learn about architectural detail, style and elements, along with intriguing facts and the historical significance of the buildings that shape the downtown skyline. 

Tours leave from the Iowa Center for Architecture, 400 Locust Street, Suite 100, in Capital Square. Sign up in the atrium area. Check-in is between 5 and 5:30 PM. for all tours with the exception of October 6**:


Our October tours will depart from the Hotel Fort Des Moines lobby, 1000 Walnut St., at 5:00PM. Check-in will open at 4:30PM due to the earlier sunset. This date will offer the following NEW AND DIFFERENT route options:

• Western Gateway: This route explores the architecture around and the planning of the Western Gateway Park, which includes the Krause Gateway Center, Meredith Corp, Nationwide and the Temple Performing Arts

• Auto Row: A tour covering the west side of downtown emphasizing the roles of the automobile industry in Iowa from 1880-1930.

For all other dates, four different tour routes are offered, starting from Iowa Center for Architecture.

  • 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 EMC Highrise, 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. Tours typically last 90 minutes and are approximately 14 city blocks in length. Comfortable shoes are a must. Each tour is $20.00 per person.  Tickets can be purchased in advance on Eventbrite. 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. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes and weather-appropriate clothing.

All proceeds benefit the Iowa Architectural Foundation’s public educational programs.