Forward Thinking Design

The Iowa Center for Architecture’s new space highlights what great design is all about.

In February the American Institute of Architecture Iowa Chapter (AIA Iowa) and the Iowa Architectural Foundation (IAF) introduced a new resource to benefit the public, architects, and building industry professionals.

The Iowa Center for Architecture is, according to AIA Iowa, “the state’s leading cultural institution focusing on architecture.” And it provides the ideal bridge for communication between the public and the design and construction communities across the state.

“AIA Iowa has been in this office since 2009,” says Jessica Reinert of the AIA. “But we wanted to repurpose the space to host exhibits and activities.” The organization hosts exhibitions, programs, and special events to encourage collaboration and to invite the public to experience architecture and design.

On February 11 the Iowa Center for Architecture held its open house with refreshments and guest speakers and tours of the facility. “We had nearly 100 attendees, including chapter members and members of the Downtown Des Moines and Greater Des Moines Chambers of Commerce,” Reinert says.

The Iowa Center for Architecture, home to AIA Iowa and the IAF, is located in Capitol Square, overlooking the new Cowles Commons. It was the first LEED Commercial interior Platinum project in the state, the highest LEED certification level possible.

All the platinum projects must achieve a combined score of 80 or higher (out of a total 110) in seven areas: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, innovation in design, and regional priority.

“With our new flex space, we can offer more exhibitions and events. We invite the public to stop in to the Center and view our exhibits and architectural firm displays and to utilize the programs we offer,” says Reinert.

In addition to these exhibits, which are free and open to the public, the ICA allows member firms to reserve the window display area to highlight member projects and display information about the architectural industry.

The ICA facility, which includes flex space, conference room, and a kitchen, is available for rent to businesses and organizations interested in hosting meetings or social events.
Reinert says, “We have links on our website for companies to get more information if they’re interested in reserving the space. And that includes amenities like wireless Internet and audio visual equipment if they need it.”

As part of the Iowa Center for Architecture’s efforts to foster communication between the public and professional communities, it has been responsible for a host of public outreach programs over the years. The group and its members continue to be actively involved in these ongoing events. “We’ve had our office in central Iowa and provided programming across the state for a long time,” Reinert says. “But this repurposed space not only showcases what we do, it allows us to be in the public eye in a new way.”

The space enables the Iowa Center for Architecture to promote its members and the industry they serve and also offers something to the public. They get the opportunity to see how the architectural profession is contributing to the livability and beauty of our communities across the state.

That’s forward-thinking—with a rich history.

Tour Iowa Architecture

Through its website,, AIA Iowa provides a virtual tour of numerous architectural projects designed by member firms.

The site states, “You will find award-winning and published projects of architecture all across the state of Iowa. This website was designed to showcase the talented architects and firms we have within our state of Iowa.”

Stop by to see some of the stunning work right here at home.

Want to learn more?

Programs hosted and sponsored by the Iowa Center for Architecture include

  • Walking tours
  • Adult classes on design-related topics
  • Community design charrettes
  • Lectures and special events
  • Monthly architecture firm displays
  • Speakers bureau
  • People’s Choice design competition
  • Iowa Architect magazine
  • Disaster assistance and Iowa Building Safety Assessment & Failure Evaluation (BSAFE) team
  • Historical resources for the history of architects and architecture in Iowa

To learn more about these events and organizations, visit these websites:

AIA Iowa | 400 Locust Street, Suite 100 | Des Moines | 515.244.7502

Started in 1904 by eight Des Moines architects, the AIA Iowa Chapter seeks to be “the voice of the profession of architecture, promoting the value of good design, and advocating for the health and safety of the public.”

AIA Iowa has more than 900 licensed architects and intern architects in its membership today.

Through its programs and member services, AIA Iowa promotes the profession of architecture, highlighting the many ways architecture can improve business, employee well-being, and quality of life. And its members benefit through professional development programs, licensure programs, and much more.