For the eleventh year, the finest architectural projects across Europe received Best Architects Awards, including many designed by Vectorworks software users, which are now published in the 2017 edition of best architects 17.

This year, 380 works from all over Europe were submitted for consideration, with 83 of those projects honored with the 2017 Best Architects Awards and another ten presented with the Gold Award. Seventeen of the 43 awarded projects in Switzerland were designed with Vectorworks software.

© Photo Niklaus Spoerri, Andrea Helbling Gold Award project "More than Living" House G by Pool Architects

© Photo Niklaus Spoerri, Andrea Helbling
Gold Award project “More than Living” House G by Pool Architects

Pool Architects in Zurich received a Gold Award for their project “More than Living” House G, as well as awards for three other projects, including: “Bürogebäude Alfred-Escher-Strasse” in the residential and administrative buildings category, “Am Bahnhof” in Wohlen in the residential and multi-family housing category, and the “Mehrzweckhalle Wetzikon” project garnered attention in the public buildings category.

“The high volume of submissions from many different regions of Europe has generated a wide range of winning solutions to various architectural questions,” said jury member Prof. Stephan Birk of Birk Heilmeyer and Frenzel Architects, Stuttgart. “Also, the overall quality of the projects was very high, regardless of each individual project’s task, scale, and origin. This led to interesting and inspiring jury discussions about quality, innovation, attitude, and the social relevance of architecture.” Other members of the jury were Corinna Menn and Georg Poduschka of PPAG architects, Vienna.

Giuliani.hönger’s residential and commercial building “Limmatfeld” won in multi-family houses.

Giuliani.hönger ag’s residential and commercial building “Limmatfeld” won in multi-family houses.

Each project has been richly illustrated and vividly described in best architects 17. The extensive, 456-page book is organized into different thematic areas: interior construction, single-family and multi-family houses, office and administrative, industrial, educational, public, and other buildings.

"rauti-huus" by spillmann echsle architekten won an award in the multi-family houses category.

“rauti-huus” by spillmann echsle architekten won an award in the multi-family houses category.

The resulting publication gives an impressive overview of the best current works in the European architecture scene and is a great reference and source of inspiration for architects, interior architects, engineers, project developers, and builders. You can order best architects 17 online, here.

Cue the spotlight! This year, we’re helping put students center stage at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF) by sponsoring awards at KCACTF’s eight regional festivals.

Founded in 1969, KCACTF is a national program that brings students together with peers and professionals to celebrate college theater in the United States. With workshops, discussions, scholarships, awards, and competitions, each festival creates ample opportunities for students to develop their creative and technical skills, showcase their best productions, and receive constructive feedback from professionals.Print“The Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase the diverse, emerging talent from around the country,” said Frank Brault, product marketing manager at Vectorworks. “We wholeheartedly enjoy seeing the innovation and perspective young designers bring to the table.”

As part of our sponsorship, we are donating a professional Vectorworks Spotlight license to one winner of the Design, Technology, and Management (DTM) category at each of the eight regional festivals. Entries are evaluated on quality, effectiveness, originality, and visual presentation techniques.

“KCACTF honors excellence and offers student artists individual recognition through awards and scholarships. At its core, it provides opportunities for participants to develop cutting-edge skills and learn current best practices,” said National KCACTF DTM Chair Rafael Jaen. “To do this effectively, we rely on industry-leading sponsors, such as Vectorworks. The company’s sponsorship will help the Design, Technology, and Management students expand their design approaches and achieve higher levels of professionalism.”

This year, the eight regional festivals will run between January 3 and March 4. You can learn more about each festival here, including how to enter your work before the curtain closes on this opportunity. Be sure to also check out our Vectorworks Design Scholarship to see how else we’re helping students fund their visions.

The Vectorworks crew attended the Rock in Rio: Lisbon music festival last summer. Partnering with Production Resource Group (PRG) to provide Vision previsualization services to the designers lighting up the event’s five nights of performances, we also took time to document the construction of the fest’s stages, talk with the bands’ lighting designers, and see the power of Vectorworks Spotlight and Vision software in action.

