By Ilianna H. Kwaske, Ph.D., Managing Principal, Office Ron Kwaske, Architect

It is with speed, manipulability, and fluidity that Vectorworks 2015 is no longer just competing in design software, but leading. We have been using the program since 2009 and think that the Vectorworks 2015 software is the flagship release.

No Constraints and Fast

Our reasons for initially purchasing Vectorworks over five years ago were twofold: the program has rich graphic abilities, and it is native to the Mac operating system. While the BIM software we used for eight years was excellent at creating production drawings, it was restrictive in that you had to work within its prescribed workflow. For an office with diverse projects, that was difficult. Furthermore, the construction drawings were just not aesthetically pleasing. Part of the trademark of Office Ron Kwaske, Architect is to strive to make construction drawings as beautiful as our design renderings. Vectorworks allows us to do that.

In addition, Vectorworks has great 2D and 3D modeling capabilities. For our design intensive needs, there are no constraints. Its versatility is critical for a small office like ours — and probably for a large office, too. Between its advanced text tools, 2D vector graphics control, and BIM and 3D modeling capabilities, we can perform three or four critical functions all within the same software package.

Fluid Power to Manipulate

The Vectorworks Graphics Module (VGM) makes it easy to manipulate even complex forms. With the ability to pan, zoom, and walk through a project, Nemetschek Vectorworksʼ engineers have combined the best of Vectorworks modeling and BIM capabilities with a SketchUp-like design interface.

Recently, we used Vectorworks 2015 to produce renderings and schematic design for a new real estate office shown below. Under a very tight schedule (meaning hours, not days), we were able to design, seamlessly bring in components from SketchUpʼs 3D Warehouse, and create two incredible renderings with minimal third-party touch-up (e.g., Photoshop).

Moving Forward

Office Ron Kwaske, Architect has invested in the Vectorworks software, and we now pay a nominal service fee to maintain it in our office as members of the Vectorworks Service Select program. It is such a small price to pay for all of the benefits. We also consider Vectorworks an essential part of our arsenal of software that will help grow our business. We cannot contain our enthusiasm about this product and the new, 2015 version!

By Stewart Green, Associate Director at DP Architects

My firm, DP Architects, has specialized in high-quality residential and commercial design for over two decades. Our team used the same software platform for many years, but the upcoming Building Information Modeling (BIM) requirements in the UK, and its growth as an industry standard in general, prompted us to conduct an in-house review process to find software that better incorporates BIM into our workflow. Highlighted below are three major reasons why we chose Vectorworks Architect as our solution.

Rendering and 3D Design Capabilities

Before we started working with Vectorworks Architect and its add-on rendering application Renderworks, we designed primarily in 2D, using Photoshop for semi-realistic visuals. At the onset of our switch, we didn’t know whether we’d use Vectorworks software’s full 3D capabilities for most projects. However, as soon as we started producing drawings, we saw how easy it was to create 3D models and generate 2D plans, elevations, sections, and details. These drawings were rich in information and visually appealing. Utilizing color, fills, shading, hatching, and different rendering modes, especially hand-sketching effects, we can now craft design renderings that help us bring our clients’ projects to life—right before their eyes.

Intuitive Design Workflow

One of the biggest issues we had with our previous software was that it didn’t fit with our workflow. Overly complex drafting techniques and a lack of architectural drafting aids, particularly the absence of parametric symbols, made the need for change obvious. Vectorworks Architect is a very intuitive system with loads of built-in architectural tools and symbols. Though we started off only beginning new projects in Vectorworks and continuing current ones with our old software, we quickly realized the benefits of the speed and revision efficiency within the Vectorworks platform, especially when producing working drawings. We are now in the process of converting all of our existing designs into Vectorworks projects.

BIM Capabilities

The BIM features of Vectorworks software were the most important things we looked for during our review process. We examined two other major software programs, but they were either extremely expensive or overly complex and lacked the architectural content we needed. Vectorworks not only had the features I mentioned previously, but it made incorporating BIM into our workflows so easy that we began using it even though we aren’t currently involved in any projects that specifically require BIM. We’ve begun to train our whole staff in Vectorworks software using a BIM workflow, and everyone has quickly been gaining confidence with it.

