In this month’s tech roundup, we’re delivering tips on using tools you may be unfamiliar with, as well as info about an upgraded plug-in for Vectorworks software to help make 2016 your most successful year yet.

The first video shows you how to use the Renderworks Camera to create and save personalized perspectives within your design documents. Learn how to control the camera’s position, direction, focal length, and rendering mode to create perfect presentations and showcase your designs.


Next, learn the ins and outs of the Video Screen object. After just a few minutes, you’ll be able to create customized video screens that add a whole new level of detail to your projects.


Finally, check out the updated Foliage 2.0 plug-in for Vectorworks 2016, which empowers you to add complex hedges, espaliers, and topiary designs to your projects for an added layer of realism.


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

If you’re thinking about implementing a BIM workflow or making BIM a more integral part of your design process, then there is plenty of information out there to help. However, if you’re looking to go beyond the concepts behind BIM and see it in action for yourself, pick up a copy of Innovative Vectorworks BIM. This collection of detailed, illustrated case studies showcases projects from the United Kingdom paired with an introduction to BIM modeling to help you reimagine your workflows.


Edited by Vectorworks software expert Jonathan Reeves, the book highlights 50 tips and tricks for enhancing BIM processes gleaned from Reeves’ years of training architects in the use of design software. The book also offers case studies written by professionals who designed projects using BIM workflows.

“I hope that by illustrating what a number of forward-thinking practitioners are doing now, it will inspire more current and future Vectorworks users to develop their own interest in BIM and 3D workflows,” Reeves says. “I encourage you to try pushing the boundaries to discover what can be achieved.”

But don’t just take our word for how helpful Reeves’ book is; check out the in-depth review of Innovative Vectorworks BIM on architosh, a leading Internet magazine dedicated to CAD and 3D professionals and students worldwide.

To order your copy of Innovative Vectorworks BIM, email our UK distributor Computers Unlimited at

Jonathan Reeves Architecture (jra) is a creative, professional, award-winning, and eco-friendly architectural design practice with offices at Loughborough in Leicestershire and North Devon, South West UK. Established by Architect and BIM Specialist Jonathan Reeves, RIBA, BA (Hons), M Arch, Dip Arch, the company specializes in the use of computer technology for design, visualization, and training.

If Marionette, the new Python-based graphical scripting tool in Vectorworks 2016, has you intrigued but unsure of where to start, then join us for Marionette Monday, a free webinar series that will delve into both the technical and aesthetic design possibilities made available through this feature.

marionette_registration_header_green_1“Graphical scripting can be very intimidating to non-scripters, but these webinars will shine some light on the ‘mysteries’ of scripting using a powerful, dynamic tool: Marionette,” said Sarah Barrett, webinar host and Vectorworks’ architectural BIM specialist. “Once you learn the basics, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll be creating complex, parametric objects.”

AECB_org_no_surf-2Interested? You can sign up for the webinars now. And don’t worry if you can’t make the airdates, as all registrants will be sent recordings of each of the webinars. Each Marionette Monday will air from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET on the following dates:

The first and only cross-platform graphical scripting tool available in a BIM-authoring software, Marionette enables designers with little or no prior programming experience to create custom application algorithms that build interactive objects, streamline complex workflows, and explore the power of 2D drawing, 3D modeling, and BIM workflows within Vectorworks software. If you want to learn more about Marionette before the webinars kick off, check out these tutorial videos.

And if you have any questions about the webinar or are just excited about the topic, share your thoughts using #MarionetteMonday on social media.

By Helen Garcia-Alton, Entertainment Design Intern at Vectorworks, Inc.

Hello! I’m a recent graduate of Towson University with a degree in design and production. As a student, I took a class from Vectorworks’ own Frank Brault, where we studied the ins and outs of lighting stages. With my background in theatre lighting design, I currently work as a freelance lighting designer, programmer, and electrician in Maryland. I decided to apply for this internship with Vectorworks because I have always enjoyed using the software and knew it would be an opportunity to get more experience with design technology. And based on what I’ve learned about Marionette, a new graphical scripting tool in the Design Series of Vectorworks software, my decision has already paid off.

On my first day at Vectorworks, I learned more than just how to use the coffee machine. The only course I’ve ever taken on computer programming was back in 2009, so my eyes started to cross as I attempted to figure out how to do scripting with Marionette. My first breakthrough occurred when I was able to make and then extrude a square. It turns out that the process is simple once you understand what you’re trying to do — just stringing together a short series of nodes that are mostly inputs.


When learning Marionette, start with a simple object and go from there.

So, if this is just a different way to make an extruded rectangle, why do it in Marionette instead of using the Rectangle tool? Well, I asked myself that, too. The convenience of using Marionette is based on what you want to accomplish. Marionette can be used to create objects (building shapes, repeating patterns, truss structures) or to perform operations (such as cutting objects into pieces in a pattern). The magical thing is, if I make my rectangle with Marionette, it is all referenced; every parameter is controlled, and the formula is just re-run to produce the revised object, item, or function. If my rectangle were more complex, say, a Source Four symbol (check out the Marionette node network for slicing that some of my colleagues made!), then I change the way the parameters function, including thickness, the distance between slices, and even the way it is sliced just by editing parameters in certain nodes! In the case of this Marionette definition, it’s editing the Vec3 node with a x,y,z value for the direction of the slices.


I took a familiar Spotlight object and put it into Marionette. Even pre-existing objects can be modified.

