Whether you’re traveling by car, plane, train, or even hoverboard this holiday season, we have a great lineup of podcasts to refuel your imagination. And if you’re staying closer to home, don’t worry, these inspirational episodes are the perfect way to gain new perspectives on design no matter where you are.

From left to right, Architects Steve Alden, Dylan Chappell, Michael Timcheck, and Ali Honarkar, Business of Creativity participants

From left to right, Architects Steve Alden, Dylan Chappell, Michael Timcheck, and Ali Honarkar, some of our Business of Creativity participants

The Business of Creativity: Staying Creative in Your Firm
Whether making decisions about which projects to accept, driving a project’s evolution, or delivering a design they’re proud to put their names on, architects balance it all. Is it easy? Certainly not. Listen to how three architects deliver on these requirements to end up with more than just a predictable solution. Participants: Steve Alden, AIA, NCARB, Architect, Vectorworks, Inc.; Ali Honarkar, Owner, Division1 Architects; Michael Timcheck, AIA, Director, The M Group Architects + Interior Architects; and Dylan Chappell, AIA, Architect, Dylan Chappell Architects

The Business of Creativity: Expanding the Territory of Design with BIM, Part 1
BIM isn’t just about the integrity of coordinated architectural documentation; it is a platform for elevating your creative expression. Learn from two renowned architects as they discuss their philosophies about BIM and the building arts. Participants: Richard Garber, AIA, Partner, GRO Architects, Director, NJIT School of Architecture and François Lévy, AIA, Principal, Lévy Kohlhaas Architecture

The Business of Creativity: Expanding the Territory of Design with BIM, Part 2
Listen in as architects turned authors share insights about design, building technology, and the state of architectural education. Their perspectives combine to reveal surprising conclusions about the impact of technology on creativity. Participants: Richard Garber, AIA, Partner, GRO Architects, Director, NJIT School of Architecture and François Lévy, AIA, Principal, Lévy Kohlhaas Architecture

The Business of Creativity: New School Architecture?
The spatial attributes of an educational institution can have a profound effect on the quality of the learning experience. Learn how to approach design for education’s sake as two architects discuss everything from the school’s location within a community to how the layout of classrooms, hallways, and central functions must be considered in order to achieve an environment that promotes academic success. Participants: Stan Rostas, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP BD+C, Founding Principal at Shook Kelley and Chad Hamilton, AIA, LEED AP, Principal at Hamilton+Aitken Architects

Want more? Check out our Inspiration page for continuing education webinars and the full Business of Creativity videos, and read case studies about firms transforming the world with Vectorworks software.

Creating world-changing technology isn’t the sole responsibility of scientists; architects have the ability to change the world with their creativity, as well. Just ask Greg Henderson, founder of Arx Pax, LLC, who enlisted his passion for innovation and his skill with design software to pioneer Magnetic Field Architecture (MFA™) technology, leading to the creation of modern marvels like the Hendo Hoverboard.


The Hendo Hoverboard

“Whenever you change the status quo as an architect, the real challenge is overcoming the human resistance to change,” Henderson says. “People, even family members, told me that if Magnetic Field Architecture was a good idea, someone else would already be doing it. But innovators, by their very nature, have to be misunderstood.”

Tony Hawk tries out the Hendo Hoverboard.

Tony Hawk tries out the Hendo Hoverboard.

Henderson’s plans for MFA go far beyond hoverboards. In fact, he envisions that this technology will someday be used to hover entire buildings, keeping people safe from Mother Nature’s bad days.

Greg Henderson and his wife Jill, co-founders of Arx Pax, LLC

Greg Henderson and his wife Jill, co-founders of Arx Pax, LLC

To read more about Henderson, the Hendo Hoverboard, and how Arx Pax plans to change the future of the built environment, check out the full case study.