My practice has only just scratched the surface of Vectorworks software’s capabilities. We are already moving toward creating realistic renderings and solar animations, as well as interior modeling, with 3D site modeling as our next goal.

My advice to any firm thinking of adopting a BIM workflow is to do your homework, plan ahead, and allocate time for training and support like we did with Design Software Solutions. Ultimately, you’ve just got to go for it! You won’t regret it, and soon you’ll be reaping the rewards of 3D modeling and wondering why you waited so long to start.

Last week, we recognized 15 students as 2014 Vectorworks Design Scholars and revealed that a project by Diego Bermudez, a landscape design graduate student from the University of Pennsylvania, was the top entry. Bermudez won the Richard Diehl Award, impressing judges with his creative solution to a real-world problem.

Bermudez’s submission, “Circasia: Engaging the Creeks,” is a detailed landscape design that uses master planning techniques and digital tools to reclaim an area devastated by waste dumping. Using 15 slides, Bermudez combines high-quality overlays and mapping techniques to convey a solution where small-scale, incremental housing allows citizens to reenter the area around the waste-filled creeks. The design redefines the relationship between the villages and the water and connects an urban population to its agrarian landscape.

“The birds’ eye view using massing models helps me feel what the space can become,” said judge Roberto Rovira, chair of the Landscape Architecture + Environmental and Urban Design Department at Florida International University. “He shows good graphics to forge a path out of darkness, creating a feeling that this will be a great place to live.”

In addition, Bermudez’s sensitivity to the environment demonstrates knowledge of plant material and shows diversity of subject matter. He acknowledges the large size of the project space but breaks his design down to the level of detail of selecting a plant material that enhances the living space. “Lots of people don’t do this in their work, and I commend him,” said Rovira. “He thought about ideas, got inspired, used technology to share his vision, and did a superb job.”

Bermudez noted, “I have always been interested in providing new and better opportunities for people, working almost exclusively in social urbanism. The scale doesn’t really matter; it can be a small vegetable garden providing food for a family or a whole new regional plan protecting people, water sources, forests, agricultural land, and cultural assets.”

He plans to use his award to visit places where the environment has shaped the design of the built environment, such as New Orleans or the Everglades. “The best way to learn landscape architecture is to visit diverse landscapes,” said Bermudez. “Books can give you insight, but being there in person gives you inspiration.”

Learn more about Nemetschek Vectorworks’ educational initiatives, including how to be notified when you can enter our 2015 scholarship program, by visiting our Academic Community webpage.

The English version of Vectorworks 2015 software has arrived! This release contains more than 100 updates and new features, as well as cloud and mobile solutions, and is ready for Vectorworks Service Select members to download from the portal today. Shipping to all customers will begin September 23, 2014. Design R Box

On Tuesday, September 9, Nemetschek Vectorworks CEO Sean Flaherty and CTO Biplab Sarkar held a press conference to share some details about what’s included in the latest version of Vectorworks software.

“With every new release, we concentrate on giving customers the enhancements and features they want, and, more importantly, what they need to make their visions come to reality faster, easier, and with more precision than ever before,” said Sarkar. “Vectorworks 2015 builds upon the functionality that is important to designers today, providing an experience that connects the dots between vision and realization in the most intuitive way possible.”

The new version is equipped with the power of 64-bit throughout the entire product line, allowing designers to handle projects of any size with better performance and stability. In previous versions, this state-of-the-art technology was only available in the platform’s award-winning CINEMA 4D render engine, Renderworks.

Another exciting enhancement to Vectorworks 2015 software is the innovative visualization engine, the Vectorworks Graphics Module (VGM), which premiered last year. Built exclusively for Vectorworks software by Nemetschek Vectorworks engineers, the improved VGM provides designers with a revolutionary graphical experience and unmatched visual control.

“We’re at a turning point where designers are discovering new ways to imagine and construct their projects,” said Flaherty. “Every day, designers choose Vectorworks because of our multidisciplinary approach and because they want a solution that supports their creative process instead of replacing it. We allow great design to materialize from inspiration, exploration, and discovery.”


