Ilianna H. Kwaske, Ph.D., Managing Principal, Office Ron Kwaske, Architect

Since our last update, Office Ron Kwaske, Architect has continued to discover and make tremendous use of Vectorworks 2015. One tool that excites us right now is the Curtain Wall tool, which treats the curtain wall as a wall-type.

Before this tool’s existence, we created curtain walls by extruding rectangles in place. If the design direction changed or there was a problem, our work was wasted because we had to rebuild the curtain wall in the model. The design process was never really dynamic, and much of the design was worked out two-dimensionally either in Vectorworks or by hand-sketching over printed perspectives.

Now, the Curtain Wall tool allows for dynamic design. We have absolute design control without blocking the creative process. To create a curtain wall, we simply select the wall type and specify parameters (i.e., height, frame, and pane size, spacing, etc.). It’s as easy as making a wall in that you draw from one point to another, and there it is. If you would like a door, you simply add the door into the curtain wall, and it is recognized as a door. Or, you can select the Curtain Wall Door option on the object info palette, which fixes the door inside the panel. From there, studying the curtain wall is easy and making changes near instantaneous, which is critical in our world.

Currently, Office Ron Kwaske, Architect has two projects in which glass is a significant feature: a commercial seven-story building and a small custom home. Rather than just do another box with glass on it, we are trying to look at these structures differently to do something extraordinary.

The commercial project consists of a ground-up seven story building on a busy Chicago street. The curtain wall is one of the building’s most visually significant features. Because the Curtain Wall tool gave us absolute control over things like frame location, spacing, and size, we began to visualize the glass as a tapestry that interacts with the other materials of the building, along with the environment. A lone tree and a lamppost in front of the building are important environmental objects when you consider how the building will be viewed as part of the streetscape. We constantly rendered the model in open GL with the Heliodon tool to look at how the mullions could be spaced to enhance its aesthetic via the shadows. This gave us a more realistic view of what could be happening, and we began to look at the movement of a frame in relationship to the movement of pixels in our design world. Again, if changes need to be made to the model, they can be made quickly and easily.

Our other project is a small custom home in which the client sought a significant glass component. We had to use both glass and frames sparingly to accommodate the budget. Considerations were made for how the glass and building materials interact with the natural environment. Frame spacing proved to be absolutely critical. The lot, being extremely dense and wooded, will create an interesting randomness in the foreground during the winter months. Contrasting a rational, proportionately spaced frame against the chaos of nature’s tree limbs proved more art than architecture. Furthermore, because the entire façade is not glass, we paid great attention to the locations of frames and intersections of storefront frames to walls.

Office Ron Kwaske, Architect finds the Curtain Wall tool to be user-friendly, fast, and capable of helping us better study the 3D models of our projects. We can adapt our designs easily and quickly. It is just one more feature, characteristic of Vectorworks software, that enhances our ability to do a great job for our clients.

For more information about the Curtain Wall tool, check out the Vectorworks Getting Started Guides.




While great architecture comes from the minds of visionary designers, outside factors can also influence the creative processes – especially in a country caught amid two hundred years of massive social, political, and economic upheaval. That’s why the next installment of the Art in Architecture Continuing Education webinar series, “Four French Architects You Should Know – Eiffel, Prouvé, Perrault, and Ricciotti,” explores not only on these designers’ works, but also how the world around them influenced their most iconic structures. Cultural roots, the works of their predecessors, emerging technologies, and social challenges all impact the structures that Eiffel, Prouvé, Perrault, and Ricciotti have designed, shaping the France that we know today.

To fully explore the work of these four French designers, watch the Art in Architecture webinar. And don’t forget to take the associated quiz to earn 1 AIA LU.

We’re happy to announce that this year’s list of nominees for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award includes a host of projects designed with Vectorworks software. Presented every two years, the award is the highest, most prestigious honor bestowed on European designers for excellence in their field coupled with their efforts to develop new ideas and technologies. Find some inspiration for your next project by checking out these visionary creations:


Fire Station Berendrecht
Photo by Filip Dujardin


Polyvalent Theater, Lille
Photo by Philippe Ruault


Museum for Architectural Drawing
Photo by Patricia Parinejad


Ilhavo Maritime Museum Extension
Photo by FG SG Fotografia de Arquitectura


The Netherlands:

Townhall Borsele
Photo by Ulrich Schwarz

The United Kingdom:

House at Camusdarach Sands
Photo by David Barbour

Keep an eye out for more great work to come from these innovative firms, and visit the Mies Arch website to learn about all 420 of this year’s nominees.

Are you a current undergrad student or emerging professional who graduated in 2010 or later? Would you like to attend PLANET Student Career Days, USITT’s Annual Conference & Stage Expo, or LAbash 2015 without having to pay the registration fee? Now you can! Just enter our Conference Pass Giveaway by February 2, 2015, and you could be a winner.