“Right now there’s a whole lot of innovation happening in the way people teach,” says Chad Hamilton, AIA, LEED AP, principal at Hamilton + Aitken Architects. “And it’s really interesting as an architect to contribute to that and to learn about it.” Watch Hamilton and Stanley Rostas, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP BD+C, founding principal at Shook Kelley, in this 30-minute discussion about the opportunities and challenges involved in designing spaces for students in the latest installment of the Business of Creativity video series, New School Architecture.


Hamilton and Rostas both agree that while meeting the needs of educators and administrators is important, the true test of a school’s design is whether or not it inspires the students who are interacting with that environment. “It’s always fascinating when you get kids in the room and start talking to them about their idealized classroom,” says Rostas. “Sometimes it’s not even a classroom they want; they just want a big playground.”

Dive deeper into the discussion by watching the full video on our Inspiration page, and join the conversation by sharing your thoughts with @Vectorworks using #DiscussDesign.

Whether you’re attending the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Washington, D.C. this weekend or not, we bet that designing “green” is often on your mind. That’s why we’ve collected some thoughts from leading architects and landscape architects to inspire you as you incorporate sustainable thinking into your workflow.

“Architecture was originally all about responding to the local environment and climate. Classic styles of architecture are in fact the result of generations of trial and error responding to a series of local challenges, the biggest one usually being climate. The challenge today is to take the best parts of historic, sustainable design and merge them with modern conveniences.”

-Nate Kipnis, FAIA, LEED BD+C, Founder and Principal of Kipnis Architecture + Planning

Check out Kipnis’ full case study, here.

Kipnis Architecture + Planning's Sturgeon Bay Home

Kipnis Architecture + Planning’s Sturgeon Bay Home. Photograph (C) 2014 Wayne Cable, www.waynecable.com.

“For our society to become more sustainable, it has to happen from the bottom up. We have to spread the word among students, as well as educate the people at home about how sustainability affects them. We can’t keep expecting the government and big industries to make changes if we won’t.”

-Adele Ashkar, FASLA, Professor and Director of the Sustainable Landscapes Program at George Washington University

Read more about Ashkar’s recent elevation to ASLA Fellow for her work in education and sustainability, here.

Ashkar's GroW Community Plan for the area surrounding George Washington University

Ashkar’s GroW Community Plan for the area surrounding George Washington University. Image courtesy of Adele Ashkar.

“The passive and active energy strategies appropriate to an architectural design are expressions of the climate it inhabits. The most direct way to determine the effectiveness of a given strategy or which design approach to use is to pull data from your model. I use a custom rainwater harvesting tool that calculates the optimum rainwater tank size for a given project based on derived roof area and rainfall data. Similarly, I use a worksheet tool to calculate approximate airflow for a thermal chimney, passive ventilation, and cooling based on the stack effect.”

-François Lévy, AIA, Author and Partner, Lévy Kohlhaas Architecture

Explore Lévy’s use of Vectorworks Architect software to create more energy-efficient buildings, here.

Lévy's design for Hope House

Lévy’s design for Hope House. Image courtesy of Lévy Kohlhaas Architecture.

“I’m passionate about the challenges that human beings are facing globally in terms of our environment, and I want to help cities grow in a sustainable way. Cities are in a rapid state of change that is as big as the Industrial Revolution. The software we use has to be intelligent in terms of our carbon footprint modeling. With intelligent BIM, smart symbols, and coordinated worksheets, Vectorworks software gives us the ability to make this happen.”

-Adrian McGregor, Managing Director of McGregor Coxall

Learn more about McGregor’s urban planning and landscape design work by reading his case study, here.

McGregor Coxall's Parramatta River Urban Design Strategy

McGregor Coxall’s Parramatta River Urban Design Strategy. Image courtesy of McGregor Coxall.

If you’re in the D.C. area this weekend, stop by our booth (#3721) to learn how Vectorworks software can help you make sustainability a priority in your design process. While at our booth, catch a demo of our software’s new Energos tool, which provides an integrated gauge of a building’s energy efficiency, grab some free Vectorworks gear, and enter to win a Dahon Vybe D7 folding bike. Hope to see you there!

