Though he comes from a long line of artists and craftsmen, Forest Dickey was initially uncertain that he could turn his passion for woodworking into a career. But, being a self-declared stubborn individual, he eventually convinced himself to just “go do it, and see if it works.” Dickey’s determination paid off when he founded Varian Designs, a custom, artisanal furniture company, where he fuses elements of his Californian surroundings with visions inspired by his Scandinavian heritage to create heirloom-quality pieces.

While Varian Designs’ tagline, “Designed for you. Built for your grandchildren,” highlights the enduring beauty of Dickey’s work, his stylistic approach is constantly evolving. “Early on, the aesthetic was very architectural. I was looking at how the timbers were being joined together with steel to allow for larger buildings and structures,” he says. “My newer stuff is much more inward-looking. It’s less influenced by architecture and exterior things and more just coming straight out of my head.” Wherever he pulls his ideas from, the furniture he creates attracts attention. Dickey’s work can be found in prominent homes and businesses in the San Francisco Bay area and beyond, as well as on the small screen. (Fans of the hit NBC show “Parks and Recreation” saw Dickey’s Lofn Chair as a prop in one episode.)

To meet the needs of his high-caliber clientele, Dickey uses Vectorworks Architect’s 3D modeling capabilities, relying on a workflow that lets him refine hand-sketched designs and record revisions that he makes to furniture prototypes. Dickey enjoys both the flexibility of the software’s workflows, as well as the integrated Renderworks application that allows him to create design renderings that are crucial to getting client buy-in. And by exporting his DXF and DXG files to a local 5-Axis CNC operator, Dickey can create intricate design details in a matter of minutes. “CNC technology isn’t doing anything that the hand can’t do; rather, it’s just making it much easier. So this means that Vectorworks software lets me design the way I think, and make my workflow cheaper and faster.”

To learn more about the work of Forest Dickey and Varian Designs, check out his success story.

We released Vectorworks 2015 back in September, but if you’re still using the Vectorworks 2014 product line, you can now get our fifth Service Pack, which features improvements and updates in the following areas:

  • DXF/DWG file import and export
  • Increased compatibility with Mac OS X Yosemite (10.10)
  • Fixed Callout tool maximum text width

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 2014 dialog box in the Vectorworks menu (Mac users) or Help menu (Windows users) and click Check for Updates.

Once you’re caught up, treat yourself to some free training by watching a few video tutorials on our YouTube channel. First, Vectorworks Architect and Landmark users can learn how to create a standard naming system for organizational elements in a document.

Then, learn about the Lit Fog effect in Renderworks that gives your renderings a more realistic look and makes light seem to pass through fog or smoke.

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

Our Art In Architecture webinar series has taken viewers from the origins of iconic architecture in post-World War I Russia through to its emergence as an international trend in the design industry. The third installment, titled “Four French Architects You Should Know – Eiffel, Prouvé, Perrault, and Ricciotti,” taking place on Wednesday, December 17, at 2:00 pm ET, will explore the work of four designers in an examination of their common cultural roots and the historical influences that guided their creative energy. Register here and attend this free webinar to earn 1 AIA Learning Unit.

“We’ve gotten to the point where the over-arching themes of the series are becoming evident through the design work being analyzed,” says series presenter Steve Alden, AIA, architect at Nemetschek Vectorworks. “Those who have been with us from the start have seen iconic architecture evolve from a small movement to an architectural norm, as well as the growth of the technology that empowered the evolution. However, each of the webinars can stand alone for those who are only interested in one facet of the discussion.”

The four architects being covered in the December 17 webinar have made a distinctive impact on the world of architecture, and by examining their influences, today’s designers can find inspiration for their own future innovations. Gustave Eiffel, creator of the Parisian landmark that bears his name, is perhaps the most recognizable, but his body of work is surprisingly large and extends around the world. Jean Prouvé is renowned for combining new manufacturing technologies with social responsibility as he pioneered pre-fabricated architecture in the first half of the twentieth century through the post-war 1940s. Dominique Perrault received international acclaim as a young designer for the French National Library completed in 1995, and is an architect and planner who believes in the power of bold gesture and inspiration. Finally, Rudy Ricciotti is a master of unexpected solutions in the design of large-scale, world-class cultural centers and exhibition spaces.

Participants who attend and register with their AIA member number will earn one AIA Learning Unit upon the completion of a short follow-up quiz. We’ll be leading a discussion on Twitter throughout the webinar. Follow @Vectorworks and #ArtInArch to join in on the conversation live!