As we interviewed the major players on the ground in Lisbon, we learned about their backgrounds and inspiration, gleaning wisdom from their experiences to help both newcomers and industry veterans alike.



Who he is: Götz Bauer is Special Operations Director with PRG, the world’s leading provider of entertainment and event technology solutions. In the warehouse and in the field, Bauer coordinates the delivery and construction of festival stages, trade shows, and other events around the world.

His start: Passionate about music, Bauer got his start in the industry as a trumpet player in a ska band, but when that didn’t work out, he made the move to event production. He spent time working as a stagehand, technician, and production manager and eventually made his way to Special Operations Director.

His inspiration: When asked what Bauer would do if he didn’t work in event operations and production, he shrugged. “I’ve been working in music my whole life,” he remarked. “This job comes from the heart.”

His advice: As someone who has worked in event production for over 20 years, Bauer has insights for anyone interested in set design, event production, or event technics:

1. There are a lot of misconceptions about what it’s like to work behind the scenes in rock ‘n’ roll. The myths and legends of the excess that permeated the music scene in the 60s and 70s have given way to a culture of hardworking engineers and technicians who compete for demanding contracts. “The ‘sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll’ thing is gone. You have to think about whether you really want to do it,” said Bauer. “It needs to be part of you.”

2. Not interested in a desk job? Bauer says that working in lighting and events is a business that is designed for unique people who don’t want a traditional 9-to-5 job. You’ll work long and sometimes unusual hours, but if you bring your passion, you’ll find it very rewarding.

3. Bauer’s team alone has technicians from Germany, Brazil, and Greece, and he has traveled the world to work with local festival crews. Events, lighting, and production is a global job, and so you should be ready to travel — and maybe take some time to learn more than one language.



Who he isBrent Clark, an Ontario-based lighting designer, has been instrumental in creating the visual stage presence of rock group Stereophonics for more than a decade. He previously provided lighting for Rock in Rio: Madrid.

His start: Clark got his start in the industry when he was in a thrash metal band in high school. After going to school for theatrical lighting design, scenic painting, and audio, he toured nightclubs for five years in Ontario, towing his lighting equipment around in a five-ton truck, “basically working for any bands I could get my hands on,” he said. Clark impressed tour managers with his shows and built industry connections, which lead to new jobs, including an invitation for him to design the lighting for Stereophonics, one of the most successful Welsh music groups of all time.

His inspiration: Even after 30 years in the industry, Clark is still inspired by the thrill at the beginning of every shows he creates. “When the house lights go down, it’s that rush you get from the live audience,” he said. “It is pretty much what drives me to do it every day. When you get a great reaction from the crowd, there’s nothing better, I think.”

His advice: Clark has specific encouragement: “My advice for anybody breaking into the industry is just persevere.” Clark offers a few other key pieces of wisdom for fellow designers:

1. Even though things may go wrong in a show, Clark said that he always tries to take out the good parts and build off of them. “Every show has its ups and downs, good and bad, and I just try to take the good away from it.”

2. Clark advises new and aspiring designers, as well as those in the industry looking to broaden their skill set, to build their craft by simply being open-minded; even the monitor and audio team might have something to teach you. “There are a lot of people out there doing a lot of stuff,” he said. “Just watch and listen. You can learn a lot of stuff from everybody.”

3. Though it may seem like a simple tip, Clark reminds lighting designers not to forget why they chose this career path. “This is why we do this: to have fun,” he said. “Take it as it comes. Try to enjoy what you’ve got.”



Who he is: As a lighting designer with UK-based design company Woodroffe Bassett Design, Terry Cook is part of one of the most in-demand lighting design companies in the world, creating spectacular designs for events like the 2012 London Olympics opening/closing ceremonies and two previous Rock in Rio festivals.

His start: Originally, Cook got his start onstage as a child actor. As a teen, he decided to work off the stage as a follow spot operator for a show, and he fell in love with it. After working backstage in amateur theatre in London, he studied stage management. He later met Patrick Woodroffe and Adam Bassett, the lighting designers who would go on to create Woodroffe Bassett Design, and worked as a project manager and associate with them before taking on lighting design projects of his own.