Entrants must be at least 18 years old, complete an entry form and short essay, as well as “like” Vectorworks on Facebook. Winners will be selected based on the creativity of their entries and be notified by email on Feb. 6, 2015. Prize packages include a free conference pass and hotel room for the length of the chosen conference.

“For students trying to break into the professional world, networking and exposure are everything,” says Nemetschek Vectorworks Chief Marketing Officer Stewart Rom. “That’s why we’re committed to programs and partnerships that enable student achievement. Whether gathering information to improve a thesis, gaining confidence about their career choices or simply propelling their skills forward, winners benefit from the chance to learn about new and exciting things happening in their field and network with leading industry professionals.”

Enter today on our Conference Pass Giveaway page, and bookmark the site to stay informed about additional opportunities to win conference passes and hotel stays throughout 2015. Also, be sure to visit our Academic Community page to learn about other ways we support students, including free software downloads.

In an increasingly youth-oriented world, obsessed with physical perfection, interior designer and artist Niloufar Lamakan explores the concepts of beauty and aging in her upcoming “Fade” exhibition. Fade, which will run from January 26 to the 31 at the Clerkenwell Gallery in London, challenges the notion that life begins with youth and vibrancy and fades into invisible grayness. Inspired by the unexpected behavior of color combinations, Lamakan is concerned with how people interact with color at different stages of life.

“I use the visual language of color to examine my own internal struggle with understanding what is age appropriate versus exercising the freedom to be myself regardless of age,” says Lamakan. “Fade questions conflicting feelings toward society’s rules for beauty and aging. Is bright always better than faded? There can be beauty of a different kind in faded colors and textures.”

Lamakan uses her interior design tools, including Vectorworks software, and fabrics and wallpaper to produce her digital art and prints. During the exhibition showcase on January 29, Vectorworks Technical Specialist Kesoon Chance will demonstrate how the software can enhance the creative process of interior designers. Chance works for Computers Unlimited, the Vectorworks software distributor in the United Kingdom.

To see more of Lamakan’s award-winning work and learn about her distinctive approach to art and design, visit her website, and don’t forget to sign up to receive a free ticket to the Fade exhibition.

The worldwide rollout of Vectorworks 2015 software has hit Japan, with A&A Co., the local Vectorworks distributor, hosting launch events in six major cities across the country to introduce designers to this year’s new features.

“We are showing designers all over Japan how Vectorworks software has evolved to enable them to improve their workflows and bring their ideas to reality,” says Eiichi Kawase, president of A&A Co., Ltd. “The software’s integral focus on inviting users to discover new possibilities really speaks to everyone who experiences the new release.”

“We sensed a strong enthusiasm for the new release, which is great to see because Japan is our largest market and boasts our biggest concentration of large-seat firms—many with hundreds or thousands of licenses each,” says Sean Flaherty, CEO of Nemetschek Vectorworks, who traveled to Japan with colleague and Architect Product Specialist Jeffrey Ouellette, Assoc. AIA, IES, to connect with software users attending the launch events. Flaherty says that designers who came out to test drive the features in Vectorworks 2015 were particularly excited about the Deform tool, the new gradient options, enhancements to the text editing options, and the seamless, visual transition from 2D to 3D views thanks to the Vectorworks Graphics Module.

To learn more about the new features in this year’s release of Vectorworks software visit the 2015 website, and check out Vectorworks International to find your local distributor.

It’s that time again! Get ready to make the most of your Vectorworks software with two new tech tips videos on our YouTube channel.

In this first video, learn about the new preferences we’ve added to the Default Render mode and Projection options, so that you can customize view settings and save time.

Next, you already know that Vectorworks software gives you the ability to import PDF documents, which can contain a lot of information such as images, fonts, and vector objects. This video shows you how to extract some of these objects.

As always, if you have any technical questions, please contact us at or @VectorworksHelp on Twitter. We also encourage you to subscribe to our YouTube channel.

While a New Year’s resolution to go to the gym regularly might be tricky to keep, we’re making it easy to commit to earning your required Continuing Education credits. In fact, we recently partnered with Architectural Record to produce “A Placemaking Approach to Design.” Available online and in the December 2014 print version of the magazine, this article delves into the mindsets of today’s forward-thinking designers who have made it their mission to plan sites that serve today’s needs and those of generations to come: a concept known as intelligent urbanism.

Image by Diego Bermudez

New York-based architecture firm LEVENBETTS, Australian landscape architecture and urban design firm McGregor Coxall, and University of Pennsylvania graduate student and Richard Diehl Scholarship Award winner Diego Bermudez have all created projects that are perfect examples of this design philosophy. Their modeled sites in New Orleans, Sydney, and Circasia, Columbia, respectively, all incorporate their locations’ unique ecological, economic, and social features to deal with current problems, as well as preemptively address future concerns. By understanding how these issues factor into a given site and its possible growth, you can improve your design ability while earning Continuing Education credits.

