The Rose Float Lab and Design Complex has reached its $3.7 million fundraising goal, with construction to begin by the end of this year.

The new lab will be constructed on a one-third-acre site on the northeastern side of campus near Kellogg Drive and the I-10 Freeway.

The facility will replace the Rose Float lab at the same site and is expected to open in 2020.

The entrance to the current Rose Float lab. $3.7 million has been raised primarily through donations for the new lab. (Brian Sease | The Poly Post)

Most contributions and donations received came from private donors, including alumni and supporters of the program, including a $1 million donation from alumnus Butch Lindley and his wife Vivien.

Donations were received from foundations and other organizations.

“It’ll be a lot more space than we currently have right now, and it’ll give the students an opportunity to really think outside the box and be innovative when they’re thinking about designs of rose floats,” Rose Float director Janetta McDowell said.

The current lab was constructed more than 30 years ago by students and is entirely outdoors — which is an issue during bad weather.

The new lab will boast 14,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor work space, which is safer and more practical.

“When it would rain, it was always kind of flooded in the office and the insides were flooded too,” said second-year psychology student and rose float design team member Caitlin Yaneza. “I just think there will be more stability for weather conditions.”

With an indoor enclosed construction bay, a large outdoor courtyard, design workspace, 5,000 square feet of storage, a hydraulic shop, and an electronic shop, the new lab will be able to host more volunteers and will be both a more efficient and a safer work space than the old lab.

The fundraising campaign is still ongoing to earn money for new equipment, upgrades to the facility, and to provide for the program in the future.

“I just think we need an upgrade on everything, basically,” third-year foods and nutrition student and leadership team member Ingrid de Oca said. “We would also have blackouts, like if everyone was welding, some part of the office would black out. And we’d have to share [equipment] so now more people will be able to work on stuff at the same time.”

Designed by the Gensler architecture firm, the new lab will be named in honor of alumni Don Miller and Ron Simons.

Miller, who died in 2004, pitched the idea of entering a float at the Rose Parade in 1948, just 90 days before the parade.

This was the beginning of the Cal Poly rose float tradition.

Since then, the Cal Poly universities have submitted 70 floats and won 58 awards.

With such a rich history, this lab is an exciting addition to the legacy of the Cal Poly floats.

Reaching its fundraising goal 70 years after the very first float is an incredible testament to the hundreds of students who work on the rose float program over the years.

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