PCLD utilized CameraMatch, a Vectorworks plug-in, to align the 3D model with site photographs and create renderings that were more realistic and easily recognizable by stakeholders and users in context with the existing site and its surroundings.

When the City Council of Newhall, California asked Pacific Coast Land Design (PCLD) to bring new life to their economically flagging Main Street, the firm looked to the area’s past to provide it with a brighter future. The city’s storied history as a Native American trading center, an outpost of the Wild West, and then a backdrop for the western films of the early 20th century gave PCLD plenty of material to construct an engaging, pedestrian-friendly experience that they’ve termed Old Town Newhall.

“The area’s rural, equestrian character and distinctive past are important community values that were almost lost,” says PCLD Principal Chris Roberts. “We wanted to strengthen the community’s heritage and instill a new sense of pride in downtown Newhall.” To accomplish this, the firm incorporated elements from the surrounding landscape into their Wild West-themed design, placing bollards emulating hewn local stone from a nearby creek alongside wooden lodge pole horse ties to give the area a uniquely “Newhall” aesthetic.

PCLD’s dedication to capturing the essence of Newhall in their site plan is matched only by their commitment to including sustainable elements in their design. Old Town Newhall’s complex, multi-faceted irrigation system works to preserve as much water as possible, and the plants used in their design are native or regionally adapted to the area’s climate. Vectorworks Landmark software is an integral part of this process. “We have to provide water budget calculations for each site, which can become time consuming if you don’t have the right tools,” says Mike Zielsdorf, principal at PCLD. “We can input all of our data into our worksheet and use smart calculations in Vectorworks Landmark to do all the budgeting for us; everything happens with the click of a button.”

To learn more about how PCLD transformed Newhall into the thriving community center that it is today, read their success story.

We're pleased to announce that Nemetschek Vectorworks has been selected as one of The Baltimore Sun’s Top Workplaces for 2014!

“We’re very excited to be named a Top Workplace by The Baltimore Sun for the second year in a row,” said Stewart Rom, chief marketing officer at Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc. “Creating an environment that makes people enjoy coming to work every day is a priority for us, and the positive feedback from our employees validates that we're delivering work satisfaction, transparent leadership, and opportunities to solve problems, develop careers, and make a difference.”

Nemetschek Vectorworks' commitment to social responsibility starts with supporting the practice of “reduce, re-use, and recycle.” It also participates in community programs such as the Adopt-A-Highway program, annual food drives, PLANET’s Renewal and Remembrance Service, DC General’s Homeless Children’s Playtime Project, and American Red Cross Blood Drives.

In addition, Nemetschek Vectorworks supports its employees by offering full medical and 401K benefits packages and providing opportunities for professional growth through a Tuition Reimbursement Plan. Employees are offered discount programs for things like the Columbia Association, AT&T Wireless, movie tickets, and more. Nemetschek Vectorworks also frequently hosts events and activities year-round, such as an employee and family event at an Orioles baseball game at Camden Yards, annual holiday and product launch parties, ice cream socials, cookouts, potlucks and Halloween costume contests.

Employee Halloween Picture

Nemetschek Vectorworks hosts a Halloween costume contest for employees.

“I am proud and fortunate to be part of such an amazing company,” said Tania Salgado-Nealous, human resources director at Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc. “With the help of great people, we have created a work environment and company culture that encourages everyone to enjoy the work they do and the people with whom they work. Plus, the continued success of our business brings new opportunities for growth. In 2015, we are looking forward to significantly increasing our staff.”

The distinction of being a Top Workplace is determined based solely on employee feedback. The employee survey is conducted by WorkplaceDynamics, LLP, a leading research firm on organizational health and employee engagement. WorkplaceDynamics conducts regional Top Workplaces programs with 40 major publishing partners across the United States.

The Baltimore Sun published the complete list of Top Workplaces on December 7.

Discover why our employees think Nemetschek Vectorworks is a great place to work by watching the video below. Also, visit  www.vectorworks.net/jobs to see our current career openings.

For students trying to break into the professional world, networking and exposure are everything. That’s why Nemetschek Vectorworks created the Student Conference Pass program, a competition where students who write compelling essays about their career aspirations are selected to attend major industry conferences at our expense. Students Ry Burke of Reed College, Carson Cooper of the Rhode Island School of Design, and Megan Ukoh of University of Maryland, College Park, traveled to the LDI, ASLA, and Greenbuild conferences this year, respectively. Keep an eye on these up-and-coming industry professionals!