Check out some additional features included in the new release:

  • Capture a seamless, visual transition with the new default setting for the render mode and projection when switching from Top/Plan to a 3D view.
  • Discover faster wireframe and planar graphics, and improved spatial relationships in the Wireframe rendering mode.
  • Bend, taper, or create a bulge with practically any geometric object with the Deform tool.
  • Transform the workflow for creating elevations and other presentation views with 3D Hatching in hidden line rendered views.
  • Add artistic flare and create beautiful elevations from your BIM with hidden line rendering to reveal a simple hatch on textured walls.
  • Efficiently create storefronts and glazing systems with new Curtain Wall tools, including Edit Curtain Wall for modifying all aspects of the wall directly.
  • Utilize a powerful new level constraint system for story organization for modeling wall-to-slab connections.
  • Draw, modify, and explore any rectangular wall network in a fraction of the time with the innovative rectangle wall mode and trim.
  • Conveniently use PDF cropping, snapping control, and support for PDF/A for archiving.
  • See improved import meshes and support for SketchUp textures.
  • Realize the new import and export support for industry-standard STEP files and improved STL export.
  • Uncover new gradient options for color control and transparency.
  • Obtain greater control when setting terrain-modifying pads on sites with the new Pad from Grade Limits command and automatically identify potential conflicts.
  • Calculate areas based on the surface slopes with the Landscape Area tool.
  • Annotate, measure, and adjust locations for more control and accuracy over the slope of grade objects at varying distances with the new Grade tool.
  • Visually navigate with symbols, 3D images, and model options in the new viewable directory for Plant libraries.
  • Model more efficiently with new stage objects like edging, legs, bracing, and casters.
  • Create supports for speakers, trusses, and other stage equipment with the adjustable-height Stage Lift object.
  • Discover efficient lighting device options and documentation settings for faster light plots.
  • Fly over, walkthrough, and zoom in and out of textured and shaded 3D models with the enhanced 3D viewing in the Vectorworks Nomad mobile app.
  • Learn about the new mobile application Vectorworks Remote, which is available to all Vectorworks users, and connects mobile devices directly to Vectorworks for viewing, navigating, and presenting designs remotely.

We invite you to discover and experiment. Design without limitations. Design with Vectorworks. Visit to learn more.

By Susanne Dengenis, Director of Global Marketing, Synchro Software Ltd.

4D BIM is the next generation of project management, including project planning and scheduling, data analytics, and management. 4D literally adds vision. It integrates detailed spatial data from the BIM model. The ability to visualize your project and analyze dynamic spatial data on your computer before you break ground creates a practice field for the delivery team that is highly engaging and efficient. In an industry where processes haven’t changed for decades, this is revolutionary!

According to a McGraw-Hill Construction SmartMarket Report, 74 percent of North American construction firms have adopted BIM in some capacity. When compared to separately reviewing stacks of 2D drawings and design plans with stacks of 2D Gantt charts, or even the more detailed network diagram, and then having to discuss all of that information with the delivery team, the benefits of BIM are huge. With 4D BIM, teams are sitting together to review a real time simulation of the project. Everyone shares the same vision quickly and efficiently, ideas are discussed, and knowledge and experience are shared. Changes can be made instantly, different approaches can be tested for impacts, and clashes can be discovered early in the process. 4D visualization is helping transform the entire delivery process, but software alone doesn’t transform an organization; people and processes must be at the center of this effort. In construction, planners and schedulers are at the center of the process. They are a key success factor of the delivery team and should play a key role in technology decision-making. Great results come from cooperation between all team members, from the executives to the laborers.

There are a number of different technologies on the market that provide varying levels of true 4D integration. Designers should look for a tool that maintains the integrity of their project plans, where efficiency and time savings are maximized by simulating projects in real time, and changes can be made without the need to re-input data to analyze different approaches. Many systems are little more than movies that help tell the story of the project through the 4D process, but these methods have little value as a management tools because they don’t create or maintain the integrity of the project plans and schedules.

What are the benefits? A study by the Stanford University Center for Integrated Facilities Engineering (CIFE) on 32 major projects using BIM indicates that it eliminates up to 40 percent of the unbudgeted design changes, provides savings of up to ten percent of the contract value through static clash detections, and provides up to a seven percent reduction in project time.