We’ve told you all about the new features in Vectorworks 2016 over the last few months, but as the proud creators of this new line of design software, we may be a little biased. That’s why we wanted to share an unbiased review by John Helm, architect and co-founder of Helm & Melacini Architects, who used his 30+ years of experience in the industry to test the value of Vectorworks 2016’s new features and updates.

architect-slider_enCheck out some of what Helm has to say about subdivision surface modeling, one of 2016’s new tools: “No it’s not for modeling your latest tract house subdivision project. Take any shape and manipulate it until you have created that impossible to build shape that will get you fired either by your client or your boss. But hey! how much fun did you have doing it? I imagine Zaha Hadid wishes she had a copy of Vectorworks 2016…maybe she does…?”

508x253_vwarch-2016Read more insights like these when you check out the full review on architosh, a leading Internet magazine for CAD and 3D professionals and students worldwide.

Adele Ashkar isn’t your typical landscape architect. Her career path has taken her from working full time at a practice to becoming a respected educator to designing pro bono public projects. Through it all, she carried with her a passion for design and a dedication to sustainability that was recognized at last weekend’s ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO where she was elevated to ASLA’s Council of Fellows.

Starting out as a landscape architect at the global design firm HOK, Ashkar soon found it difficult to balance her professional aspirations and her growing family. Her temporary solution to this challenge ended up shifting her career path.

“I ended up in education almost by mistake,” says Ashkar. “I was drawn into teaching as a part-time job while I was raising a family. I thought I would just do it for a bit to keep active professionally, but it turned out to be incredibly rewarding, and so eventually I became an academic full time at George Washington University (GW).”

Ashkar discusses students' landscape designs with her class.

Ashkar discusses students’ landscape designs with her class.

And in an ironic turn of events, Ashkar’s shift in her career has led her into teaching nontraditional students who are often making a big change in their professional lives, as well. “Teaching adult students is both a challenge and a joy. Whether they’re seeking to enhance their skill set for their current jobs or transition to entirely new ones, they’re all highly committed and very excited about making a change. And these nontraditional students become nontraditional employees, adding a whole new demographic with new perspectives to the landscape industry.”

Training the next generation of landscape designers isn’t the only way Ashkar contributes to the industry, as her move into the field of education brought opportunities outside the realm of teaching. When she joined the faculty at George Washington, Ashkar was one of the first landscape professionals on staff. With the support of a new university president who is interested in sustainability, she’s impacted both the school’s campus and the community.

Ashlar's planning document for the GroW Community Garden at George Washington University

Ashkar’s planning document for the university’s GroW Community Garden

“When GW President Steven Knapp first brought up the topic of sustainability, he was speaking more along the lines of energy conservation and carbon sequestration, rather than ecological resilience,” says Ashkar. “But his initial push allowed my ideas to blossom about the importance of landscape architecture and stewardship of the land, which was something completely new to the university.” Under Ashkar’s guidance as the director of the Sustainable Landscapes program, GW has taken on many new sustainable projects, including one of the pilot projects for the SITES program. “We took a parking lot on a city block and turned it into a park with stormwater harvesting, pervious paving, and native plants; it was both great for the community and a great way to help my students understand why those things are important concepts in design.”

Such projects are the norm for Ashkar, who routinely partners with other faculty members and groups of students to work on pro bono projects centered on sustainability, reflecting her belief that sustainability needs to be a grassroots movement in order to change the world.

George Washington University's SITES landscape

GW’s SITES landscape

“For our society to become more sustainable, it has to happen from the bottom up,” Ashkar says. “We have to spread the word among students at the university, as well as educate the people at home about how sustainability affects them. We can’t keep expecting the government and big industries to make changes if we won’t.”

