General Services Administrator Terence C. Golden, who turned up the heat, reduced space and curtailed smoking in federal buildings, simplified federal travel and found financing to finish the Federal Triangle, will resign March 18 after nearly three years at GSA, he said yesterday.

Golden said he is leaving to spend time with his wife, Kathleen, who recently underwent surgery at the National Institutes of Health for Cushing's syndrome, a serious disorder of the adrenal glands.

Golden leaves an agency under siege because of alleged misconduct in handling bids for telephone equipment. GSA's inspector general, the Justice Department and the Senate Government Affairs Committee are conducting separate investigations of allegations that a midlevel GSA official revealed confidential data about a competitor's bid to telephone company employees.

Golden has not been implicated in the alleged incident, which has cast a cloud over the agency's ability to manage the separate $10 billion procurement of a governmentwide telecommunications system.

"Serious errors in judgment were made on the part of one individual in GSA," Golden said, but "we have a solid group of people working to get the job done" on the larger project, known as FTS-2000.

"We must not lose sight of the the goal of replacing an obsolete system that is costing us about $100 {million} to $150 million too much each year," he said.

Golden said he did not stay until the end of the Reagan administration because "Kathleen needs me now, not" later.

Golden's supporters say he:"Humanely" reduced GSA's staff from 25,934 to slightly more than 19,000.

Pushed through policies restricting smoking except in designated areas of federal buildings.

Promulgated new expense procedures for federal employees on official travel that reduced paper work and allowed them "fairer compensation."

Relaxed heating and cooling restrictions enacted during the energy crisis and cut the amount of space used by each federal employee.

Was instrumental in completion of the final piece of the Federal Triangle abandoned during the Great Depression.

Golden, former managing partner for Trammel Crow Residential Cos. in Dallas, won praise from the Washington business community, Congress, arts advocates and federal employee organizations for his GSA stewardship but never managed to become part of the administration's conservative inner circle.

"From day one, from a conservative standpoint, serious questions were raised about his commitment to the Reagan agenda," said Lou Cordia, director of executive branch liaison for the Heritage Foundation, an influential conservative think tank here.

"Conservatives view GSA as a giant real estate firm. . . . From an asset sales approach, he didn't seem to be committed," Cordia said.

Golden, a supporter of Vice President Bush, said, "Bridging the gap to the far right was very difficult for me."

Golden's appointment of several career civil servants to GSA's top jobs angered conservatives but was praised by such employee groups as the Senior Executive Association, which gave Golden its top award.

Kenneth T. Blaylock, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, the largest federal union, described Golden as "one of the very few Reagan appointees AFGE as been able to work with."

Harry McPherson, president of the Federal City Council, a D.C. business group, said Golden and Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) were responsible for finishing the Federal Triangle by pushing to completion a monumental federal building on the site of a parking lot beside and behind the District Building.

"The truth is that this idea for an International Cultural and Trade Center has been knocking around Washington for years and it was going nowhere," McPherson said.

"Terry Golden saw that, over 30 years, the government could save hundreds of millions of dollars in leasing costs by constructing a building for federal workers. He saw this huge grand last place on Pennsylvania Avenue, and he knew that this was the place to put it. Without him and Sen. Moynihan, it would not have happened."

In a statement, House Government Operations Committee Chairman Jack Brooks (D-Tex.), with whom Golden tangled on the FTS-2000 procurement, called him an "outstanding administrator."