Burke, a sophomore theatre major, has been working toward becoming a professional lighting designer since designing a high school production of Copacabana as a junior. Burke’s sights are now set on creating designs for smaller, more serious pieces, rather than the typically larger stages of Broadway-scale shows. Attending LDI allowed Burke to gain a better understanding of the capabilities of Vectorworks Spotlight and also provided a jump-start into the industry. “I feel like I understand the world of professional lighting so much better now and have more of a basis for deciding what I want to do,” Burke says. “I also met a lot of people who have amazing internship opportunities for college students interested in lighting!”

Cooper, an Olmsted Scholar and graduate student, used his time at ASLA to gather information to improve his thesis project. He tried to attend every educational session relating to coastal development, sea-level rise, and social justice to help inform his work on sea-level rise in Boston and its effects on the community. Cooper intends to incorporate his passion for community building with his skill with Vectorworks software to improve the lives of others. “My overall goal is to change the world and make poetic, meaningful, and successful spaces that will have a positive impact on all those who visit them, as well as have the capacity to modify behavior,” Cooper says. “And once I’ve done that, I want to teach the next generation how to do the same.”

Ukoh traveled to Greenbuild to further her dreams of starting a business focused on sustainable landscape design and maintenance. She was excited to learn about features of Vectorworks software that make sustainable design easier and more efficient, and she has gained confidence in pursuing her career after being chosen as a conference pass winner. But the most important thing she took away from the experience was a deeper understanding of what the core values of the green movement are. “My favorite speakers discussed how we should love the world and do things for it, rather than ourselves,” Ukoh says. “We need to take the focus off ourselves and continue moving forward toward sustainability.”

To learn more about the Vectorworks Student Conference Pass program, and to read about our other academic initiatives like scholarships and free software downloads, visit our Academic Community page.

As people gather in the homes of friends and family during the holiday season, it’s easy to forget that many people may spend this time at local hospitals, health care facilities, and community support organizations. But these spaces don’t have to be bereft of holiday cheer, which is why Nemetschek Vectorworks is sponsoring the nationwide GINGERTOWN initiatives for the second year in a row: a one-of-a-kind program that brings together architects, engineers, and contractors across various cities to create communities of gingerbread houses for a good cause.

Created in 2006 by David M. Schwarz Architects, GINGERTOWN gives members of the AEC industry the opportunity to substitute steel and concrete with gingerbread and frosting to build miniature, master-planned towns. Even though the towns’ occupants are cookies, GINGERTOWNs are still designed to function as civic-centered, pedestrian-friendly communities complete with green spaces, city halls, concert halls, libraries, and toy stores. Best of all, once the towns are fully built, the individual buildings are delivered to places like the National Children’s Medical Center, The Washington Home, Martha’s Table, and Hannah House, as well as similar facilities in other GINGERTOWN cities across the country, to spread the message of joy and hope to the people who need it most during the holidays. Such organizations also receive 100 percent of the sponsorship contributions donated to the GINGERTOWN project.

Beyond sponsorship, employees from Nemetschek Vectorworks constructed part of this year’s GINGERTOWNs in Washington, DC and Dallas, helping to bring a little holiday magic to their local communities. “It was great to be able to give back in such a fun environment,” said Alice Lowy, US marketing manager at Nemetschek Vectorworks. “We got to experience the fun of building gingerbread houses while helping people close to home. It’s a great way for people in the AEC industry to support local charities by doing what they love.”

If you happen to be in the DC-Metro area, you can view DC’s GINGERTOWN, Gingertown Junction, on December 6-7 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1275 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. If you stop by, don’t forget to cast a vote for your favorite building to win the People’s Choice Award!

Liam Buckley, Project Manager at Integrated Environmental Solutions (IES)

At IES, we enjoyed reading a recent post from Nathan Kipnis of Kipnis Architecture + Planning on how firms can take part in the AIA 2030 Commitment program. As a follow-up, we wanted to examine why architects must embrace energy modeling if we are to meet the challenge.

Build Qatar Live 2012 – Solar exposure analysis performed with IESVE

When announcing the publication of the latest AIA 2030 Commitment Progress Report, AIA’s president said energy modeling must become a standard part of the design process to maximize the energy efficiency of buildings and realize the ultimate goal of carbon neutral buildings. Rand Ekman, AIA, Cannon Design, is also quoted in the report, stating that energy-modeled projects show an approximate 20% improvement in predicted performance.

