Author Archives: Linda

RZ Design Observes National Intern Day by Spotlighting Zach Randazzo

Since May, UCONN engineering student Zach Randazzo has been an intern at RZ Design assisting the Structural engineering and design team and honing his skills. Come fall, he’ll enter his junior year and will continue pursuing a bachelor’s of science degree in Civil Engineering.

Marketing’s Linda Colon sat down with Zach who shared what his experience has been like so far. “I’ve been learning how to use Revit and AutoCAD, which will be very useful for my future as an engineer. I previously had some experience using MicroStation from a course at UConn, which made learning the functions of these programs a little easier. Having experience with these two additional software programs will be invaluable for me,” he says.

Zach says he’s increased his knowledge of concrete and steel construction by learning how to update and format construction specifications. This insight will give him a head start on future academic courses on concrete and steel design at UCONN’s School of Engineering. He’s also had the opportunity to apply lessons from his engineering classes by helping a colleague on a project involving determining the wind load and the weight of a building while taking into account different forces and moments while designing.

RZ’s Design’s Vice President of Structural Engineering Christopher Zajda, PE, has mentored Zach throughout the summer and says, “Zach has comfortably jumped into his role as an intern and helped us update our structural specifications. He has accompanied fellow colleagues on several site visits including a structural review of the Springfield Jewish Community Center and a review of the East Hartford Business Park roof framing to assess new RTU support locations. We’ve also included him in our structural staff meetings and remain impressed with his level of engagement, positive attitude and strong work ethic.”

RZ Design embraces the opportunity to host engineering students via summer internships by pairing them with seasoned engineers in their discipline and  providing them with meaningful work to help increase their knowledge and encourage them to contribute their talents.



Santo Domingo Engineering Merges with RZ Design

On April 1, 2022, Hartford’s Santo Domingo Engineering LLC structural engineering firm merged with RZ Design Associates, Inc. of Rocky Hill.

While Oscar Santo Domingo has retired, his remaining staff members have integrated with RZ Design’s team in the Rocky Hill headquarters where they will continue offering clients the exceptional service they have come to expect.

“Having an established structural engineering and design team already, we knew it was a great fit for Santo Domingo Engineering to merge with our firm. Their reputation for providing stellar engineering and service makes them an incredible asset for RZ Design. We are pleased to add to our project portfolio and to serve existing Santo Domingo clients. We will continue to deliver personal service and precise engineering and design and utilize the additional talent for future RZ projects,” says Robert Ricard, PE, president of RZ Design.

Led by the firm’s partners, whose combined experience total 170 years, RZ Design is the continuation of the former Legnos & Cramer consulting engineering firm (est. in 1952). Together, the legacy has strengthened RZ Design’s brand through the successful engineering and design in excess of 10,000 projects for new construction, renovations, historical buildings, additions, utility retrofits serving the education, municipal, retail, restaurant, residential, hospitality commercial, healthcare and recreational markets.

RZ Design Adds to Connecticut and Massachusetts Teams

RZ Design welcomes three new team members to the firm.

Ed Struchowski joins the Rocky Hill, Conn. headquarters in the role of MEP, structural and fire protection systems designer. A BIM coordinator skilled in Revit, Ed brings more than three decades of design experience and systems coordination making him a great addition to the fleet of designers.

Hazem Abouafia, EIT, PMP, PMI-RMP, LEED GA, CMRP, joins the Franklin, Mass. branch office as a senior plumbing and fire protection engineer. He has more than a decade of project management experience focused on a variety of projects in the commericial, healthcare, pharmaceutical and biotech markets.

Also located at our Rocky Hill headquarters is Mike Emonds, Jr., P.E., mechanical engineer. His prior experience includes the development of mechanical construction documents, drawings and specifications. He has performed field work, studies and investigations of existing mechanical systems, managed client relationships and is knowledgeable of all current codes and standards.

RZ Design Names Director of Human Resources

Debra Milardo, IPMA-SCP, recently joined RZ Design as Director of Human Resources. With more than two decades of human resources experience in both the public and private sectors, she most recently served as the Town of Madison’s Director of Human Resources, ADA Coordinator and was a member of their emergency operations committee. Prior to that, she served the City of Middletown as the Mayor’s Chief of Staff and as Director of Personnel.

