Students at the UCLA Experiential Technologies Center in the School of the Arts and Architecture can now explore reverse engineering and problem-solving techniques thanks to Anthony Caldwell, Diane Favro, and Ertugrul Taciroglu, who received the first Vectorworks Academic Research Grant for their work toward reconstructing the Pharos Lighthouse in Alexandria, Egypt.

Image courtesy of UCLA Experiential Technologies Center

Once among the tallest buildings in the western world, the lighthouse was destroyed following several earthquakes in the 14th century. Caldwell, a trained architect, began working on the 2,000-year-old lighthouse five years ago, and his experience documenting early 20th century structures enticed him to reconstruct the lighthouse. He joined scholars trained in architectural history and mechanical engineering to approach the project with an architectural/builder perspective rather than an archeological/historical one.

“After reviewing the relevant historical evidence, it occurred to me that the best course of action was to start by creating an architectural program of the basic known facts,” said Caldwell. “We know the site, mostly, about how high it was, the fact it had a fire at the top, and, by extension, rooms to store fuel, ramps to move material up and down, and so on. The second step was to examine building tools, technology, and materials available in Alexandria of the 3rd century B.C. The last step was to try to understand the social and political context of the time.”

Image courtesy of UCLA Experiential Technologies Center

Favro, who is an architectural historian, notes that while there have been several reconstructions of the lighthouse, information provided by ancient authors about its size, scale, and interior is partial or contradictory. Its exact position also remains a debate. Using several diverse sources, the team created a 3D, digital model of the lighthouse using Vectorworks software. The program’s 3D modeling and visualization tools, in combination with Vectorworks’ Building Information Modeling capabilities, enabled the team to rapidly develop, document, and explore several possible configurations of the lighthouse. Taciroglu, a mechanical engineer, analyzed the model by using various engineering programs to evaluate the lighthouse’s behavior when subjected to seismic stresses. Next, the team compared the results to descriptions found in historical records. Caldwell also visited Egypt and consulted with the French archeological team working on the remains of the lighthouse. The model is continuously changing as new ideas are tested and old ones challenged. Vectorworks allowed the seamless integration and documentation of the entire process. “Knowledge formation is always a process,” said Caldwall.

Learn more about the Vectorworks Academic Research Grant program by visiting our website. Also, read more about the Pharos Lighthouse and the team’s research here.


As part of our efforts to help designers increase productivity through Building Information Modeling (BIM) workflows, we are excited to announce a new partnership with Datacubist Oy, the creators of simplebim, Now, designers who use Vectorworks Architect can export their IFC-STP files and import them into the simplebim application to trim unnecessary data, as well as validate, edit, and add non-geometric data directly within the IFC file. Simplebim is a BIM software platform that enhances IFC data exchange between AECO professionals.

“Our commitment to design flexibility and intent drives our continuous search for technology partners that support Open BIM workflows for improved communication and project coordination,” said Jeremy Powell, product marketing director at Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc. “It’s paramount that we provide designers with innovative technology to help them maintain complete control over their IFC data, and we’re very excited to be a part of solutions like this partnership that will enhance collaboration and improve the quality of data exchanged among project stakeholders.”

By using simplebim, designers, contractors and building owners can review IFC data in a model-centric, user-configurable interface. Simplebim also has the ability to detect data deficiencies and remove any potential issues, as well as edit and match the data structures to the requirements of other IFC compatible applications. Through capturing the IFC data exchange requirements and validating the models against them, teams can provide feedback to the author or edit the IFC data directly in simplebim without having access to the original model, allowing for streamlined communication and utilization of discipline-specific, IFC-based workflows.

“Our goal is to help designers gain a deeper understanding of BIM and everything that surrounds it,” said Jiri Hietanen, CEO and co-founder of Datacubist Oy. “The key to delivering valuable BIM data is to clearly understand the specific requirements of the receiver, and then to use the right workflow and tools for delivering relevant and reliable design information. Through this partnership, we hope to further equip designers to make better BIM decisions and with more precision and reliability than ever before, whether they are a BIM novice or expert.”

To learn more about Vectorworks Architect software and simplebim, visit our website.

Design visionaries of the past understood that great architecture emerges when you challenge convention and present something unexpected to the world. So to help you delve into the mindsets of innovative architects like Melnikov, Eiffel, and Perrault, as well as explore their connections to the visionaries of today, Nemetschek Vectorworks is launching a free series of webinars focused on the “Art in Architecture.”