The AIA has actively promoted the use of energy modeling since releasing An Architect’s Guide to Integrating Energy Modeling in the Design Process in October 2012. Its message is clear: Architects who have not started incorporating energy modeling into their practices, must start now; otherwise, they risk being left behind.

Technology such as IESVE for Architects is making it easier for architects to get on board. However, some architecture firms are still struggling. The question is, why? What’s stopping them?

The Berkeley Hotel, Knightsbridge, London, by IES Consulting

We asked this very question in the latest AIA 2030 tweet chat, with one respondent saying, “@IESVE Wish I knew. Maybe fear of software, too much like “engineering,” how to fit into the workflow. Has to be seamless. #aiachat

We can break down these barriers. In 2012, IES began providing formal training and education programs to firms focused on sustainable design procedures and the use of simulation and analysis tools across its practice and design processes. These programs use in-depth, immersive training and other initiatives for architects to facilitate a cultural change into firms with a strong, sustainable design foundation.

With stricter code compliance, regulations such as Title 24 coming into place, and voluntary rating systems like LEED V4 and ASHRAE Standard 189 introducing more stringent, performance-based prerequisites, it’s becoming clear that the industry must be ready to use a performance-based simulation approach across the entire building lifecycle.

This was the IES message at Greenbuild 2014, when we asked the industry, “Are You Ready?” IES’ performance modeling software allows users to use one model across the entire building lifecycle, from early stage analysis to detailed design, as well as for code compliance, operation, and retrofit. So it’s safe to say the IESVE is ready. However, the question now is, are architects ready?

Performance modeling is fundamental to creating a more energy-efficient and sustainable built environment for our future. The key is to understand different levels of detail and how different modeling approaches must be used at different stages.

If you’re ready and want to learn more about how our partnership with Nemetschek Vectorworks provides comprehensive energy analysis capabilities, visit their website.

Theatrical productions are an important outlet through which people can express their creativity and explore their artistic visions. So when drama students at Northwood High School got to use Vectorworks Spotlight software to design sets for their fall play, “The Ash Girl,” a dark twist on the classic tale of Cinderella, they were able to take their passion for the stage one step further.

To get started, six students attended a Vectorworks boot camp to learn the technical skills that are integral to creating engaging theatre. Their teacher, Danyelle Dunavold, was so impressed with their work that she let them design and build the entire show themselves. “I wanted my students to dip their toes into every aspect of technical theatre, so they worked with many of the different features of Vectorworks,” Dunavold says. “They picked it up so fast, much faster than I did myself!”

Students explored lighting and sound design, hung and focused lights, and programmed a lightboard. They also built scenery and TV flats. Each of the students fully designed ground plans for a scene of the play, and senior Jacky Lao even created intricate cut lists for the set pieces. A carpentry master coached students through physically creating what they had modeled in the software, making this a truly student-produced show. “To me, it’s like a game,” said sophomore student Joshua Lee. “First, you figure out what you want to do. Then when you get better at designing, it’s like you level up. When you see what everyone else is doing, it changes you for the better.”

Dunavold has nothing but respect for her students’ hard work, and says she plans to continue using Vectorworks Spotlight software for future productions. “It’s meaningful for them to take ownership of this production,” Dunavold says. “They’re making a lot of decisions themselves. It’s all their vision.”

Check out our Academic Community webpage to learn more about how we support students and schools with free software, scholarships, and grants.

It’s time to once again highlight some of the best tech tips from our YouTube channel and share recent tech news you may have missed.

First, we have released the second Service Pack for the Vectorworks 2015 product line. This Service Pack includes multiple fixes in the following areas:

  • Publish command: Information is no longer missing when exporting PDF files and page settings are retained after printing
  • Worksheets: Resolves occasional crashes when resizing or using the Undo command
  • IFC: Provides better IFC types export for different plug-in objects
  • Curtain Wall object: Draws corners and round curtain walls properly and fixes door and window configuration issues
  • Workgroup Referencing: No longer crashes when updating references while the referenced file is open
  • Workspaces: No longer crashes when editing a workspace to add menu commands to the Object Context menu

This Service Pack is available for all non-localized English 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 click Check for Updates.

Next, we’ve added some new videos to our YouTube channel to help designers make the most of their Vectorworks software. For example, boost your productivity this month by learning how to personalize your working environment by customizing anything from the location and content of tool palettes to individual menu options.

Then, learn how to use the new View Transition Animation capabilities with Saved Views, which designers often utilize to navigate in a file or control class and layer visibilities. With Vectorworks 2015, you can now also use Saved Views to present a project.

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