Northern Virginia facility ground brokenBy Larry Hincker
Spectrum Volume 18 Issue 03 - September 7, 1995
The presidents of Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia, along with officials from Fairfax and Falls Church, broke ground Tuesday for the universities' first permanent home in the region since they began providing educational programs decades ago. The universities expect to occupy the building in December 1996.
Virginia Tech has offered continuing-education and extension programs in the area for 80 years and began offering graduate degrees from a rented farm house in Reston in 1969. UVa began offering courses more than 40 years ago. The universities have shared the Telestar building in Falls Church since 1981, although the programs had outgrown the facility after a decade.
The new facility, located on Haycock Road between George Mason High School and the West Falls Church Metro station, will be a four-story, 105,000-square-foot structure. It will have the advantage of having been designed as an educational structure rather than adapted from an office building, explained Virginia Tech University Architect Peter Karp. All classrooms and offices will be wired with a fiber optic backbone; and, most of the classrooms will have satellite downlink capability, Karp said.
The new facility represents significant municipal and state cooperation--as did the groundbreaking ceremony, with Jeff Tarbert, Fairfax mayor, and Kate Hanley, chair of the Falls Church Board of Supervisors, handling golden shovels beside Virginia Tech President Paul Torgersen and UVa President John Casteen. The universities paid the City of Falls Church a $500,000 down payment/option for the city's five-acre portion of the seven-acre site. The city provided a 40-year lease for $1 per year with an option to purchase beginning after 25 years and waived water connections valued at $62,000. Fairfax County will contribute $50,000 per year for 20 years toward debt service. It waived approximately $225,000 of development/regulatory fees, and contributed the Whittier School to Falls Church. The state will appropriate $105,000 annually toward debt service. The universities are jointly issuing $15.945 million in bonds for construction. Total project cost is $16.8 million.
Virginia Tech operates graduate degree programs in public administration, business administration, computer science, information systems, economics, electrical engineering, systems engineering, civil engineering, environmental engineering, engineering administration, science and technology studies, family and child development, and education.
The University of Virginia offers 11 master's degree programs, five certificate programs, a range of endorsement programs, relicensure graduate courses for K-12 educators, custom-designed offerings for regional corporations and agencies, advanced seminars in executive, professional and technical fields, and arts and sciences programs for the general public.
New programs have been added by the universities in response to a 1992 survey of educational needs among the area's adult population, and the computing technologies in the new building will make additional programs possible. Virginia Tech's family-therapy clinic will also be able to expand its services in the new building.