His inspiration: Cook gets his inspiration from the trust placed in him in his role as a lighting designer. Though he switched over from the production side of Woodroffe Bassett to design due to the needs of the company, he said that having the support of an accomplished team helps him grow. “I’m lucky to learn from two of the best designers in the world,” he said.

Cook looks up to Bassett and Woodroffe, and is driven by his desire to keep learning and improving under them.

His advice: Though he still sees himself as a new designer, Cook has some advice for other lighting designers still trying to find their place in the industry:

1. Cook’s top piece of advice is something that he is still learning to do: “Build a backbone.” He understands how easy it is for passionate designers to take negative statements to heart because they care about their work, but they shouldn’t become discouraged.

2. Even though it can be hard to listen to other designers assess your work, it’s an important way to learn. “As you gain more experience, you know when to realize that someone else is giving you some advice or criticism that is good for the overall piece,” he said.

3. Cook has discovered that listening to others and trying out lighting techniques that are outside of his comfort zone can have surprising results for a show. He notes that being flexible and taking comments in stride can remarkably improve designs. “If you think ‘Maybe their idea isn’t so good,’ well, try it!”

Want to get more insights on what it’s like to create shows for some of the most popular artists in the world? Check out our case study on Nick Whitehouse, a Vectorworks Spotlight user and lighting designer who toured with Coldplay and was responsible for Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake’s joint Legends of the Summer tour in 2013.

This article first appeared in our bimonthly academic newsletter, For the Love of Design.

The majority of the new and improved features in each version of Vectorworks software are based on user suggestions, but the impact of user input doesn’t stop there. Vectorworks has a team of beta testers from within the design industry who explore new features in the software before it’s released each year, informing us of how to improve key functionalities. We’re extremely grateful for all of their hard work, and according to beta tester Ion Webster, the feeling is mutual.

Webster got his start with Vectorworks software back in 1996 as a consultant assisting local architecture firms with their computer-aided drafting. After spending several years supporting architects, he decided to further pursue his passion for architecture and design by returning to school in 2000, just as Cal Poly was adding CAD into their curriculum.

Webster, now principal of Pults and Associates, LLP, has since gone from helping others learn to improve their use of Vectorworks software to helping advance the software itself. Webster became a beta tester in 2008 and has been among the first to try out many new tools and capabilities through the years, affording him a unique view on how the software has developed.


Pults and Associates project drafted and rendered with Vectorworks. Image courtesy of Ion Webster.

While he has always been a fan of Vectorworks, Webster says that the advancements in the last few years, including ones in the 2017 version, have taken the software to new heights. “The best way I can describe it,” says Webster, “is that since starting with the beta version of Vectorworks 2017, I haven’t once had to open up 2016 for my own projects. There isn’t a single project that I was working on prior to the first beta release that I haven’t moved into 2017.”

From door and window styles to structural objects, Webster has enjoyed all of the new tools and capabilities that Vectorworks 2017 has to offer — though he does have his favorites. “The feature that has been the most fun is web view,” says Webster. “It’s not only great for communication, but it’s also just this wow factor. To me, that’s the standout because it actually changes my relationship with clients.” Since clients can now go back and revisit designs privately, Webster claims that they are processing and understanding designs better, which improves working relationships.


Example of project that clients can walk through on their own using the new web view feature. Image courtesy of Ion Webster.

Webster is also particularly excited about the new Slab Drainage tool. After being initially impressed by the functionality of the tool when testing it, he’s eager to finally have the chance to use the tool for a project. Pults and Associates is currently remodeling an existing building and creating a new one for a wastewater treatment plant in Orcutt, California, both of which will contain locker rooms in need of depressed slabs for floor drainage. The project’s site plan also contains an extensive amount of infrastructure, but with the improvements to the Vectorworks Graphic Module, panning is a breeze.

Even though Webster might have a few favorites, he says that his success with the software isn’t just due to one or two tools, but to the software as a whole. “The fact that I can pan over large amounts of data quickly and have smooth responses, that Renderworks is now fully integrated, that I can send a model to my client at home or pull it up on my iPad on site — it’s not really about one aspect in particular, it’s really about how they all work together and how the whole tool has matured over the years,” Webster says. Additionally, Webster often uses the Camera Match feature with various commercial projects for his images so that he can integrate photos taken on site with his model.