To that point, Ashkar believes that the future of landscape architecture is in understanding ecology. “The term sustainability is already becoming a buzzword and losing meaning,” she says. “Learning about native plants as ecological communities and understanding how plants function together to support the environment is at the core of creating sustainable landscapes.” And with its extensive plant database and worksheet tools that allow for in-depth rainwater analyses, Ashkar sees Vectorworks Landmark software as a tool that helps to further her dreams for the industry. “I like the software a lot, and we’ve begun teaching it to our students. We’ve even started moving toward making it a requirement for landscape design students to learn. Everyone who has taken classes on it so far has said, ‘oh my gosh, I wish I’d learned this years ago.’”

Congratulations to Ashkar on her elevation to FASLA. If you couldn’t be there to meet this year’s fellows for yourself, be sure to check out our profiles on the incredible work of other Vectorworks users also elevated last weekend, Mary Bates and Chip Trageser.

As a designer, you’re always on the lookout for ways to more clearly express your vision for the built environment, and at Vectorworks, we’re always making tools to help you reach this goal. That’s what inspired the creation of subdivision surface modeling, a technique based on Pixar Animation Studios’ OpenSubdiv library that allows you to push, pull, mold, and manipulate objects into any form imaginable. Ready to get started? Check out these introductory training videos and take your first steps into the world of subdivision surfaces.

This first video introduces the basics of subdivision modeling, a process where you take a primitive object and use a polygonal mesh to transform it into a unique shape.


In the second video, you’ll explore the different modes of the Edit Subdivision tool, which allow you to more fully explore the possibilities of your designs.


Video three wraps up the basics of getting started with the Edit Subdivision tool and walks you step-by-step through a tutorial for modeling a real object using this new feature.


In the fourth video, you will refine the object you created in the previous tutorial, further improving your abilities with subdivision surfaces.


Video five explores more applications of the Edit Subdivision tool by helping you create a model of the iconic Panton Chair.


In the final video, you will learn all of the ways that you can convert objects created with subdivision surfaces into other types of geometry, so that you can combine them with 3D objects that you’ve already created and are using in your designs.


Now that you’ve got the basics down, have fun exploring the possibilities with subdivision surface modeling. And as always, if you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to us at tech@vectorworks.net or tweet us @VectorworksHelp. If you want to learn more about the other new features available in the latest release of Vectorworks software, check out the Vectorworks 2016 page.

Nick Whitehouse creates shows for artists like Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, and Britney Spears, and even though he designs for some of the biggest names in the music industry, his approach to lighting is focused on the little things. “When designers compete to be the brightest in every show, people’s eyes get tired,” he says. “You have to take a step back and let the artist shine.” With this artist-centric design philosophy, forward-thinking techniques, and the help of Vectorworks Spotlight software, Whitehouse has made a name for himself as a chart-topper in the world of entertainment.

Ralph Larmann photo

Ralph Larmann photo

From his beginnings as a college stage-tech to a career as an international lighting designer, Whitehouse has carried a love of music and performance with him wherever he goes, saying, “Music is central to what I do, and I love that what I contribute helps people enjoy a band or artist that they’re seeing even more.”

Image courtesy of Nick Whitehouse

Image courtesy of Nick Whitehouse

Learn more about Whitehouse and how he almost missed the opportunity to work with Justin Timberlake on our Success Stories webpage.

Ralph Larmann photo

Ralph Larmann photo

By Stephen Schrader, PLA, ASLA, Associate Landscape Architect at Holcombe Norton Partners, Inc.

When it comes to giving your clients exactly what they want, providing options is key. You want to make sure that you show them all of the different possibilities for their landscape design that meet their aesthetic expectations, within their budget, of course. At Holcombe Norton Partners, this philosophy plays into our workflows for all our projects, which range from small residential designs to large-scale land planning and higher education campus projects.

