Iowa Architectural Foundation (Des Moines, IA)

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Architect Tom Wollan gives third-grade students a tour of Des Moines's architecture.  Photo by Jessica Reinert

Founded in 1988, the Iowa Architectural Foundation (IAF) has worked to promote and preserve Iowa's outstanding architecture and highlight the positive impact such an environment has on quality of life. Architecture in the Schools, IAF's oldest and largest program, works with educators and students to impart not only an awareness and understanding of Des Moines's architecture, but also a general appreciation for architectural design.

Recently, due to budget constraints, the Des Moines School District had to cancel all field trips, thereby preventing students from participating in IAF's architectural walking tours, a key component of its education program. To remedy this situation, the Iowa Architectural Foundation received an NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant of $14,700 in FY 2005 to support architectural field trips for public school third-graders. Each student received an activity booklet, The History and Architectural Heritage of Des Moines, that was integrated into their social studies curriculum, giving the students an understanding of architecture in anticipation of the field trip.

The tours were led by architects and interns specially trained by IAF to be able to communicate to the third-graders the important role architecture plays in the Des Moines community. While on the tour, the students participated in a scavenger hunt, an activity that helped them to apply what they were seeing and hearing. This scavenger hunt originally was created nine years ago, but the NEA grant allowed IAF to update the activity and take into account the changes in the Des Moines skyline that had occurred over the decade.

(From the NEA 2005 Annual Report)