“Architects throughout history have utilized their creativity to produce pioneering designs, pulling inspiration from everyday objects, abstract concepts, and even each other,” says Steve Alden, AIA, architect at Nemetschek Vectorworks and series presenter. “We’re excited to announce this webinar series and share how today’s most expressive designers are influenced by the visionary minds of the past and how they use technology to enable imaginative designs that transform the world.”

Each webinar is eligible for 1 AIA Learning Unit (LU), so we hope you’ll join us for these thought-provoking learning opportunities!

Oct. 29, 2:00 p.m. ET: Melnikov – Early Sparks of Russian Iconic Architecture (1 AIA LU)
Follow the career of a visionary architect as he discovered how to rethink everything he thought he knew about design and found himself transformed by the experience. Konstantin Melnikov was a Russian architect caught up in social upheaval during a time of great revolutionary change. Learn how the roots of modern architecture can be traced directly back to the events of 1917 Russia, and compare how today’s iconic architecture flows naturally from the past.

Nov. 19, 2:00 p.m. ET: Small Iconic Architecture (1 AIA LU)
Iconic architecture is springing up in urban settings more and more since the advent of powerful computer technology. But even before the computer, there was a desire to create a dramatic statement through architecture. This webinar will examine the link between a designer’s desire for expression and the capability of technology to enable its realization. The presentation will focus on smaller projects and feature examples from both the past and present.

Dec. 17, 2:00 p.m. ET: Four French Architects You Should Know – Eiffel, Prouvé, Perrault, and Ricciotti (1 AIA LU)
This webinar will discuss the lives and influences of Gustave Eiffel, Jean Prouvé, Dominique Perrault, and Rudy Ricciotti. Participants will discover the interconnections among their work and examine the technology that supported their design solutions.

Follow @Vectorworks online and use #ArtInArch to participate in the conversation and tell us your ideas about iconic architects.

By Nathan Kipnis, AIA, LEED BD+C, Principal at Kipnis Architecture + Planning

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is challenging designers to evaluate the impact their design decisions have on a project’s energy performance with the goal of producing carbon-neutral buildings by 2030. While this ambitious program may seem intimidating, particularly for smaller-scale firms, I’ve outlined how to participate in what AIA has called their 2030 Commitment initiative.

The Four Parts of the Commitment

Designers must meet four requirements to sign on to the Commitment. First, download and sign AIA’s official commitment letter, which outlines your plan for meeting the goal by 2030 and identifies your firm’s team leader. Second, draw up an Immediate Operational Actions plan, focusing on actions your office can take to make a difference today. This includes items such as reducing energy use by shutting down monitors at night, switching to LED lighting, and purchasing climate offsets to help your firm become more environmentally friendly. Third, submit a comprehensive Sustainability Action Plan that addresses your firm’s approach to operations, management, and design, and reflects your aspirational goals. Examples include having at least one project a year attain LEED Gold or higher certification or be a true Net Zero design. The fourth step is to report the results of your project designs each year.


Firms are expected to report their projects’ annual Energy Use Intensity (EUI), which is compared against baseline averages for various building types. Many of these baseline EUI numbers have regional averages. You can determine EUI using energy modeling software programs ranging from free and simple programs such as HEED, to more complex programs such as Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES) and Sefaira. All of these programs allow you to input the project’s site information, the building’s geometry, and its component characteristics such as R-Values, glazing specifications, and mechanical systems.

These programs output a series of results that can aid in the early design process. The goal is to model early and often, doing iterative analyses to figure out what’s positively impacting the building’s performance and seeing what’s doing that cost-effectively. Be sure to avoid only checking the energy modeling results after the design is complete.

Each firm then anonymously submits their results to the AIA’s 2030 Commitment website. The goal is that designs will be 70 percent better than the baseline EUIs, starting with the 2015 reporting period. Keep in mind that there are no “green police” who will fault you for not meeting the EUI goals. Rather, the intent is to have firms model their projects and to gain an understanding of which design strategies reduce a specific project type’s EUI and continue to share knowledge that helps to increase building efficiency.

By following these four steps, designers can gain a working knowledge of what it takes to create carbon-neutral projects by 2030. This is good for people, the planet, and profits!

Since we launched the English version of Vectorworks 2015 in September, we’ve shared a lot of information about the new features and tools that will help you transform the world. Designers around the globe are sharing their excitement for the new release, too!