Project rendering done using Camera Match. Image courtesy of Ion Webster.

Project rendering done using Camera Match. Image courtesy of Ion Webster.

Webster finds great joy in having the opportunity to offer input that helps improve and shape the software he uses, but that’s not the only reason he loves being a beta tester. “The team is like an extended family,” explains Webster. “It’s this wonderful mix of users that are accomplishing different things, but we’re all there with the focus to make the product better and more efficient. Being a part of the team, it feels like a privilege to me, and I am appreciative of every moment that I get to be a part of it.”

To learn more about web view, slab drainage, and all of the other tools that were tested by Webster and our beta team, head over to our Vectorworks 2017 page.

We’re giving you a ready-made New Year’s resolution for 2017: improve your skills! But don’t worry, we’re making it easy for you by gathering a collection of free educational opportunities for designers of all industries.

indwebinars3For those of you who are visual learners, head on over to our Inspiration page to watch multiple, in-depth webinars covering everything from rendering best practices to 3D modeling techniques. Be sure to follow the links below the videos to take the associated quizzes and earn your continuing education credits.

If you’d rather expand your knowledge by reading, check out these educational courses from Architectural Record and Architect, which also come with associated continuing education quizzes.

As you look toward the new year, we’d like to thank you for choosing us as your source of industry news and design inspiration in 2016. From gathering designers from around the world at the Vectorworks Design Summit to helping to previsualize the experience at Rock in Rio: Lisboa with Vision software, we’ve worked hard to empower designers across the globe to create unmatched experiences — and we look forward to continuing to partner with you as you grow your business and your design capabilities in 2017.

We’re welcoming a new addition to our Vectorworks family. Tecnología Dinámica de México (TDM) will be partnering with us to better serve our Mexican design community.

“Coinciding with our efforts toward growing our global design community, we saw Mexico as the perfect place to support the increasing needs of local designers,” says Vectorworks CEO Dr. Biplab Sarkar. “It’s of the utmost importance for our users in Mexico to have easy access to both our software and to technical support in their native language, and we know that Tecnología Dinámica de México will offer top-notch services.”

Now our sole distributor in Mexico, TDM will be uniting with Arquidesk, a well-established Vectorworks trainer. Both companies have been independent dealers of Vectorworks software for over seven years. Javier Angel Sánchez González, architect and manager at Arquidesk, will combine both his industry and Vectorworks knowledge with TDM engineer Marco Antonio Martínez’s sales and marketing experience to create an invaluable resource for local designers.

“Arquidesk and Tecnología Dinámica de México are excited about this new era, and we are confident about the product,” says Martínez. “Joining together, we will concentrate all of our resources on making this new partnership a success, including the best training, customer support, credit options, university partnerships, seminars, webinars, expos, and much more.”

Currently, the Spanish and English versions of the entire Vectorworks 2017 product line, and Vision software in English, will be available for purchase through TDM over the phone at +52 (55) 8116-0193 ext. 95 or by email at Current students enrolled in a college or university program in Mexico are eligible for free educational software through our student portal.

Learn more about our recent Spanish release of Vectorworks 2017 by watching our “Spanish What’s New in Vectorworks Webinar” or visiting

As 2016 is winding down, we’re looking forward to a bright and exciting 2017 and our third annual Vectorworks Design Summit. Taking place from September 18 to 20, 2017, we’re inviting designers from every corner of the world to our home turf – Baltimore, Maryland for a conference all about hands-on, industry-focused training that will help you grow your skills, your business, and your network of connections. It also promises an in-depth look at Vectorworks 2018 software, which is slated to be released in fall of 2017.


Are you on the edge of your seat with anticipation for next year’s #VectorworksDesignSummit? Don’t just take our word for it; last year’s attendees weren’t shy about how excited they were to attend the Summit. From long-time users looking to better their skills…

… to designers new to Vectorworks software, there was something new for everyone to discover. And with two amazing keynotes, plenty of hands-on training, and even a few parties, it’s safe to say that attendees left feeling energized.