Debra’s background includes labor relations, negotiations, arbitrations, grievance hearings and litigation. Additionally she had managed employee benefits,  workers’ compensation, OSHA standards, hiring and onboarding, progressive employee improvement plans, wellness programs, COVID policies and procedures, Federal DOT requirements, mandatory training and human resource policies and procedures.  She maintains her Senior Certified Professional status through IPMA (International Public Management Association).


RZ Designs Adds to Structural Engineering & Design Team

Meirett Botros, EIT, and Mukul Gupta, EIT, have joined RZ Design and are located at the Rocky Hill, Conn. headquarters.

As a structural engineer with 20 years of experience, Meirett will apply her extensive and diverse knowledge of principles and practices of a wide range of materials and construction techniques for a variety of projects in all stages of design. This includes concrete, steel, masonry and wood structures for projects within the institutional, industrial, residential and commercial markets.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Behna University, Benha, Egypt and is EIT-certified.

As a structural designer, Mukul will utilize Revit and Auto-CAD to drafts sketches, contract drawings and specifications. He is also charged with reviewing project documentation for conformity and quality assurance and viewing shop drawings and submittals. He holds a master’s degree in Civil Engineering from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, California and a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from Sir M Visvesvaraya Institute of Technology, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India. Photo of Mukul Gupta, EIT

In addition to the structural engineering and design team, Meirett and Mukul will work closely with their fellow engineers and designers from all of the firm’s disciplines including mechanical, electrical, plumbing and fire protection.

RZ Design’s Engineering and Design Contributions On Display at Ribbon Cutting for NVCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center

A ribbon cutting for Naugatuck Valley Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Center at Western Connecticut State University was held on Feb. 11, 2022. Led by Governor Ned Lamont and attended by many Connecticut dignataries and special guests, it was a proud day for RZ Design Associates, Inc.!

Having partnered with Quisenberry Arcari Malik, LLC as the engineering members of the a/e/c team for this warehouse-turned-training-center, we had an amazing opportunity to help perpetuate manufacturing education and future careers in the industry!

RZ Design’s Christopher H. Zajda, PE, led the structural engineering and design of the mezzanine, which serves as the Center’s classroom and accommodates 24 students. Kenneth A. Hipsky, PE, LEED AP, led the MEP and fire protection engineering and design throughout the entire facility.

Windham High School will undergo a major renovation this year. Led by Robert Ricard, P.E., RZ Design teamed up with Friar Architecture Inc. to provide the MEP and Fire Protection engineering and design covering all the major areas of the 221,428 SF building including the auditorium, boiler room, kitchen, cafeteria and temporary classrooms as well as a 7,268 SF addition.

Energy conservation is at the forefront of the electrical and lighting planning and designing with systems being designed in accordance with Connecticut’s High Performance Building Regulations and the new energy code program.

High efficiency LED lighting has been designed for all areas of the building including the interior, walkways, parking lots and football field lighting. The lighting systems in the regularly occupied rooms will be controlled by occupancy/vacancy sensors, but will have override switches for local control. This design will help to achieve greater energy efficiency by reducing power consumption to half of what is permitted by the IECC.

On the HVAC side, all early childhood and Pre-K classrooms will have hydronic radiant heating floors. This form of heating is more efficient than baseboard and forced-air heating methods since it eliminates duct losses and the distribution of allergens.

RZ Design On Board at The Boat Building for Engineering and Design Services

New tenant CGI, Inc. will occupy the fourth floor of Hartford‘s infamous 13-story high-rise known as The Boat Building. RZ partnered with Moser Pilon Nelson Architects for the fit out of the 4,700 SF space, contributing mechanical, electrical, plumbing, fire protection and telecom engineering and design services.
About The Boat Building – Completed in 1963 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, The Boat Building was first occupied by The Phoenix Companies. Building remains an icon located in the capital city of Hartford‘s downtown and, in 2016, was acquired by Nassau Reinsurance Company who has since made it their headquarters.

Welcome, Satish Molleti, PE!