Learn more about our 4D scheduling and construction project management software and our partnership with Nemetschek Vectorworks on the Industry Partners page of their website.

The Vectorworks Design Scholarship program awarded more than $50,000 in scholarships today to promising design students around the world who impressed judges with their imagination and creativity. Fifteen students from eight countries will receive $3,000 to support their studies. Their schools will also receive Vectorworks software licenses and training.

Judges selected University of Pennsylvania landscape architecture student Diego Bermudez as having the top overall entry, so he also won the Richard Diehl Award and an additional $7,000 USD. Bermudez was recognized for his entry, “Circasia: Engaging the Creeks,” because of his superb use of digital tools to demonstrate how reclaiming an area devastated by poor use fosters human interaction. His project redefines the relationship between the villages and creeks in a rapidly growing coffee community in Colombia.

A global panel of judges evaluated nearly 1,000 submissions based on their design, use of technology, creativity, presentation, and answers to short questions. Presenting designs ranging from unique towers and staging concepts to beautiful gardens, here are the additional 2014 Vectorworks Design Scholars, whose work you can view on our gallery:

  • Belgium: Alexander Davey Thomson, K.U. Leuven, Saint-Lucas Campus and Lisa Vromman, KASK School of Arts Gent
  • Canada: Andrea Linney, University of Toronto
  • China: Chen Yin Feng, Chongqing University; Shao Xing Yu, Southeast University; and Wu Xin Jing, Shanghai Theatre Academy
  • Germany: Markus Bobik and Michaela Eizenberger, TU München; and Paul Dembeck, Beuth Hochschule Berlin
  • Poland: Judyta Cichocka, Wrocław University of Technology
  • Switzerland: Marcel Hauert, Berner Fachhochschule
  • UK: Daniel Sweeting, London Metropolitan University
  • USA: Enoch (Wes) Calkin, University of Cincinnati; Michael Signorile, Stevens Institute Of Technology; and Tina Simon, TU Dresden

“I’m honored to be part of this program as we pay tribute to fantastic designs and scholarship winners’ potential to propel design, solve problems, and renew culture,” said Richard Diehl, chairman of the board of directors at Nemetschek Vectorworks and namesake of the Richard Diehl Design Award. “Students represent the next generation of creative potential, and Nemetschek Vectorworks is thrilled to help these students realize their career goals and make the world a better place.”

The 2015 Vectorworks Design Scholarship will begin accepting entries beginning on March 1, 2015. Students can sign up for email reminders and are encouraged to follow @Vectorworks and #FundMyVision.

A solar study shown top to bottom at 10:00 am, 12:00 pm, and 3:00 pm.

By Eric Gilbey, PLA, ASLA, Professional Member APLD, Vectorworks Landmark Industry Expert, Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc.

Have you ever felt that certain technology advancements are beyond your need to employ them? If you answered, “yes,” you’re not alone. However, 3D modeling is one type of technology you can’t afford to implement slowly because its analysis/study tools enable landscape designers to do solar studies.

When I speak to landscape architects and designers about conducting studies to show where the sun and shade patterns exist for each client’s site, they often respond, “If I could set up a solar study on my solutions for a site, it would be the first thing I’d want to see to make sure my solution is doing what I thought it would.” If you share this sentiment, then confirming, for example, that your proposed plantings for shade structures will be effective is just one benefit that solar study tools provide.

Additionally, consider the sales benefit that solar studies will deliver as proof to clients that your solution achieves the sun/shade requests they made. You might have a hard time selling your solar studies alone, but with the rest of the documentation provided by today’s technology tools, clients couldn’t help but realize the professional and aesthetic knowledge and skill you are using to meet their site’s explicit and implicit needs.

Finally, adopting solar analysis/study tools helps you promote sustainable site designs. For example, many designers have begun to recognize the required guidelines and benchmarks needed to achieve credits for a sustainable site, such as with LEED and SITESTM. Among these credits are those that seek to increase energy efficiency in proposed and existing buildings or reduce urban communities’ heat island effects. If you already use these guidelines to promote sustainable site designs to clients, then you likely know that solar studies are expected to help achieve those objectives, as well. And, if you’ve hesitated to conduct these studies because you lacked the ability to do them accurately, stop putting it off, and make these studies a part of what you can bring to the project instead of hiring someone else to do it. The technology is readily available, and the processes to do these studies have become fairly simple.

Once you decide to integrate solar studies into your designs, there are various software solutions to consider, including Vectorworks Landmark. One useful characteristic about this design application is that you no longer need to know coordinates or a time zone to place a Heliodon object with a directional light when it contains attached data like the region and city. You can also create QuickTime solar animation movies and “view from sun” animations.

Regardless of the tool you use, if you want to see how the sun affects your designs, then the best way to do it is by enlisting technology to do the job for you. This way, you can feel free to design what you envision, whether that’s landscape architecture, landscape design, contracting, or planning, and know with confidence that what you’re offering clients is exactly what they want … proof that your solution works.

To learn more about conducting sun and shade studies with the Heliodon tool in Vectorworks Landmark with Renderworks software, view this video.

By Jeffrey Ouellette, Assoc. AIA, IES, Architect Product Specialist at Nemetschek Vectorworks, Inc.

With China’s already enormous AEC industry growing rapidly and becoming more sophisticated, there is an opportunity to drive improvements through the creation and adoption of national BIM standards. Therefore, I recently traveled to China as a representative of the buildingSMART alliance and National BIM Standard – United States® (NBIMS-US™) Version 3 Project Committee. Serving in an advocacy role, I promoted the creation and use of open standards for project delivery and operations and the importance of considering a building’s full lifecycle during design.

Jeff Ouellette was honored to once again meet with industry and agency leaders from the Chinese design and construction industry during his trip to Asia.

China BIM Portal
Just prior to my trip, Mad Macs Technology Distributions Limited, Nemetschek Vectorworks’ Chinese distributor, arranged an interview with the country’s primary BIM advocate, China BIM Portal. The resulting article focuses on how NBIMS-US might inform our Chinese counterparts in their efforts to promote BIM standards.

During our conversation, I explained that in the US, all involved professionals (i.e., designers, contractors, suppliers, and owners) need to come to a consensus on BIM standards to achieve industry-wide adoption. The ideas have to be introduced, debated, and voted on by those who will be using them before they are readily accepted and adopted. Core technology and classification references should be based on open, international standards while also incorporating proven, national market best practices. Project stakeholders need to feel that they and their colleagues have a vested interest in adopting them and share the same vision for creating consistency, predictability, and value for everyone involved in the design, procurement, construction, and operations of a building.

We also discussed two adoption strategies that China could emulate. In the US, factions of the AEC market and the buildingSMART alliance are the primary drivers of BIM. Opposite to this is the UK, where a government mandate requires BIM-based deliverables for significantly sized, government-funded projects by 2016. Even with China’s government support, their biggest obstacles will be their market size and the varying levels of industry expertise and technological, as well as professional practice, maturity. However, with robust education, training, and implementation support, their government-based effort will help the Chinese industry move forward … quickly. Over time, though, it will take the various stakeholders’ feedback to adjust, as needed, to get the best performance from their national BIM standards.

buildingSMART China BIM Standards Summit
About this time last year, I represented the buildingSMART alliance at the Foundation Ceremony of the buildingSMART China chapter. This year’s trip continued those conversations, and I was privileged to once again meet with their leaders and other important members from the Chinese design and construction industry.

Among the topics we discussed was the value of establishing and implementing standards in our respective markets. I repeated the points that the US effort is market-based, without a government initiative or funding, while the Chinese effort is backed with money and policies by the central and regional governments, and that our biggest challenge is changing our industry culture to voluntarily adopt standardization methods, while their biggest challenge is their size and market fragmentation. In the end, we agreed that we have a lot to learn from each other moving forward.

APEC 2014 SOM3 Workshop
Finally, my trip ended with a presentation at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation’s (APEC) 2014 Third Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM3) joint APEC-ASEAN workshop on increasing building performance with BIM. I summarized NBIMS-US™ Version 3 and implored the need to put aside bad practices and decisions of the past for the benefit of better productivity and higher value today, as well as the economic and environmental sustainability of future generations.