So, if you’re looking to continue improving your design skills next year, look no further. Jumpstart your New Year by signing up to receive Design Summit updates when registration opens, and make sure to mark off September 18 through September 20 on your calendar!

By Martyn Horne, Group Product Development, Exertis Unlimited

During the eighth annual Build Earth Live competition this fall, I’m excited to say that my team, BIM Unlimited, won the BEST MULTI-DISCIPLINARY BIM & USE OF INTEROPERABILITY award. This virtual, global design competition revolved around three sites in the Arabian Peninsula. As with previous competitions in the Build Earth Live series, such as London, Sydney, and New York (which we also participated in), teams had just 48 hours to publish their proposals to Asite’s Adoddle cloud-based collaboration platform. The competition and subsequent award is in recognition of the best project submitted combining work from multiple disciplines, applications, and open file types.

This year, the competition required the teams to design multiple terminals and infrastructure for a Hyperloop train prototype connecting Dubai and Fujairah, which, if built, would reduce travel time between the two cities to 10 minutes. The seven finalists were chosen from a pool of 250 registrants working in 65 teams from 29 countries around the world. The competition attracted attention from international media, including one million views for the hashtag #BELHyperloop and 130,000 interactions on Twitter.


As the BIM Unlimited team captain for the event, I led an international team with an objective to create innovative architecture within an organized and collaborative BIM workflow.

This year’s brief was tougher than ever before. Not satisfied with asking the teams to produce one building proposal in one city in 48 hours, the organizers asked the teams to design three Hyperloop train terminals linking the three transport hubs of Al Maktoum International Airport, Dubai International Airport, and Fujairah International Airport, as well as providing the Hyperloop track infrastructure and route between the three terminals.

Our submission included work from the disciplines of architecture, interior architecture, landscape architecture, structural engineering, pedestrian simulation, environmental analysis, BIM project management, and BIM verification.

With regard to tools and workflows, the team members each used their preferred software and exchanged their BIM models using IFC. Our team also welcomed research students from the University of Tokyo and Tokyo University of Science with expertises in environmental analysis and external airflow led by Yasin Idris. Truly demonstrating our open and interoperable BIM approach, we also integrated an extra team member, Gregory Fortune, into our workflow with only a few hours to go before the event, as he was looking for a team to join. Gregory provided work on the track route concepts and also the Hyperloop passenger and freight payload space requirements.

Our use of Vectorworks Architect and Landmark software gave us the opportunity to manage all the urban information as a GIS process. For the first step, we imported the three distinct IFC site models provided as part of the brief. Each site was correctly georeferenced using real-world latitude and longitude coordinates. This was critical for establishing an important requirement of the brief, namely the design of the track route between the three train terminals. An airflow analysis of the site using FlowDesigner was also instrumental at this stage to simulate wind patterns over the localized site and existing buildings using weather data.

Our team’s response to the brief sets out to address the needs of the urban environment while also considering energy-use, so we approached the project with these four fundamental points in mind: efficiency, sustainability, cost effectiveness, and fresh aesthetics. For example, our proposed track takes the shortest and most direct route, ensuring the minimum travel time, without interfering with existing airports or another infrastructure.


“By placing the terminals at the points where the Hyperloop needs to change direction, it minimizes the travel time and creates a more user-friendly experience,” architect and BIM Unlimited team member Rubén Hernández Fontana explains. “We proposed three terminals and a loop which connects them in a parallel system without tangling, allowing the entire journey of 258 km to be undertaken in 11 minutes and 50 seconds. The curved footprint of the buildings not only demonstrates their relationship to the loop, but it is also a geometry that comes as a result of the detailed environmental airflow analysis.”

The non-rectangular footprint of the design concept, with its interplay of internal and external space, meant that instant feedback of critical area quantities was invaluable throughout the design process. This was enabled by the Space tool in Vectorworks Architect, which also allowed for an immediate evaluation of the areas per the brief, not only defining all the spaces but also their occupancy rates.