Left to right: Michael Klaers, Rob Glisson, and Todd McCurdy

“I like organizing everything into worksheets,” says Michael Klaers, founder of The Small Group and leader of the Santa Barbara Vectorworks User Group. Klaers, who lights everything from theatre stages to concert halls and events, says, “My paperwork can be an absolute mess with wrong data and misspellings while I’m figuring out the design, but I can quickly clean it up in worksheets. In addition, 64-bit is amazing. I’ve done three or four projects in Vectorworks 2015, and it handles large clouds of mesh objects so much better. Finally, I’m excited about the MA Lighting plug-in. I hope this is a wakeup call for other manufacturers that they should have a Vectorworks plug-in, too.”

Rob Glisson, AIA, also enjoys how the new release is making a positive impact on his workflows as the founder and principal of Florida-based Rojo Architecture. Glisson adopted a CAD design workflow in 1985, and has experienced the evolution of design software firsthand though his work on projects ranging from hotels and restaurants to medical facilities and residential work.

“One of our big selling points is 3D presentation,” says Glisson. “The more we can make it real and virtual, the more likely that our clients will buy into it. The enhancements to the graphics module let us move our clients through a building almost like we’re walking through it. The new Deform tool and the rendering improvements are also really helpful. It’s easier to make complex forms and curves, and Vectorworks has really opened up new design possibilities and allowed us to bring new concepts to the table.”

Todd McCurdy, FASLA, is another Florida designer who is reaping the benefits of Vectorworks software. As the vice president and director of landscape architecture and planning at MORRIS in Orlando, McCurdy has worked on projects from LEGOLAND® Florida to Universal Studios, fusing his knowledge of tourism with urban planning in all types of environments.

“I really appreciate how Vectorworks listens to designers and makes tools that are a part of our daily workflow. Things we’ve asked for you’ve built, which helps us do some really great things. Vectorworks 2015 has a lot of improvements for the landscape architecture industry, like better site modeling and calculations, particularly with slopes, and a lot of new plant feature libraries and materials. I also like how easy the transition is between 2D and 3D. We do a lot of work in 2D, but many elements need 3D aspects, so being able to fit 3D and 2D together in one project is really helpful to how we work.”

Discover new ways to imagine and construct your projects with Vectorworks 2015 at

Some architectural awards recognize a single building, while others distinguish designers for their work in a specific area, such as the use of natural light, skylights, façades, or even using architecture as a marketing tool. However, as award juror Juho Nyberg points out, for younger architects looking to make their mark in the industry, the work they do to support themselves early on in their career might not be reflective of their true talents because their work isn’t always built.

The Foundation Award, therefore, was created to honor young Swiss architects and was instituted by ComputerWorks AG, the Vectorworks distributor in Switzerland, as well as HP Switzerland, web-based culture channel, the online platform swiss-architects, and Nemetschek Vectorworks. In the five years since its inception, the award has grown in prestige. Plus, the addition of architectural magazine Hochparterre and the Swiss Architectural Museum (S AM) to the funding body further validates the already esteemed award.

The up-and-coming Swiss architects at Focketyn del Rio Basel Studio won this year’s prestigious Foundation Award.

This year’s winner, Focketyn del Rio Studio Basel, embodies the visionary qualities that the judges look for in the vibrant young architectural scene in Switzerland. Their project, the Kaserne Basel, impressed the panel of judges with their design principle of “soft radicals,” which entails incorporating the existing values of a building or area into project while simultaneously destroying what existed before to create something new. By tempering their radical changes with influences from the past, the designers utilize their philosophy in constantly evolving ways.

The architects describe their design for the Kaserne Basel as a “breaking” of what was there before in order to build a better building.

To learn more about The Foundation Award, check out their website.

It’s time for another tech roundup where we highlight some of our best tech tip videos from our YouTube channel to help designers get the most out of their Vectorworks software, as well as share recent tech news you may have missed.

First, we have released the first Service Pack for the Vectorworks 2015 product line. This Service Pack fixes problems when rendering viewports in OpenGL, opening Mac files that contain special characters such as / or : as part of the file name or file path, and displaying a black screen when creating animations. We also corrected multiple issues with exporting to image files, centering the drawing on internal origin, and using the Publish command, as well as problems running Vectorworks 2015 in Windows XP 64-bit.