Student Wellness Center Photo Courtesy of Holcombe Norton Partners

Student Wellness Center
Photo Courtesy of Holcombe Norton Partners

When time allows, I like coming up with wildly different ideas. I still do a lot of initial design by hand, and then import my sketches directly into Vectorworks Landmark to refine and test ideas. My design process has always been very iterative, and with improvements in Landmark 2016, I’m able to explore each of my projects further than before.

For me, one of the best updates in the new Landmark release isn’t any big, singular new feature; rather, it’s upgrades to tools that I use every day, making them more accessible, and easier to use, so that I can get the most out of my time spent designing. For example, there is a lot more information available in the Object Info Palette, shortening the time it takes me to do a lot of my basic design actions, which in turn allows me to create more design options. The Site Modifier tool is also improved, thanks to upgrades that make it quicker to access and a lot easier to use as a part of my normal workflow. I like that I can place lines or shapes on a site’s terrain that I intend to level as a contour or pad, and with the new options in the Site Modifier Mode Bar, I can quickly decide which option to choose and easily set the needed parameters for elevations thanks to a more informative display. Plus, I can more readily test and evaluate the effects of my design decisions. Overall, Landmark 2016 is developed in a way that makes the fundamental tasks of landscape design more intuitive.

Hardscape Study Image Courtesy of Holcombe Norton Partners

Hardscape Study
Image Courtesy of Holcombe Norton Partners

And the best part is that since work has been so busy, I’ve not even had time to explore all the new features. The Hardscape tool has a lot of great improvements that I’m excited to try out, especially the ability to set slopes, which is something I would have had to do manually with NURBS-based objects in the past. That highlights a great thing about Vectorworks — that they’re always making improvements based on things that we really need. They understand the landscape industry —  from the actual work we are trying to accomplish to the ways we want to communicate our ideas — and translate that understanding into useful and accessible technology. I’m kind of a tech nerd, so having the latest and greatest in terms of software is something I enjoy. That’s why I’m also looking forward to exploring features like Project Sharing and modeling with Subdivision Surfaces, and seeing how I can incorporate those into my design process and production workflows.

For the past decade, lighting, film, TV, exhibit, concert, theatre, and other designers have exported their light plots, scenic designs, and event models created with Vectorworks Spotlight software to ESP Vision to cue and visualize award-winning experiences. With our recent acquisition of the ESP Vision product line, which includes Vision Pro, the most advanced lighting pre-visualization software available for both PC and Mac operating systems, we’ve created a path to further enable such workflow collaboration.


“This purchase fortifies Vectorworks’ global market leadership position and signals our continuous commitment to the entertainment design industry at a time when visualization capabilities are becoming a more mission-critical, cost-effective means of cueing a show in advance,” says Stewart Rom, Vectorworks’ chief marketing officer. “Bringing Vision into the Vectorworks product portfolio places the integration of its pre-visualization capabilities on the Spotlight software roadmap.”


Vectorworks will continue to support ESP Vision’s existing customers. In addition, Vision’s technical team will  join forces with our development and support group to further develop integrated tools that serve professionals involved in the design and production of live events and exhibitions.

“It’s an exciting time for Vision and Vectorworks Spotlight software users, as the industry standard in lighting design documentation now also owns the highest-quality pre-visualization software in the industry,” said Alan “AJ” Jesse, director of support at ESP Vision. “Our companies have thrived when working together over the past few years, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for these two products.”

main_VisionProFrom October 23 through October 25, you can get the inside scoop on our news at booth #369 at the 2015 Live Design International (LDI) conference in Las Vegas. ESP Vision staff will be joining us at #LDI2015 to talk about the announcement and showcase our collaborative product capabilities. There will also be plenty to learn at our booth with intriguing sessions by Emmy Award-winning, industry-celebrated designers. You’ll not only discover more about our acquisition, but delve into #Vectorworks2016, explore interesting case studies, and take away practical, workflow-enhancing tips. Additionally, we’ll be giving away free t-shirts, mugs, and even a free trip to the 2016 Vectorworks Design Summit!