“Each terminal is conceived as an oasis — as a form giver for places of interchange, such as services, food, stores, businesses, parking, and security,” describes Architect Irina Angelo. “Working as a node, the project is always surrounded by soft and green spaces, while also functioning as an open space in general terms. As an example of this, the air circulates as a conveyor, extracting hot air through big holes that penetrate the building roofs acting as chimneys. And for the wraparound façade, the perforated modular panels allow for natural ventilation while blocking 70 percent of the sun’s radiation and allowing for natural, dappled light to enter the space.”

From the outset, it was our aim to develop a building that would mitigate the high turbulences evident on the downward side of the building and to minimize the rapid increase of wind velocity near the building’s edge. Our team members from the University of Tokyo provided airflow analysis feedback of the initial massing studies. The offset, curved footprint of the arrival and departure terminals provided a good wind analysis pattern creating calm, sheltered zones on its downwind side, which is where we situated the parks. Further calming of the wind speed experienced in the park areas was achieved by creating a phoenix palm tree forest in front and upwind of the buildings.

Pedestrian flow analysis was also undertaken early on using the Vectorworks plug-in for SimTread software. Here, Takeshi Kimura was able to confirm that the design could accommodate the peak pedestrian foot traffic as specified by the brief. Takeshi presented several real-time animations to demonstrate that the architectural layout presented no crunch points or delays to the movement of people either through the terminals or when embarking or disembarking the Hyperloop trains themselves.


The space layout objects and early concept massing model also allowed the structural engineers (via Scia Engineer software) to begin working on IFC files exported out of Vectorworks Architect by the architectural team. The team’s BIM Validation and Analysis Manager David Oliveira then carried out clash tests, evacuation escape route analyses, and room accessibility tests at this stage in Solibri Model Checker. “The Build Earth Live events are a great example of what can be created in the short timeframe allowed when team disciplines work collaboratively and in parallel,” Olivera said. “In this particular case, we were able to run a series of space program validations, even within the very early stages of design, due to the spaces in the IFC models.”

A similarly collaborative process took place for the Hyperloop track system, which was elevated on concrete pylons. Designed in Vectorworks Architect and analyzed structurally in SCIA by Rodrigo Couto, the IFC files were then taken into Synchro 4D Software, where the fourth dimension of time was added, to create phased construction schedule worksheets and associated 4D sequencing animations which demonstrated the associated construction sequence.

As another example of parallel working, Architects Jonathan Reeves and Fortune from the Palace of Westminster created a series of proposals for both the track routes and the design of the Hyperloop train module, along with the low-pressure tube in which it travels. Their deliverables ranged from space models to developed coordination models and rendered visuals, all of which communicated and documented the constant refinement of the design as the project evolved. Reeves took Fortune’s AutoCAD files and developed them in Vectorworks Architect before rendering them in Vectorworks’ integrated rendering feature set: Renderworks.


“I was able to federate the existing site buildings and the designers DWG models alongside the native Vectorworks Architect files and render them in a single solution,” Reeves said. “The flexible and powerful free form and parametric modeling tools available in Vectorworks 2017, combined with realistic built-in rendering via Renderworks, made developing and visualizing the complex geometrical forms rapid and streamlined. My design response was to explore the modeling of a typical section of the Hyperloop that was suitable for the urban environment above ground. Initially, I modeled the four passenger and freight pods, and encased them within the structural tube to establish the form and size of the Hyperloop. Then, I used the Surface Array tool in Vectorworks to model the complex surface façade treatment, which allowed me to rapidly explore the effect of altering the base surface, and the array item itself to explore different geometries inspired by traditional Arabic patterns. The legs supporting the Hyperloop were modeled as organic concrete forms using the Subdivision solids modeling tools in Vectorworks. This allowed me to rapidly explore a range of organic forms and options with ease without needing any other software.”

