We love talking to our users — whether it’s over social media, on the community board, during a firm visit, or even during a 1-on-1 software demo. It helps us to discover what drives our users’ passion for design, how we can better help them succeed, and what they love most about our software. That’s why we decided to reward three lucky designers with a complimentary trip to attend the 2016 Vectorworks Design Summit in Chicago for simply engaging with us on social media.

Our three trip winners (L-R), Jonas Witte, Amanda Warren, and Mitchell Elliott at the 2016 Vectorworks Design Summit

Our three trip winners (L-R), Jonas Witte, Amanda Warren, and Mitchell Elliott at the 2016 Vectorworks Design Summit

Since their trip to the Windy City in April, we’ve been eager to explore their top takeaways from the event and learn about their next steps within the world of design. Let’s explore what our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook winners had to say about the conference.

Our Instagram Winner: Jonas Witte of Berlin, Germany

For Jonas Witte, a grad student at Erfurt University of Applied Sciences who will finish his degree in August, this trip was not only a perfectly timed networking event but also an invaluable opportunity to further improve his already awe-inspiring rendering skills. As such, two of his favorite Summit sessions were naturally “Rendering for Success” and “Rendering Tips, Tricks, and Other Cool Stuff.”

Examples of Witte’s work

Examples of Witte’s work

One of Witte’s most exciting discoveries at the Summit was Energos, the powerful, integrated tool in Vectorworks software that gives real-time feedback on a design’s energy efficiency. “Discovering Energos will prove very useful for my future design career,” Witte says. “It’s a great tool for even beginner students to learn how to master sustainable design.”

While there were obvious workflow and networking benefits to his attendance, it was also an important experience for him as it was both his first time in the United States and his first flight ever!

Witte (far right) is shown on a Chicago architectural tour with (L-R) CEO Bonggill “Alvin” Chu and Assistant Manager Maxim Hahm of Live-Lab Lighting and Visual Expression Laboratory, our Korean distribution partner.

Witte (far right) is shown on a Chicago architectural tour with (L-R) CEO Bonggill “Alvin” Chu and Assistant Manager Maxim Hahm of Live-Lab Lighting and Visual Expression Laboratory, our Korean distribution partner.

Currently, Witte works for the office of Architekturbüro Ebersberger in Erfurt and hopes to continue working there after his graduation. In the future, Witte dreams of setting up his own architecture office in Switzerland or Austria near the Swiss Alps, which inspire his designs.

Our Twitter Winner: Mitchell Elliott of Alberta, Canada

As a long-time Vectorworks software user, Elliott was beyond thrilled to attend the Summit. He operates as a solo-practitioner, so he admits that one of the major benefits of attending was the opportunity to see how others are using the software and pick up new tricks from their workflows.

Elliott’s commitment is made apparent by his vast collection of Vectorworks software guides from over the years.

Elliott’s commitment is made apparent by his vast collection of Vectorworks software guides from over the years.

“Once an office develops standards for their design practice, everyone falls into step and new aspects of the software can be ignored,” Elliott said. “Attending the Summit allowed me to look over the shoulders of other users and discover several new approaches to using the software.”

Elliott comically referred to himself as an “old dog” eager to learn some new tricks in his entry tweet, which proved to be true. When asked about the most valuable thing he learned at the Summit, Elliott said, “There isn’t just one answer. I learned a number of things that are useful at different stages of a project. At the moment, one of my favorite things I picked up is that you can right click for the contextual menu, then click ‘Create Similar Object,’ which has been a very nice timesaver.”

The most surprising benefit of attending the Summit, Elliot claims, was the ability to explore the Art Institute of Chicago during the Customer Appreciation Party. After all, what originally drove Elliott to become a designer was his fascination with all aspects of building and construction, so he appreciated the museum’s stunning design and plethora of inspirational art.

Elliott with Teri Young of Paxar Tech, one of the Vectorworks distributors in Canada, at the Art Institute of Chicago for the Customer Appreciation Party.

Elliott with Teri Young of Paxar Tech, one of the Vectorworks distributors in Canada, at the Art Institute of Chicago for the Customer Appreciation Party.

In the future, he hopes to start incorporating Passive House standards into his projects with the help of Energos as he thinks “energy efficiency is going to be an increasingly important component in future projects.”

