COLLEGE PARK -- For the past 14 months, a 1.7-million-square-foot Federal Archives building has been under construction on the University of Maryland's main campus here at a cost of $250 million.
When completed in July 1993, the world's largest such repository will contain, among other documents, the Nixon presidential papers.
The university attracted this prime resource for its history and archival science students by donating a 33-acre site next to a fTC golf course.
The site is 10 miles northeast of the 840,000-square-foot main National Archives Building on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.
The new building, known informally as Archives II, will allow the National Archives and Records Administration to relieve overcrowding at the National Archives Building and to consolidate collections now in temporary storage.
The six-story Archives II will house not only records, but also a five-story, 60,000-square-foot public research section that will accommodate 390 researchers at a time and 351,000 square feet of administrative offices.
The 1,104-foot-long building is set on seven acres and will contain nearly 700,000 square feet of climate-controlled storage for 2 million cubic feet of records, a 334-seat theater, conference rooms, cafeteria, exercise room and a day-care center for 50 children.
An adjacent, three-story parking garage can accommodate 763 cars.
The modern, white, precast concrete structure with clear and green glass was designed as a joint venture by architects Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum of St. Louis and Ellerbe Becket, a Minneapolis engineering firm.
It is twice as long as wide to avoid disturbing an Indian archaeological site discovered during preparations for the building.
Certain types of storage space may be exhausted as early as 2004, but the building was designed for expansion.
To keep the project from affecting the federal deficit, Archives II was financed through 30-year certificates of participation in the $302 million loan at 8 1/2 percent interest, instead of through normal and less costly federal construction financing mechanisms.
Starting in 1994, Congress is expected to appropriate funds annually to amortize the debt.
George Hyman Construction Co. of Bethesda is constructing the building. Gilbane Building Co. of Providence, R.I., is providing construction management services for the General Services Administration.