And finally, the team’s presentation was completed with a series of associative plans, sections, and elevations generated directly from the BIM file within Vectorworks Architect. With such tight deadlines, the fact that an adjustment to the model creates instant, automatic changes to the related drawings means that the team can concentrate on refining the design all the way through to the finish line. Having been involved in a number of these events, from a personal perspective, it’s great to see how year after year, the various individuals from different disciplines are refining the collaborative process while at the same time producing increasingly sophisticated proposals to increasingly challenging briefs. It’s also great to see new team members come in and each time add something new to the experience.

In summary, both veterans and newcomers to the team all agree they took away a lot from their involvement in the competition and will look to apply their new knowledge back to their respective work. Beyond the award itself, the real value of an event like this is the experience it affords the team members involved. Judging by the demand from the BIM Unlimited team members to make sure they are involved in the next event, it’s safe to conclude that the experience was very valuable indeed.

Proving that just like fine wine, innovation gets better with age, Itten+Brechbühl AG, a Swiss architectural office and general planner company with almost 100 years of experience, was honored at the first BIM-Prize of Switzerland Awards, organized by Arc Award and Bauen digital Schweiz. Itten+Brechbühl took home the gold in the Innovation/Performance category for their advanced use of BIM in designing the SwissFEL project, one of the most remarkable research buildings in Switzerland.

Andreas Jöhri, President of the Board of Directors of Itten+Brechbühl AG, accepts the award.

Andreas Jöhri, President of the Board of Directors of Itten+Brechbühl AG, accepts the award.

Technology at the Highest Level
Commissioned by the Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), a research institute of the Swiss university ETH Zurich, the SwissFEL building is home to one of four free-electron X-ray lasers in the world. At 760-meters, the largely underground system is also one of the longest buildings in Switzerland. Using X-ray flashes produced in a tunnel, the laser allows PSI researchers to examine materials at the molecular and atomic levels in adjacent experimental areas. Insights gained from this research are used to develop effective drugs, more efficient chemical processes in the pharmaceutical industry, and more sustainable energy generation.

A feat of precision and engineering, Itten+Brechbühl’s creative use of BIM was essential to fulfilling SwissFEL’s extraordinary requirements. The project team had to plan multiple, geometrically difficult, multi-crossing and S-shaped open-tube connections, while also coordinating their distances relative to each other to meet radiation protection requirements. Coordinating these connections would have been impossible without 3D planning and clash detection. The team used Vectorworks Architect to create the complex BIM design, and then our industry partner product Solibri Model Checker to search the 3D building model for possible inconsistencies and clash detection.

An Unrivaled Building
The SwissFEL’s extensive building technology ensures a stable temperature within the structure plus or minus one-tenth of a degree Celsius, and as close to a vibration-free environment as possible. Even the earth’s curvature, though only a few millimeters in variation over the length of the building, was considered and balanced using the latest surveying technology.

Picture courtesy of Itten+Brechbühl AG

Picture courtesy of Itten+Brechbühl AG

Due to the complexity of the installed system, Itten+Brechbühl’s BIM leader, Marc Pancera, said they set out to achieve a high degree of planning security. He presented a comprehensive report on the project at the Vectorworks User Day on November 29, 2016 in Zürich, Switzerland.

In addition to meeting the technical requirements for SwissFEL, the Itten+Brechbühl architects also ensured the building had a high-quality architectural design. They created a modern and pleasant work environment throughout the underground research facility. As the awards jury emphasized, this top-tier research center also has a top-notch architectural appearance.

Discover more notable projects by Vectorworks software users on our case studies page.

Whether you are brand new to 3D modeling or a seasoned pro, everyone has something to learn from “The Art and Function of 3D Modeling” webinar, now available on demand. In just 60 minutes, Luis Ruiz, senior product specialist at Vectorworks, demonstrates how the tools and capabilities of Vectorworks software allow users to create beautiful 3D projects all within the program.


This continuing education webinar explores a wide range of 3D modeling operations from the simple Extrude tool to parametric modeling using Marionette. Ruiz highlights the importance of working in 3D by walking viewers through each tool and demonstrating his workflows for example projects.


After watching the webinar, take this test to earn 1 AIA LU. And if you want to keep learning about making the switch to 3D workflows, register for the December 13 webinar, “Transitioning from 2D Drafting to 3D Modeling,” also worth 1 AIA LU.