Satish Molleti, PE recently joined RZ Design as an electrical engineer in our Rocky Hill, Connecticut office. His experience working in India and, most recently, in-state, designing a multitude of large and complex projects within the hospitality, industrial, warehouse, and commercial building sectors will be invaluable to the firm. He will collaborate with our MEP, Fire Protection and Structural engineers and designers on multi-disciplined projects using his technical excellence to help underscore the RZ Design’s exceptional quality we continuously strive to provide all of our clients.

Satish holds a master’s degree from the University of New Haven and a bachelor’s degree from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological, India, both in Electrical Engineering.

In the Wake of Disaster: RZ’s Engineers Stand Ready to Serve

Since 2010, structural engineers Bruce Perrone, P.E. and Christopher Zajda, P.E. have been volunteering with the Connecticut State Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security’s Urban Search and Rescue Team, Connecticut Task Force (USAR CT-TF1).

Committed to being deployed 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assist with structural collapse rescue and recovery anywhere in the state of Connecticut, they are required to report for duty within 90 minutes after receiving a call.

Chris recently sat down with Marketing’s Linda Colón to recall one such mission he was deployed on shortly after being sworn in by the Task Force.

Around 11 a.m. on Feb. 7, 2010, one of the coldest days of the year with temperatures hovering around zero degrees Fahrenheit, there was a natural gas explosion at the Kleen Energy Power Plant in Middletown, Conn. The USAR CT-TF1 put out the call to all Task Force members. Residing 15 miles from the disaster site, Chris was the first engineer to arrive on the scene joining dozens of first responders.

They assembled at one of the construction trailers to be briefed. The plant, which was still under construction and deemed about 90 percent complete, consisted of a tall, structural steel frame with numerous levels, pipes and equipment. Chris saw sections of pipe and structural steel members all over the area with many bent and completely out of shape. Large, wide flange structural steel building columns were also bent and some of the column’s dozens of 1-inch diameter splice connections bolts had been completely sheared off.

Tasked with helping to assess sections of the structure for stability and for potential secondary collapse, he was assigned to the first team to enter the building. Their assessments would help ensure rescuers could safely enter and search for victims. Since natural gas had been used at high pressure to purge the lines prompting the initial explosion, there was concern that a second explosion could occur at any time. This was something Chris would learn later.

They entered with search and rescue dogs doing their best to step around mounds of debris that were strewn everywhere and made it through most of the facility. Chris and another engineer had the team shore up a few locations to allow safer entry and outlined areas that rescue personnel should avoid.

Unfortunately, the mission went from rescue to recovery as the team did not find any live victims. As the night set in a team from Massachusetts arrived and Chris and his team reviewed their observations and recommendations with the newly arrived structural engineers.

At around 1 a.m., the Task Force completed their final paperwork, held a debriefing and were able to head home. Despite the intensity of the mission and the inability to locate anyone alive, Chris remains grateful his team, including the canine members were uninjured. He has also gained a special appreciation for first responders saying, “I have such respect for them and our entire team. Everyone wants to immediately rush into buildings to rescue people often with little consideration for the risks they face. I am glad I have the opportunity to identify those risky areas prior to sending rescuers in.”

Thinking back to the day he was sworn in, Chris says he was told by the state employee performing the ceremony, “Don’t worry, nothing ever happens in Connecticut.” Ironically, in addition to the Kleen Energy Power Plant explosion, Chris has also been deployed to disasters within the state including tornadoes, floods, Hurricane Sandy, house explosions, heavy snowfall collapses even searching for people who have gone missing. “It’s been quite a ride, but I wouldn’t take back a single minute of it. I have grown as a person and within my profession while finding a way to give back and, for that, I am grateful,” he says.

He also reflects on the comradery he has experienced, “I definitely bonded with my team the day of the power plant explosion as we saw unspeakable things and that bond has continued to deepen over the last 10 years. We are all here to support one another and to do our tiny part to help others. I know they would do the same for my family and me. I love being a member of the team.”

About the USAR

Established under the authority of the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 1989, the USAR is a framework for organizing federal, state and local partner emergency response teams as integrated federal disaster response task forces. The System’s 28 USAR task forces can be deployed by FEMA to a disaster area to provide assistance in structural collapse rescue or they may be pre-positioned when a major disaster threatens a community. To learn more: