Seventy percent of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050, and Adrian McGregor doesn’t think urban areas are ready to handle this increase. That’s why the landscape architecture and urban design firm McGregor Coxall is dedicated to preparing the built environment for increased population density, as well as environmental and economic changes in the coming decades.

McGC Staff photo“I’m passionate about the challenges that human beings are facing globally in terms of our environment, and I want to help cities grow in a sustainable way,” says Managing Director McGregor. His approach to design is the subject of a new success story video that explores the firm’s design philosophy and showcases some projects including Ballast Point Park, a transformative reclamation of an abandoned oil lubricant production facility that is now home to an engaging, sustainable public park in Sydney, Australia.


McGregor Coxall’s list of accolades includes the Topos Journal International Landscape Architecture Practice of the Year and the Prime Minister’s Australia Award for Urban Design, to name just a few. Their work encompasses over 300 projects from across Europe, Asia, and Australia, from incredible landscapes like Ballast Point to urban revitalizations like the Parramatta River Urban Design Strategy. This project reorients one of Sydney’s largest Central Business Districts back toward the waterway that it’s built on to create a vibrant public and commercial space while also introducing environmentally friendly design features that improve the health of the river’s ecosystem.

337SU_Parramatta City_McGregor Coxall_07Designers at McGregor Coxall didn’t just think of the environment when creating the Urban Design Strategy. They also considered the people who would use the space. “We’re working with the community and the stakeholders to create a very broad, deep conversation with the city as a whole,” McGregor says. “It’s allowing us to deliver what I think is going to be an important and fantastic project where landscape architecture is shaping the urban environment.”

337SU_Parramatta City_McGregor Coxall_01Explore these projects and McGregor Coxall’s creative process, which includes the use of Vectorworks Landmark software, in our latest written case study.


If time is money, we’re about to save you some serious cash. These quick videos will help you pick up a few tricks that will shorten your workflow, increase your productivity, and let you get back to creative design.

Your light plot is already set up with lighting positions, label legends, and focus points—all you need now are the lights! From gel colors to field values, this video has all the information you need to ensure your light plots are accurate and easy to work with.

DWG files containing 2D topographical information may be helpful to designers, but they aren’t very visually appealing to prospective clients. This three-minute video walks you through transforming this 2D data into a 3D model with just a few simple steps. Your workflow just got a whole lot easier.

If ESP Vision software is a part of your design process, you’ll be happy to learn that ESP Symbols for use in Vectorworks software programs are now Renderworks compliant. That’s right, any model you create with ESP Vision symbols can now be used to create Renderworks stills without any modification. Check out just what you can do in the video below.

Finally, we released Service Pack 4 for Vectorworks 2015 today. You can download the update 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.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns please reach out to us at or tweet at us @VectorworksHelp.

Explore the ingenuity of BIM workflows and the impact of technology on creativity with renowned architects-turned-authors, Richard Garber, AIA, Principal, GRO Architects, PLLC, and Director of the School of Architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and François Lévy, AIA, Principal, Lévy Kohlhaas Architecture.

Business of Creativity

In the latest from Nemetschek Vectorworks’ series Business of Creativity, these accomplished architects present illuminating perspectives that highlight how creativity can flourish within the virtual building platforms provided by BIM-capable software. Listen in as they share insights about architectural education, the ever-evolving world of building technology, and the business of maintaining your inspiration, even in the fast-paced design industry.

Part one aired in June and is now archived. So watch it now and register for part two.

Watch past episodes of Business of Creativity and learn more about how you can earn continuing education credits and stay inspired here.

Working for a small firm doesn’t mean you can’t make big changes. Just ask Nathan Kipnis, FAIA, LEED BD+C, principal of Kipnis Architecture + Planning. Throughout his career, Kipnis has challenged design paradigms by blending excellence in architecture with a social conscience as part of a five-person architectural team.

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 1.15.57 PM

Recognized in his home state of Illinois and across the country, Kipnis has received accolades ranging from the 2011 Green Home Awards from Chicago Magazine to the Home of the Decade from Natural Home Magazine. This year, he was elevated as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, a tremendous accomplishment that acknowledges his outstanding contributions to sustainability in architecture.

The honor was unexpected for Kipnis. “To be honest, it wasn’t on my radar. Because my firm is small, I don’t expect to be recognized on a national-level, but I’m proud that my peers have done that based on my sustainable designs and my public outreach work with the AIA’s National 2030 Commitment Working Group.”

A long-time Vectorworks user, Kipnis cites the software’s history of effective modeling capabilities which provides him with a solid platform to create innovative, environmentally friendly designs. “Vectorworks can model so quickly,” says Kipnis, “that we can see how the environment – the trees, the sun, the wind – will affect a structure in real time. A lot companies do it now, but Vectorworks has been doing it for a very long time.”

One of the projects Kipnis is most passionate about is the advanced development of the offshore wind farm concept to be located off of Evanston, Illinois’ shoreline. That’s right, he wants to build a wind farm in Lake Michigan. Evanston is uniquely situated for this innovative sustainability solution because it features a long stretch of non-residential waterfront and relatively shallow waters. Combine that with wind speeds across the lake that average over 20 miles per hour, and Kipnis reports that this would-be wind farm could generate enough power for 50,000 to 80,000 homes.

While the project has yet to set sail, Kipnis has served as a driving force in the push for a reduced carbon footprint for the city. The project moves forward in starts and stops because “it’s incredibly political at the national level,” observes Kipnis. “Despite being one of the most effective measure for reducing our C02 emissions, we’ve experienced varying degrees of push back.”

Some opponents to the wind farm note that its development would disrupt the aesthetic value of Lake Michigan. “At seven miles offshore, the view of the turbines would be very small. Other forms of power generation that rely on extractive forms of energy are much more intrusive,” says Kipnis. “Part of this is that it is an unknown to a lot of people. Once the first offshore wind farms are up and running, I believe this will be much less of an issue. The first offshore wind farm will be operational in 2016, in the waters of off Rhode Island.”

Further, opponents of wind farms often cite the cost of offshore wind as another drawback of wind power. Kipnis acknowledges the upfront cost will be substantial. “Over time, the price will decline,” says Kipnis. “The cost is on a fairly significant downward slope, and it is anticipated that it’ll be very cost-effective within a decade, powering thousands of homes very economically.”

Offshore Windfarm

The final argument against the wind farm is the potential wildlife impact. Older, land-based turbines, in particular, posed serious issues for songbirds and birds of prey. Kipnis states that, based on extensive research, the overall impact is actually quite small.  “Extractive-fueled power plants have extremely serious environmental impacts, such as mercury emissions and deforestation from acid rain at coal plants, and thermal kill from heating up the surrounding cooling waters at nuclear and coal plants. There are a whole lot of potential issues with fracked natural gas as well. In this instance, it’s about the ‘precautionary principle.’ When you look at the various options carefully, wind power is about as benign as it gets.”

Kipnis explains that construction of the Evanston wind farm would take advantage of years of research about how to responsibly integrate the turbines into the environment to mitigate risk. By building taller towers, doing comprehensive analysis for their proper siting, and modifying operation during times of migration, the wind farm would provide substantive environmental benefits while respecting the surrounding wildlife.

Slowly, Kipnis’ work is causing the winds of change to blow across Lake Michigan. “We are at a very interesting time where extractive energy is becoming more expensive and its environmental impacts are finally being acknowledged, while at the same time costs for renewable energy are rapidly falling.  A clean source of energy could be built just beyond our shoreline,” says Kipnis. “It’s time to move ahead.”


By Diego Bermudez, Winner of the 2014 Vectorworks Design Scholarship and Richard Diehl Award

Do it! That’s the best advice I can give to anyone who’s considering applying to the Vectorworks Design Scholarship, an annual program where students from across the design disciplines can submit their best work for a chance to win $10,000. As last year’s grand prize winner, I can say from personal experience that it’s definitely worth it. But if you’re still feeling a little unsure, or if you’re a professional who wants to pass on some advice to an upcoming design student, here are five tips on how to create a winning entry.

Left to right: Scholarship judge David Chadwick, Nemetschek Vectorworks founder Rich Diehl, and 2014 Scholarship winner Diego Bermudez

Don’t Procrastinate

It took me an entire semester to create my project, “Circasia: Engaging the Creeks,” which focused on redefining the relationship between the people and the environment in a coffee-growing community in Colombia. Understanding the site and its ecology, as well as the inhabitants and their perceptions of the creeks adjacent to their town, took a lot of time. If I had put off doing all of the research about the site, I wouldn’t have been able to create the in-depth presentation that impressed the judges.

Circasia MasterplanAsk for Feedback

I met with my studio professors, David Gouverneur and Oscar Grauer, twice a week while I was working on my project, and they guided me through turning my simple idea into a full-fledged master plan. Their knowledge of social and environmental issues was incredibly helpful. With their insight, I was really able to push the envelope and design a paradigm shift in how the people of Circasia interact with their natural resources.

Circasia TopographyPrepare to Lose Motivation

It was very easy to lose motivation during the semester with such a big project. I did a lot of work to shape the project very early, but making the presentation beautiful and planning for the little details took a lot of effort. I spent almost half the semester thinking about how I wanted to convey my ideas. Setting up the framework early helps to prevent burnout because you don’t have to start from scratch after you’re already that far into the semester. Also, it helps to submit a project that you’re already working on for class. Knowing your GPA depends on getting your project done is great motivation!

Circasia DetailsFocus on Your Impact

Since you only have to write a couple hundred words for each question, I knew that I had to excite the judges in a few concise sentences. The most important thing that I conveyed is the impact that my project would have on the community in Circasia. Precisely detailing how my project could improve the ecology of the creeks and the quality of life for the townspeople is what I think gave my submission an edge.

Circasia Street PlanPrepare Your “Elevator Pitch”

Make sure that you can explain your whole project to someone in the time it would take to ride an elevator. Synthesizing all that information into a succinct speech will help you when you’re preparing your submission. Plus, if you win the scholarship, then you’ll know what to say when everybody asks you about your work!

What are you waiting for? The deadline to submit is August 31, 2015. Apply now.

Circasia Public Space

By Martyn Horne, Member of the UK Landscape Institute’s BIM Working Group

There are big changes on the horizon for landscape architects and designers, especially in the UK where all project and asset information, documentation, and data must be electronic and managed within a collaborative workflow by 2016 because of the BIM Level 2 Mandate. While working within the same program isn’t required, the CAD software that each party uses must be capable of exporting to one of the common exchange formats, such as COBie (Construction Operations Building Information Exchange).

COBie specs

In order to meet the mandate, there’s a strong focus on managing and maintaining all of the assets associated with a design in a single dataset that corresponds to a common standard. It’s all about “putting the I in BIM” and getting your data in order from the earliest stages of your project.

While this transition is intended to increase collaboration throughout the design, construction, and implementation processes and decrease costly in-field errors along the way, there is pushback. Often architects and other designers remark that COBie simply doesn’t work or that it stifles creativity.

However, those complaints are rooted in “FUD” – fear, uncertainty, and doubt – and it has bred the misconception that COBie complicates early stages of the design process.

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Rather than being bogged down by COBie, remember that it’s not an all or nothing process. Your BIM workflows are best complemented by “data drops” of increasing complexity and detail, as well as an understanding that this is an evolving process that will improve as more architects, designers, and manufactures come together to get our data in order.

For more information about how COBie and BIM are transforming the UK and beyond, read my recent article at Adjacent Digital Politics.


If the audible gasps from attendees at our Vectorworks Design Summit are any indication, the potential for injecting point cloud data into the design process is awe-inspiring. In fact, when our CTO Dr. Biplab Sarkar delivered his keynote address and revealed how we plan to support the technology in our 2016 release this fall, the enthusiasm was infectious.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 8.57.57 AMNo longer a science fiction pipedream, point cloud technology provides a real way for designers to model efficiently and affordably with more accuracy than ever before, making modeling, inferring, and referencing data easier. To show off the new capability, we partnered with technology solutions company Trimble to produce a highly detailed 3D scan of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the location for one of our evening events at the Summit, and transport that data directly into Vectorworks software.

point cloud pic 2

“Scanning technology is being adopted today to increase accuracy, efficiency, and to provide new services to the AEC industry,” said David Burczyk, segment manager-field solutions for the Trimble MEP Division of Trimble Navigation. “As design and construction teams adopt the technology as part of their standard BIM workflow, scanning will become more accessible and continue to evolve.”

Burczyk began the data collection process by setting up a Trimble TX8 laser scanner on a tripod in 29 locations around the museum’s atrium space. Each scan took three minutes, after which Burczyk captured high-resolution color images to create a complete dataset. Next, he registered the individual scans and combined them into one composite point cloud – consisting of three billion data points and representing 15,900 square feet of gallery space – using Trimble RealWorks. This target-less process automatically finds common planes in each individual scan to organize the data. Once registered, the point cloud can be used for 3D modeling and analysis.

point cloud pic 1

Working with Trimble on the museum project is just one way we’re exploring the possibilities of how Vectorworks users might implement such technology in the future. For example, once you import a point cloud into a Vectorworks file, you may manipulate everything from point density to coloration to scale. You’ll even be able to utilize the Clip Cube tool within the point cloud, isolating sections you want to reference within the data. This capability is what really got Summit attendees excited!

“The Philadelphia Museum of Art project provided a great opportunity for us to study the integration of real-world data into Vectorworks software, and our import of the highly accurate, laser-scanned museum point cloud was so real that it felt like we were standing in the middle of the museum with tape measure in hand,” said Steve Johnson, senior manager of user interaction and research at Nemetschek Vectorworks. “Every point in the dataset had color, and we could walk or fly anywhere in the virtual model and measure with great accuracy. It was stunning.”

Stay tuned for more information about our point cloud support capabilities as we get closer to the release of Vectorworks 2016. In the meantime, watch a preview video and learn more about the Nemetschek Group’s recent partnership with Trimble here.

The Manazuru Peninsula unfolds into scenic Sagami Bay in a shape reminiscent of a crane with outstretched wings. This peaceful locale, home to the Kazumasa Nakagawa Art Museum, Cape Manazuru, and the centuries-old Kifune-jinja Shrine, revolves around an appreciation for the sea. It’s this seaside aesthetic that the design team at MOUNT FUJI ARCHITECTS STUDIO called upon when designing Shore House, which recently earned the firm the Japan Institute of Architects’ Best New Architect Award, honoring talented architects and their work.

© Ken’ichi Suzuki

Situated in the rolling hills at the base of the peninsula, Shore House is enclosed by trees from the land but remains wide open to the Pacific Ocean, offering stunning views of the rich, natural surroundings without sacrificing privacy. These surroundings create an ideal vacation home that sates the client’s love of beachcombing and desire for a retreat to enjoy with friends and family.

© Ken'ichi Suzuki

© Ken’ichi Suzuki

The form of Shore House is inspired by the family’s enthusiasm for beachcombing. By taking a variety of materials washed upon the shore and heeding their individual voices and characteristics, the materials come together logically into a form expressing how they hope to be. In this instance, an order is not an absolute dictate but rather a dynamic and supple state that continuously adjusts through considering the relationship between materials and environment. In the same way, Shore House is arranged in a manner that could be seen as chaotic but is actually a reflection of, and adaption to, its environment.


© Ken’ichi Suzuki

Designed with Vectorworks Fundamentals software, the building is divided into three sections of different sizes, each positioned in a way that simultaneously clashes and complements the others. This disorganization follows the landscape’s natural contours, such as the edge of the sea, the tree line, and the intangible solidity of space, creating a dialogue between the structure and its surroundings. Shore House’s harmonious design aesthetic also prompted the inclusion of multiple terraces along the edges of the building, providing more places for the occupants to take in the striking scenery.


© Ken'ichi Suzuki

© Ken’ichi Suzuki

“The dialogue relationship between the architecture and the nearby geography allows the design to expand endlessly because the order of the design is open to the surroundings,” says Masahiro Harada, principal of MOUNT FUJI ARCHITECTS STUDIO. “The purpose of our design is to create a benevolent harmony between Shore House and the world.”

© Ken'ichi Suzuki

© Ken’ichi Suzuki

To view more of MOUNT FUJI ARCHITECTS STUDIO’s work, visit their portfolio.

Each year at the AIA National Convention, a select number of architects who are making outstanding contributions to the industry through design excellence, furthering the field of architectural education, or advancing the profession are elevated as Fellows of the American Institute of Architects. It’s a tremendous honor that has been bestowed on a select few AIA members, including Janis Kent, architect, CASp. We recently sat down with Kent to learn more about what makes her stand out in her field and pick up a few tips on accessibility planning. Here’s what we learned:

Kent has made a powerful niche for herself within the architecture industry as an expert in all things related to accessibility. Since the mid-80s, California-based Kent has worked as an architect, consultant, and speaker, focusing much of her energy on surveying facilities for accessibility compliance and providing quality control expertise throughout the United States.

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Kent’s position as a thought leader within the industry was solidified by the publication of Stepping Thru Accessibility Details, now in its second edition. Her ability to guide readers through the many complexities of securing compliance with the standards set forth in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), in both her book and seminars, made Kent a standout choice for the AIA Fellowship.

“Elevation to the College of Fellows resonates with me on a number of levels,” says Kent. “It’s been a long time since someone was recognized for their work with accessibility. This is such an important topic, yet often it is not acknowledged nor fully grasped and implemented. Being elected represents a big step for access in the built environment.”

Accessibility is a topic of increasing importance. Kent implores that it’s a growing cultural imperative, especially with an aging Baby Boomer generation making up a significant demographic in the United States, requiring spaces to be more accommodating.

According to Kent, there are a few key things to keep in mind when you’re designing for accessibility:

1. Remember the answer to all accessibility questions is often, “It depends.”

When you’re designing spaces for commercial purposes, things are rarely cut and dry. Instead, there are federal, state, and local laws and guidelines that can affect your accessibility considerations. Take, for example, whether you must include an elevator in an older two-story commercial building. “The answer to this, of course, is it depends,” says Kent.

The size, function, location, and type of construction determine whether you are required to include an elevator. If a building has less than 3,000 square feet per floor or only has two stories, an elevator is not generally required. However, if it contains retail spaces, medical facilities, or public agencies, vertical accessibility must be provided.Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 2.02.49 PM

2. Accessibility considerations are like a jigsaw puzzle.

Designing for people with disabilities adds a layer of complexity to even the most thorough BIM workflows. With each requirement from the ADA, state law, and city guideline, each corner and room you’re virtually constructing becomes a more complicated riddle.

Kent remarks that restrooms are one of the more difficult spaces to design because they have “so many different requirements. It’s like a large jigsaw puzzle that changes every time you find a piece that fits. You’re constantly working to make everything align properly.”

To avoid frustration, be sure that you’re educated about each law and guideline that will affect your building in advance – and employ BIM workflows to minimize excessive redrawing of existing plans.

3. Understand that permits don’t always mean ADA compliance.

“Many owners, developers, architects, and other design professionals believe that their building permits or certificates of occupancy signify compliance with ADA requirements and local guidelines” says Kent. “However, there’s no single agency that can provide approval for your project or product across the federal, state, and local levels.”

As such, do your research, know your field, and communicate openly with the would-be owner of your project as it is ultimately their responsibility to assure ADA and other accessibility compliance.

Have accessibility questions? Head on over to Kent’s blog to learn more.

Drumroll please…!

For the fourth year in a row, Vectorworks software products have received “BEST of SHOW” awards from Architosh during the AIA Convention. The leading online magazine dedicated to CAD and 3D software professionals and students worldwide, Architosh presents “BEST of SHOW” honors to the top design technologies making waves in the architectural industry. Vectorworks Designer 2015 won in this year’s Desktop category and Vectorworks Nomad 3.0 was one of three winners in the Mobile category.

As a complete BIM modeling tool, Vectorworks Designer 2015 “packs a big punch in the area of visualization and rendering options. And Vectorworks 2015 gave an official ‘thumbs up’ for 4K displays, something its peers have not yet done,” said Anthony Frausto-Robledo, AIA, LEED AP, the editor-in-chief of

With a perfect score at the product review level, Vectorworks Designer 2015 took first place in the Desktop category because of its industry-leading landscape architecture tools, new site modeling capabilities, and its competitive pricing model. No matter where you are in your workflow, Vectorworks Designer gives users the freedom to create from within a single platform – and that’s a remarkable tool.

In contrast to the Desktop awards, the Mobile category recognizes innovative software solutions that make designing on mobile devices easy and useful to your workflow, employing their strengths as lightweight, cloud-connected hardware.

Vectorworks NomadNomad 3.0 “gained a lot more power when the Vectorworks Graphics Module (VGM) technology was ported to the iOS environment, powering its new game-like 3D navigation with excellent rendering capacity,” said Frausto-Robledo. “This added much to an already solid cloud-driven solution that allows for dissemination of information, mark-up, and round-tripping information back to the CAD/BIM environment.”

Click here to learn more about Vectorworks Designer 2015 and click here to explore Nomad 3.0.