New facility to be built in nation's capital is 'blessing' for students

Plans for a $3 million facility in downtown Washington D.C. to house BYU students participating in the Washington Seminar were announced Sept. 15 by BYU president Rex E. Lee.

The Washington Seminar is a semester-long program designed to let students work as interns with private and government employees and gain hands-on experience not available through conventional teaching methods.The proposed building to house the seminar, tentatively designed as a five-story structure pending approval of the city's Zoning and Planning Department, will provide affordable housing for up to 50 students, including married participants. In addition, the facility will have a library, office, reception area, director's living quarters, and a seminar room.

"This center will be a real blessing to the hundreds of BYU students, married and single, who come here to participate in the Washington experience," explained Pres. Lee.

Currently, single students are housed in an apartment complex in Alexandria, Va., about eight miles from downtown Washington. Married students, who generally make up 30 percent of the seminar participants, find their own housing wherever they can.

The new facility will be located at 1666 P. Street, N.W., near Dupont Circle, a much more convenient location for participants and for those who work with the seminar. BYU has retained the firm of Fowler, Ferguson, Kingston and Ruben architects of Salt Lake City to design the facility.

The university received a $2 million gift from the Milton and Gloria Barlow Foundation which made the facility possible. In addition, Pres. Lee said, the school is trying to establish a $1 million endowment to support students who, because of financial hardship, are not able to participate in the program. That endowment will be sought through private funding sources.

Final plans for the facility will be submitted to the City Planning Commission in the next two months and then, if approved, construction could begin in the spring, said Warren J. Jones, architectural section supervisor in BYU's Physical Facilities Division. Hopefully the building will be finished in time for occupancy beginning fall semester 1991, Jones said.

Every semester approximately 50 students participate in the seminar, which began in 1973. Through the years, more than 1,300 students have gained experience through the program.

Interns work full-time four days a week, and on Fridays they participate in lectures, discussions, briefings and classes. The group also visits Congress, the Supreme Court, the State Department and other government offices.

Participation in the seminar is not limited to political science students. Students from every academic discipline can benefit from the semester-long seminar.

"Since Washington is one of the world's renowned centers for the arts, museums, research, and international politics, students have the unique opportunity to participate in a wide variety of the enriching experiences that only the nation's capital can offer," said Pres. Lee.

"We expect the new center to create a noticeable presence for BYU and the Church in Washington that will dramatically strengthen their stature among the nation's leaders and decision makers," he continued. "It will make it easier for noted lecturers, statesmen, academicians, and guest speakers to interface with our students, and to exchange ideas and concepts with them. These experiences can have a far-reaching impact on a significant segment of our society."

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