Our Facebook Winner: Amanda Warren of Nacogdoches, Texas

As a recent Stephen F. Austin State University theatre design graduate, Warren was set to begin her professional career at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine on the electrics crew in early May. Her preparations for the big move from Texas to Maine were underway when she found out she would be attending the Summit, a perfectly timed precursor the week before beginning her post-graduate life.

While Warren says she won’t stop chasing her dream of working in lighting design, she confessed her favorite part of the Summit was the wide variety of sessions offered. “I was astonished by the vast amount of things Vectorworks software is capable of, both within the theatre design industry and outside of it, such as architectural work.”

Otherwise, she particularly favored the entertainment design sessions, as well as the fact that there was always something going on and always something to learn.

One thing she wasn’t expecting was getting to meet the “father” of Vectorworks Spotlight software, our Product Marketing Manager – Entertainment Frank Brault.

Brault and Warren snapped a selfie at the Design Summit.

Brault and Warren snapped a selfie at the Design Summit.

In the future, Warren hopes to continue building on her experience in the entertainment industry and eventually become a professor. “I believe being able to inspire someone and give them opportunities to grow is an invaluable gift,” she says.

As a recent graduate, Warren also had some great advice for young designers, “Don’t be afraid to go for it! The worst-case scenario is that someone says no, and then you just move on,” Warren says. “That’s how I found myself in the wonderful situation of attending the Vectorworks Design Summit!”

Future Giveaways

We hope you’re not too upset that you didn’t win a free Vectorworks Design Summit trip, but there’s always another giveaway coming. Make sure you follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, so you don’t miss out on other awesome freebies.

P.S. If you’re looking for some time in the limelight, we also love featuring our users’ designs to reward them for engaging with us! For a chance to get your work highlighted, use #VectorworksFeatureMe in your next social media post.

From churches, theatres, and schools to corporate events, concerts, and music festivals, the demand for exceptional previsualization software to cue shows and perfect experiences is at an all-time high. So to help these growing and varying needs, we’re offering a more cost-effective pricing structure for Vision, our previz software.

Vision Blog Image Previz Rendering“We’ve seen a trend in the market where lighting designers are needing more and more Universes to support the growing number and complexity of lighting fixtures in a show,” said Vectorworks Chief Marketing Officer Stewart Rom. “This new pricing structure will further empower lighting designers and programmers to purchase Vision at a more affordable price point that matches the demands of the venue and performance no matter their size.”

With Vision, you can preview the look of a performance before even setting foot in the venue. Previz not only saves both money and time, but it also allows you to make modifications in advance with ease, enabling a more efficient workflow.

Our three new Vision pricing tiers include:

  • VISION: 1 Universe costs $395 (previously cost $750)
  • VISION PLUS: 4 Universes cost $1,295 (previously cost $3,000)
  • VISION UNLIMITED: Unlimited Universes cost $1,995 (previously cost $7,500)

Already a Vision customer? You’re eligible to upgrade your license to the next tier when you renew your subscription.

Bundled pricing for Vision plus Vectorworks Spotlight software is also available through the end of the year. Purchasers will receive $200 off their selected Vision software tier when purchasing Spotlight at the same time. Our bundled offer allows lighting designers to make the most out of their designs by first generating drawings, paperwork, and 3D models in Spotlight and then moving the models directly into Vision for simulating and cuing their work.

If you’re a student or educator, we are also offering cost-effective options that include $198 for one Universe and $648 for four Universes (previously $495 per Universe for educators and $249 for one Universe for students over one year).

And pricing isn’t the only development for Vision. We recently released Vision 4, with notable improvements that include:

  • Enriched rendering performance that increases Frames Per Second (FPS) for a smoother previsualization experience
  • Enhanced rendering quality of GOBOS and light beams that provide greater resolution for higher detail visualization of beams in the air
  • Stronger color mixing that creates a more accurate representation of intersecting beams of light for a better visual display

Other improvements and bug fixes can be found in this Community Board post, or you can contact tech@vectorworks.net for more information on these updates.

Visit the web store to purchase your copy of Vision.

Delving into the world of graphical scripting with little to no prior experience can be difficult. That’s where The Proving Ground, a data-driven building consultancy firm, comes in to help show you how it’s done with their “Coding your Nodes: Extending Marionette with Python” webinar, worth one AIA LU.