Jeff Ouellette addressed attendees at the APEC 2014 SOM3 Workshop about how BIM can increase building performance.

Other presentations included efforts by China, Russia, Australia, and Singapore to use BIM to support surges in design and construction, as well as sustainability efforts. The vice president of the China Academy of Building Research was actively seeking more dialogs between the US and China, as well as between China and the international AEC industry, to share work and positively impact the development of global BIM standards. With NBIMS-US, our nation is seen as a leader in APEC for implementing policies and technologies to support BIM and sustainable design, but China is moving fast, with lots of government support.

Looking Ahead
The Chinese have a 2016 publishing goal for a national BIM standard. They see the benefits of having proven practice and technology solutions that provide repeatable, consistent processes for creating, collecting, and acting upon good information for delivering a project to an owner and assisting with the management of that building into the future.

I hope that as we continue our dialog with our Chinese counterparts, they will also see how Nemetschek Vectorworks provides BIM technology solutions to support them. Check out our BIM in Practice page to learn more.

Neil Marshall’s role as a director and Chartered Architectural Technologist at The Design Büro in the UK covers everything from securing future work to delivering multimillion-pound schemes within the healthcare sector. One of his biggest roles over the past few years, however, has been overseeing the integration of BIM into the daily activities of the practice. Marshall believes that adopting BIM workflows at the start of the design phase inspires building users to engage with the design process and aids in the delivery of a better built environment.

In this new video, Marshall shares why he is passionate about Vectorworks Architect software as a proven BIM solution. His firm, which designs and builds sustainable environments for the healthcare, residential housing, leisure, and education industries, recently made the switch from 2D to 3D with BIM. Learn about their transition and what advice Marshall has for those considering adopting a BIM workflow.

After watching the video, learn more about The Design Büro’s proven approach to building design and view some of its high-quality, accurate architectural designs including its flagship BIM project, the Pathology Department building at Glan Clywd Hospital in North Wales.

For award-winning architecture and design team Peter and Sharon Exley, fun elevates the everyday. In fact, as founders of the Chicago-based firm Architecture Is Fun, this husband and wife have crafted their professional ambitions toward making meaningful, interactive places and spaces for families. One of their first clients was the internationally renowned Chicago Children’s Museum; other children’s museums, exhibits, and adult cultural spaces soon followed.

In this new Vectorworks Success Story, learn about three projects designed by Architecture Is Fun, beginning with the St. Chrysostom’s Day School, where the firm transformed an underused, 450-square-foot space into a bright and airy gothic garden where children explore and interact, paint, perform, tell stories, and sit with friends.

St. Chrysostom’s Day School. © Doug Snower Photography.

Next is the 22,000-square-foot Young At Art Museum in Davie, Florida, where the Exleys worked with the museum’s executive director to introduce art usually reserved for serious adult museums. They supplemented work commissioned from 75 acclaimed artists with highly sensory interactive pieces, including engaging sculptures, plush seating areas, curvy tunnels, soothing water play structures, and cozy reading nooks.

Young At Art Museum. © Doug Snower Photography.

Generating data-rich models with Vectorworks Architect software enabled Peter’s coordination with the building architect and consultant’s BIM models. Often, the exhibit concept was in development before the interior space, so having a comprehensive model informed the architectural design.

“The ambition of Vectorworks Architect is a robust example, illustrating a workflow that is familiar and analogous to traditional architectural design process while producing a forward-looking, data-rich, and coordinated BIM,” Peter says. “Compared to experiences of competitive products, Vectorworks Architect presents a superior outcome with less effort, that’s profitable to the architect and client partnership,” Peter says.

More recently, Architecture Is Fun upgraded the main floor family gallery at the esteemed Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University with small building blocks, tablet computers with proprietary activities, and comfortable child-height seating that invites people of all ages to explore in a non-linear fashion.

Frost Art Museum photo courtesy of Florida International University.

Peter notes that the Vectorworks model for this project was used to prototype scale models of furniture and millwork using a MakerBot Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer, and digital files went straight to millwork fabrication with only minimal need for shop drawings.

Visit our website to read the entire Architecture Is Fun Success Story.