This Service Pack is available for all non-localized English language licenses as a downloadable updater. To install the Service Pack, please click here or go to the About Vectorworks 2015 dialog box in the Vectorworks menu (Mac users) or Help menu (Windows users) and select Check for Updates.

Next, we continue to publish great videos on our YouTube channel. For example, here’s a video that covers the basics of preparing a 3D model created in or imported into Vectorworks to export to the STL format, the standard 3D file format for 3D printing.


This second video reveals how to best utilize freely available 3D object library resources.

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

After five years of construction, the newly renovated Toni-Areal officially opened its doors last month. The site of the former milk processing facility is now home to the Zürich University of the Arts and the Zürich University of Applied Sciences. The Toni-Areal is one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken in Zürich and is considered one of the largest sites in Switzerland.

The Toni-Areal was designed by architects Mathias Müller and Daniel Niggli of EM2N and encompasses nearly a city block. The facility combines educational facilities previously distributed in 35 separate locations under one room. By merging the Zürich University of Arts and two departments of the Zürich University of Applied Sciences, EM2N was able to optimize their space requirements and cut operating costs. The cost of the completed project totaled at 500 million Swiss francs.

Visit our success stories page to learn how EM2N utilized BIM with Vectorworks Architect software to design the Toni-Areal.

With an American broadcast history spanning more than 45 years, NBC’s “Meet the Press” has seen a lot of changes, including those to its set. So when Chuck Todd was named as the new host for the Sunday morning talk show, producers and executives sought a fresh look as well, which is why they turned to The Lighting Design Group (LDG).

LDG’s Emmy® Award-winning Lighting Designer Niel Galen has been doing work for NBC since 2000, creating lighting designs for coverage of the Olympics, as well as for national election commentary over the past decade. “It’s always a pleasure to work with NBC because they understand that good lighting is more than just flicking on a switch,” says Galen.

After working with NBC to determine how they wanted the lighting to affect the audience’s perception of the show, looking past an ultra-modern feel and deciding on warm, cozy atmosphere, Galen had one week to provide a sense of hominess in a distinctly un-homey setting. He notes that not only is the set itself fairly large, but it is also dark, which created deep shadows. Galen compensated for this imbalance by incorporating LED lighting fixtures to the existing incandescent studio equipment. He also relied on profile fixtures and careful camera placement to create a sense of closeness between Todd and the show’s guests.

Producing exceptional results in such a small time frame is just one of the reasons that NBC continues to work with Galen and LDG. “We provide a very high level of service for our clients, and we’re very competitive and aggressive for them,” he says. “We do beautiful work, and we tailor it to the people we work with.”

Galen remarks that LDG uses Vectorworks Spotlight software for all of their projects, citing its interoperability and industry-specific tools as reasons why it’s their design platform of choice. In particular, Galen enjoys the fluid symbiosis between Lightwright and Vectorworks Spotlight software, toggling between the two in his workflow to synchronize each show’s design. “The fact that Spotlight exists with its current range of flexibility is pretty amazing,” says Galen. “I’ve always been a champion of Vectorworks, and I’m so glad that so much thought has been put into this industry-specific application.”

Consult your local NBC station’s schedule for the airing of “Meet the Press” on Sunday morning, so you can see the new set, new host, and new lighting designed with Vectorworks Spotlight. For a preview, watch a time-lapse video of the set installation.

To preserve its iconic skyline, Paris’ 13th arrondissement once limited the construction of housing blocks to 37 meters. But a new law raised the height limit to 50 meters, enabling architecture firms like HAMONIC + MASSON & Associés to transform the face of the City of Lights forever.

The ZAC Masséna Paris Rive Gauche high-rise “will be the first 50-meter-tall housing solution to be built in Paris since the start of the 1970s,” says HAMONIC + MASSON Director Jean-Christophe Masson. “It is symbolic of a willingness to question the possibility of height in Paris. Functioning as one single building whilst offering social housing and home ownership opportunities, the project links the strict rigidity of the Avenue de France, the railway landscape, the entrance to Ivry suburb, and finally the transition of a linear city toward a vertical one.”

The high-rise is a twist on the traditional skyscraper structure, with each story in the dual-towered building aligning differently from the one above and below it. This swirling prism is a new way of thinking of urban space, and is a design that the architects think has a lot of potential in the future. The design also helps to change the image of what public housing can be in the eyes of Parisians, both conceptually and visually.

Read the full success story on our website.