Designs courtesy of Michelle Lindgren and Caitlin Tangeman

The Proving Ground’s Founder and Managing Director Nathan Miller and the Director of Applied Research David Stasiuk will teach you how to leverage the power of Marionette, the integrated graphical scripting feature introduced in Vectorworks 2016, in your projects to streamline your workflow.

The webinar touches upon current trends in algorithmic design, as well as the real-world applications of Marionette, ways to customize the graphical interface, and the process for extracting the data to create comprehensive documentation of your work.

After you’ve finished watching the webinar, take this test to receive one AIA LU.

From NBA games to corporate events, image projection and 3D technology company Quince Imaging dazzles viewers by mapping vibrant, moving displays onto every surface imaginable. The team at Quince Imaging combines the talents of engineers, media server operators, and motion graphics artists to produce their shows, using Vectorworks Spotlight software to pull it all together.

Learn more about the creative process at Quince Imaging, as well as how design software empowers their workflows, by watching the video below.

After watching, head over to our Case Studies page to explore more stories about designers who do incredible things with Vectorworks software.

Vectorworks has teamed up with the Fundacío Mies van der Rohe to give architecture, urban planning, and landscape design students across Europe an opportunity to gain recognition for creating remarkable experiences. As an extension of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture, the Young Talent Architecture Award (YTAA) is open to European higher education institutions, which must register and nominate their student’s best capstone projects from the 2015-2016 academic year by July 15, 2016 to qualify.

As a company, we take inspiration from visionaries like Mies, who challenged traditional notions of design and left a visible mark on city skylines around the world. That’s why we’re excited to take part in this new program!

The Story Behind the Iconic Architect

To fully benefit from all the knowledge to be gleaned from Mies’ legacy, let’s first take you through the story of his successes and his fundamental views on design.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was born in 1886 in Aachen, the westernmost city in Germany. Though he began his professional life as an apprentice bricklayer, his extraordinary drawing talent earned him recommendations for a number of architecture offices. Early in his career, he worked under esteemed architects John Martens and Bruno Paul in Berlin. At 21-years-old, he designed his first house, the Riehl House, before joining the Berlin-based firm of architect Peter Behrens in 1908. Mies refined his style over the next several decades, eschewing austere, enclosed designs of the time for minimalist designs with large, open spaces.

Fundamental to Mies’ design philosophy, and one of the driving forces behind his iconic use of glass, was the concept of fluid space. He believed that architecture should embody a continuous flow of space, blurring the lines between interior and exterior. The use of glass was essential in making this philosophy a physical reality. In one his most popular buildings, the German Pavilion at the 1929 International Exposition at Barcelona (better known as the Barcelona Pavilion), movable glass and marble partitions created a flexible space that is independent of the structure itself. The building was disassembled in 1930 following the Exposition though architects banded together 50 years later to rebuild the pavilion on its original site.

Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion

Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion

After struggling to find work in a radically changing Germany, Mies immigrated to Chicago in 1937, where he was appointed director of the architecture program at the Illinois Institute of Technology. To this day, the Institute is marked by Mies’ signature style; buildings like the Minerals and Metals Building and the Alumni Hall bear large glass windows and stark steel framing, the trademarks of a Mies-designed structure.

While in America, Mies developed a modernist design style called the Second Chicago School of Architecture, which consisted primarily of high-rise buildings using steel, glass, and open spaces to create minimalistic, functional buildings. Many buildings today owe a debt to Mies’ vision; from ribbon windows to glass and metal skyscrapers, Mies’ influence is salient in many cities, including New York City’s towering Seagram Building on Park Avenue and the Farnsworth House, an almost entirely transparent, one-story house in Illinois reminiscent of the demolished Barcelona Pavilion.

The Farnsworth House in Plano, IL. Photograph by David Wilson.

The Farnsworth House in Plano, IL. Photograph by David Wilson.

Inspired? Get Involved

In Mies’ view, a building should be “a clear and true statement of its times.” While times have changed since Mies made that remark, the next iconic architect who will help shape the industry could be among today’s architecture, urban planning, and landscape design students. If you’re a student, make sure you ask your professor to register your school for the YTAA, which provides students opportunities to build their careers and earn a cash prize. Learn more about the award.

And know that at Vectorworks, we keep visionaries like Mies in mind while developing software to ensure we provide designers with an intuitive solution for comprehensive architectural expression. Learn more about how designers are realizing their visions with Vectorworks software on our Case Studies page.

