The futuristic, solar-heated Terraset Elementary School in Reston has attracted so many curious visitors and inquiries since it was completed in 1977 that a new information center will be built alongside it to handle the demand.
The Fairfax County school board last week approved building the 1,600-square-foot information center on the Terraset school site. The building, which will contain a small office and a conference room, will house a mechanical engineer and two part-time receptionists to handle the hundreds of visitors and thousands of requests for information that come to the school.
The Saudi Arabians, who gave $665,000 to Fairfax schools two years ago to build Terraset, also are paying $70,000 for the visitors' center through a group called the Terraset Foundation. The foundation is a nonprofit educational organization that acts as an information clearing and ooling systems in the underground school.
The foundations also has guarantee at least two years of funding for the salaries of a mechanical engineer and receptionists, said school construcion chief Alton Foundation road of directors.
"The idea of the information center is to take burden off the regular school staff; there were too many visitors and information requests for them to handle on a regular basis," Hlavin said. "The school's staff was greeting visitors in the foyer while hundreds of kids were heading for the lunchroom. It just got to be too much."
A lease calls for Terraset Foundation to pay the school system a token rental fee of $1 a month for five years of use of the building, with an optional two-year extensioN. The building will become the property of Fairfax schools after the lease expires, Hlavin said.
"At the end of five years there shouldn't be this great demand on Terraset," Hlavin said. "Terraset will be regarded as Model-T by that time if solar energy technology progresses at the rate it is going now.