Read more about placemaking approaches to design and take the associated test to earn your Continuing Education credit on the Architectural Record website.

By Edwin Espinoza, Landscape Architecture Intern at Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc.

As a recent landscape architecture student at the University of Maryland, I took several courses about the various aspects of site design. Learning how to use CAD programs to communicate designs was naturally a big part of my education. Unfortunately, the university only offered AutoCAD-specific courses, so when I began my internship at Nemetschek Vectorworks, I didn’t know much about the Vectorworks line of software. However, that quickly changed because of how easy it was to use, and it’s now my preferred tool for design. Here are 3 reason’s why you, too, will find Vectorworks software easy to use:

1. Efficiency

  • Students and professionals are always working on a deadline. Vectorworks simplifies the design process in both 2D and 3D. It’s possible to work in both modes dynamically, which saves a lot of time.
  • It’s easy to present realistic visuals to clients. You can import geographic information system (GIS) data to create a digital terrain model of your site design.
  • Vectorworks software’s vast import capabilities make it super efficient for integrating design elements from other files including images, PDFs, DWGs, IFC, Rhino, etc.

Rendering by Edwin Espinoza

2. Flexibility

  • Vectorworks offers preset views to show what a design looks like from multiple viewpoints. It also allows you to create a section viewport from your drawing.
  • It comes installed with default plant symbols, as well as many other symbols for every field of design in various colors, shapes, and sizes.
  • Renderworks, an add-on available with any Vectorworks product, offers numerous rendering options to fit your specific style, ranging from a sketchy look to a more photorealistic one.

3. Customization Options

  • If you have a detailed design workflow, Vectorworks allows you to create a library of customized symbols.
  • You can use free-form modeling tools to create any shape you can dream up, and then push/pull, twist, or deform it to design something new.
  • The Heliodon tool lets you adjust data like the region, city, dates, and time to display the sun and shade patterns on your site. You can also create a solar animation to really bring your design to life.
  • The combination of the Site Model and related Site Modifier tools let you adjust the elevations and slopes on site designs, and they do the analytical work for you by displaying slope ranges and water flow, while also calculating cut and fill volumes from your changes.

Adjusting to new design software seems intimidating at first, but that anxiety is quickly replaced with an efficient workflow that allows you to create whatever you can imagine. If you haven’t already experienced Vectorworks software, request a free 30-day trial version. Also, check out our Getting Started Guides. Offered in both video and PDF formats for all Vectorworks modules such as Landmark and Fundamentals, these guides provide tips and tricks, as well as short, project-based tutorials, so you can jump right in to designing with Vectorworks. Have fun exploring!

By Christina Speiden, Director at ProBuilt Construction, Inc.

“I’m having a hard time visualizing it.” Sound familiar? I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s one of the top-five comments homeowners make when referencing a deck you’ve designed for their home. So if you aren’t visually “wowing” clients during the sales and design process, you’re going to have a hard time staying competitive in the deck-building industry.

Rendering by ProBuilt Construction, Inc.

So how can technology help you “wow” customers? My suggestion is to make your renderings as visually inspiring as possible to attract customers to your business. At ProBuilt Construction, Inc., we accomplish this by utilizing Vectorworks software with the DeckWorks plug-in by Trex® to generate floor plans and 3D renderings to go along with our estimates and contracts. Some deck contractors may see this as unnecessary fluff in the selling process. I can relate. I once had a homeowner request a drawing for interior decorative casing trim around an arched opening in their home. I had our carpenter, who draws and paints art as a hobby, hand sketch a drawing of the area with a front view and side profile of the trim. It was beautiful. I shared it with the homeowner, thinking how lucky this client was to have a custom hand drawing for his home. He responded by saying he didn’t understand the drawing. But when we drew the area in the computer using the DeckWorks plug-in for Vectorworks and presented it to him as a 3D rendering, he said, “Ah! Now I understand.”

Rendering by ProBuilt Construction, Inc.

This is where being “tech-savvy” can be advantageous. Contractors who use technology to help their businesses become more efficient and productive can make their sales presentations clearer to their clients. I cannot express how much offering CAD design has changed our company’s sales and production process for the better. As a complement to Vectorworks software’s modeling and smart worksheet capabilities, the DeckWorks plug-in provides all the symbols, colors, textures, and objects that a contractor could need to design a customer’s outdoor living space using the Trex product line. Plus, the newly released DeckWorks 2.0 features steel deck framing, aluminum railing systems, and even more colors.

I’ve learned that the added benefit of providing 3D renderings to clients is that they can sign off on the design, approving colors, spatial dimensions, and options selected. This not only helps us to differentiate ourselves from our competitors and close sales, but it also drives field efficiency and provides great marketing material once the project is completed.

To learn more about the DeckWorks plug-in, visit Nemetschek Vectorworks’ Partner Products page.