Your projects will be picture-perfect after this month’s Tech Roundup focusing on CameraMatch, a plug-in that allows you to easily align your 3D models in Vectorworks software with photographs.

But before we dive into using CameraMatch, first check out these two videos to learn how to install the plug-in and add it to your workspace on Windows or Mac.

The successful use of CameraMatch relies on taking and selecting photos that work best with the plug-in. So don’t skip this video as it explains why you should break architecture photography’s cardinal rule of straightening your verticals.

It’s time to get started with the plug-in. Step number one: positioning your CameraMatch reference.

The following video will take you through the basics of placing CameraMatch objects and preview objects.

Now that you have your object set up, you’ll need to fine-tune it to match your view. Learn how to adjust your vanishing points and fix any errors in scale to achieve the match you need.

Once you have your object in its proper position, it’s time to render. In the next few minutes of this series, you’ll discover how to show new geometry and render objects in your view.

To put the final touches on your rendering, explore the tools for masking, cloning, and adding shadows.

If you didn’t follow the rules in the first video — and you picked a photo with a pair of near parallel control lines – fear not. This last video covers an easy solution for matching those tough views.

If you have any questions, reach out to us at tech@vectorworks.net or tweet us at our account @VectorworksHelp.

François Lévy, AIA, is on a mission to change the status quo of BIM use. According to Lévy, who is co-founder of Lévy Kohlhaas Architecture, BIM is too often employed solely for documentation purposes, and the design capabilities of the process are not realized. We talked with Lévy to highlight four tools to leverage in Vectorworks software that make the job of designing for accessible spaces easier and less prone to error.



Symbols are basic but undervalued tools. When designing for accessibility, you can create 2D symbols that check ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance for turn radius, T-turns, clear floor space, etc., when overlaid on your drawing. While helpful in 2D documentation, symbols can also play a significant role in the modeling process. For example, if you’re designing something around a sink in a bathroom, it may be helpful to have a 3D symbol that demonstrates ADA compliance for knee and toe space and reach. By using these types of symbols, you can design for code compliance from the start rather than going back and changing your design to meet standards.



Another underappreciated tool, objects can contribute a great deal to the design process, particularly for accessible design. Vectorworks software comes loaded with libraries full of useful objects like ADA-compliant fixtures, grab bars, ramps, and handrails. You can easily design ramps by editing the object’s parameters to meet the requirements of the application and ADA standards. When designing a ramp, you can then drop in a handrail object and edit its rise to match that of the ramp. The ramp’s upright and horizontal spacing can also be altered in the object parameters, making designing compliant handrails efficient.


Associative Dimensions

Associative dimensions work bi-directionally, meaning that the dimension responds to changes in geometry; conversely, the dimension string can drive changes in the geometry. By drawing an associative dimension string between an object and geometry, the string is stuck to the object, so when you move the object, the dimension changes with it. If dimensions are not ADA-compliant (e.g., you need 18 inches of clear space when you only have 17 inches), you can edit the dimension string to the necessary value and the geometry will make the appropriate adjustments in relation to the object. By allowing associative dimensions, you can turn a tool traditionally used for documentation into a tool for design.


Site Modifiers

When site modeling for accessibility with Vectorworks software, site modifiers and their options make the process painless. A walking surface with a slope greater than five percent, that is not a ramp, is not ADA compliant. The option to display the slope of a pad is a helpful tool in both the design and documentation phase to address this issue, as you can edit these slopes to be compliant and then demonstrate that in your documentation. A common problem for a lot of designers is that surfaces cannot have a cross-slope greater than two percent to meet ADA standards. In addition to the capabilities of editing the slope and elevation of a site modifier, Vectorworks software gives you the capability to edit the the cross-slope, or “Slope B,” allowing designers to easily create slopes and sites that are ADA compliant.

To learn more about the BIM capabilities of Vectorworks software, visit our BIM in Practice page. And now that you’ve read some of Lévy’s insights on accessibility, be sure to register for his upcoming New Technologies webinar, “Introduction to Energy Modeling Using Energos,” on July 28, worth 1 AIA LU.

This past Sunday was the biggest night in theatre as the best and brightest on Broadway took to the stage at the Beacon Theatre in New York to celebrate the 2016 Tony Awards. Vectorworks Spotlight software users took home some of the top design awards of the night. We congratulate these talented designers and will continue to admire their work as they blaze new paths in the world of scenic and lighting design. 

Best Scenic Design of a Play David Zinn for “The Humans”

“The Humans” photo by Joan Marcus

“The Humans” photo by Joan Marcus

David Zinn is a multi-talented designer with a wide body of work both on and off-Broadway, creating not only memorable sets, but also bold costumes that have earned him the attention of a number of critics. Now, Zinn has taken home his first Tony Award for Best Scenic Design of a Play.

For the set for this years’ Tony-winning Best Play “The Humans,” he created a bleak duplex Manhattan apartment which hosts the Blake family’s Thanksgiving dinner. The drama takes place on both of the set’s dreary two floors, which are connected by a metal spiral staircase. In his acceptance speech for the award, Zinn comically thanked Director Joe Mantello, saying, “I’m so glad that you were like ‘I wonder who should design a really depressing apartment’ and thought of me.”

Before he was nominated for the Tony for his scenic design for “The Humans,” Zinn received Tony nominations for Best Scenic Design of a Musical for “Fun Home” in 2015, as well as Best Costume Design for “In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)” in 2010 and “Airline Highway” in 2015.

Best Scenic Design of a Musical – David Rockwell for “She Loves Me”

“She Loves Me” photo by Sara Krulwich

“She Loves Me” photo by Sara Krulwich

David Rockwell, winner of the Tony for Best Scenic Design of a Musical, and his firm, Rockwell Group, don’t just make believable-looking scenery; the group consists of a very active architecture and design practice, working on projects including hospitals, hotels, and events in addition to scenic design for theatres.

Rockwell holds a degree in architecture and uses this talent to provide gorgeous scenery for some of the more notable Broadway musical productions of the 21st century. Rockwell has a knack for transforming simple New York stages into completely different worlds, making the iconic Baltimore row houses in “Hairspray,” a dreary shoe factory in “Kinky Boots,” and now in the award-winning “She Loves Me,” an Art Nouveau-inspired perfumery in 1930s Budapest, among other fanciful locations.

Jane Krakowski, one of the stars of the show, even told Architectural Digest, “I immediately felt like the set was one of the characters — a living and breathing character that dances along with us in the show.”

Best Lighting Design of a PlayNatasha Katz for “Long Day’s Journey Into Night”

“A Long Day’s Journey Into Night” photo by Sara Krulwich

“A Long Day’s Journey Into Night” photo by Sara Krulwich

A veteran lighting designer of more than 30 years, Natasha Katz is credited with designing the lighting for 48 Broadway plays and musicals, including “Aida,” “Once,” and “Aladdin,” as well as a number of operas, dance performances, and other regional performances.

This year, Katz took home her sixth Tony Award for the Best Lighting Design of a Play for the 2016 revival of the Eugene O’Neill play “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” by Roundabout Theatre Company. The Hollywood Reporter praised her “expertly modulated lighting” in their review of the play, while Deadline Hollywood singled out the lighting as “exquisite.”

Exposing the inner darkness that plagues a family and set over the course of around 16 hours, Katz said during her acceptance speech that “’Long Day’s Journey Into Night’ is a lighting designer’s dream.”

Best Lighting Design of a MusicalHowell Binkley for “Hamilton”

“Hamilton” photo by Sara Krulwich

“Hamilton” photo by Sara Krulwich

Howell Binkley, winner of Best Lighting Design of a Musical for his work on “Hamilton” (one of 11 Tony Awards that “Hamilton” took home at what has been affectionately dubbed the “Hamiltonys”), also recently took home a Henry Hewes Design Award for the production’s original successful run off-Broadway, marking another high in Binkley’s already grand career.

Creating lighting that matches the highs and lows of such a dynamic show has been no small feat, but Binkley, who has been nominated for a Tony Award more than five times and previously won the award for lighting “Jersey Boys” in 2005, was more than suited for the challenge. He told LiveDesign Online in a recent webinar about how he and his team created more than 1,000 lighting cues for the Broadway version of show.

While many are amazed by his work, in his acceptance speech for the award, Binkley expressed his own amazement at being involved in the historic production, noting, “It’s been an honor and a privilege to be in the room where it happened.”

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees.

Miss the awards? You can view the Tony Creative Arts Awards on their YouTube channel here.