Of course, this is just the beginning of what I do with Marionette now that I understand how it works. If you’re looking for a place to start, sign up for our free Marionette Monday webinar series that begins on January 18. The series will take you from beginner to advanced user, offering concrete tools and examples of how to use Marionette in your daily design process. We also have several helpful Marionette tutorial videos, like this wonderful introduction video (yay hexagons!). Our YouTube channel also includes links to the referenced resource files, so following along is super easy. Create a free account on the Vectorworks Community Board to learn more about the software and the possibilities with Marionette, see my projects, and share your journey.

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

From Istanabul to Manhattan, Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel, Architects, DPC (GKV) has transformed skylines all over the world. As one of New York City’s most highly regarded full-service architecture and interior design firms, GKV’s philosophy cultivates a spirit of shared ideas and free-flowing collaboration to achieve the best design possible on any scale.

We recently interviewed one of the firm’s founding principals, Randolph Gerner, AIA, to explore his design sensibility garnered from years of innovation and global experience. Gerner and the 60-person GKV team are constantly seeking new ways to uncover the essence and inherent nature of the surrounding environment of a project. GKV then incorporates these elements into a unique and timeless design. Listen in, for example, as Gerner shares how the firm is reviving exposed cast-in-place concrete as a design concept.

For more inspiration and to see projects designed with Vectorworks software, visit GKV’s website.

2016 has arrived, and it’s time to hit the ground running. To help you get started, we’ve collected some AIA-accredited continuing education opportunities from the past year so that you can pick up a few credits, as well as spark your imagination as you begin another year of creative design.

“Circasia: Engaging the Creeks” design by and image courtesy of Diego Bermudez

“A Placemaking Approach to Design”: 1 AIA HSW

Dive into the mindsets of today’s forward-thinking designers who have made it their mission to plan sites that serve today’s needs and those of generations to come: a concept known as intelligent urbanism. New York-based architecture firm LEVENBETTS, Australian landscape architecture and urban design firm McGregor Coxall, and University of Pennsylvania graduate student and Richard Diehl Scholarship Award winner Diego Bermudez have all created projects that are perfect examples of this design philosophy, which you can explore in this continuing education article from Architectural Record.

Photo courtesy of Holcim Foundation

Monte Rosa Hut design by Bearth & Deplazes Architekten AG and ETH Zürich. Photo courtesy of Holcim Foundation.

“Sustainability, Modular Design, and BIM”: 1 AIA HSW

Written by Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP, this Architectural Record article combines industry insight and careful research to map out how sustainability, modular design, and BIM have emerged as prevalent concepts among architects. Learn how these trends are shaping the built environment and its relationship with the world through case studies featuring Bearth & Deplazes Architekten AG and ETH Zürich, Resolution: 4 ArchitectureKipnis Architecture + Planning, and Platane Architecture, and earn 1 AIA HSW along the way.

Art in Architecture Webinar Series: Multiple AIA LUs

Feel like watching a webinar instead of reading an article to earn your credits? Then our Art in Architecture series is for you. Listen in as Architect Steve Alden, AIA, and Rubina Siddiqui, Assoc. AIA, senior product specialist — BIM solutions, explore the great design movements of the past through the lens of some of history’s most renowned architects. Not only will you walk away with a greater understanding of your design predecessors, but you’ll also gain a greater appreciation for the impact that past creative trends have on your work today. From Art Nouveau to the atomic age, the Art in Architecture series has a topic for everyone.

If you want more inspiration (and credits), be sure to sign up to receive updates from our Inspiration Page.

It’s been a monumental year for the design industry, beginning with female architects like Denise Scott Brown receiving the American Institute of Architects’ top award, the Gold Medal, along with her husband and partner Robert Venturi. We also witnessed a global commitment toward building a more sustainable world with the European Commission’s 2020 Energy Strategy. Then we saw the fulfillment of the “Back to the Future” movie franchise’s prediction that hoverboards would be real.

It’s been an epic year for Vectorworks, too! Presented in no specific order, here are 10 things that make us smile as we reflect on a wonderful 2015.

  1. We’ve always put BIM at the heart of the design process, and this year we took that commitment one step further by partnering with BIMobject.

Stefan Larsson (left), CEO and founder of BIMobject, shakes hands with Robert Anderson, vice president of integrated practice at Vectorworks, after signing the cooperation agreement between their two companies at the 2015 Hackathon in Budapest.

9. Your source for all things design hit a high note with these top three highest-read Planet Vectorworks stories:

Screen Shot 2015-12-24 at 2.20.19 PM

Screen Shot 2015-12-24 at 11.12.24 AM8. The entertainment design dream team became a reality when we acquired ESP Vision’s product line. Our Facebook followers really liked it a lot.

ESP FB Post7. Home to over five and a half million people, as well as the corporate offices of many international organizations, Atlanta, Georgia became the home of our second office in the United States.

Atlanta Office

Breaking in the new Atlanta office on its opening day

6. The latest release of our software scored plenty of amazing product reviews, like these three:

  • Church Production Magazine: “Historically the improvements to the Vectorworks software has always moved the program forward allowing designers to create more intricate and accurate designs, communicate those designs better, and do it faster and easier. It looks as though Vectorworks 2016 is no exception and will be adding a complement of new tools and features that will push the future of design forward.”
  • Architosh: “To summarize it all, Vectorworks Architect 2016 adds two entire new powerful tool areas: energy analysis with its new Energos feature set, plus the new Marionette feature set for visual scripting for algorithmic mathematical-oriented advanced geometry modeling—a first as a true Mac and Windows based solution.”
  • ARCHITECT Magazine: As coding becomes more an integral part of design[,] … Vectorworks is introducing a built-in scripting tool of its own. Marionette uses a Python-based programming environment that lets designers automate everything from culling BIM data to generating parametric shapes that satisfy specified criteria, such as constructability.”

5. We recognized some stellar students with our second-annual Vectorworks Design Scholarship! With a 46 percent increase in submissions, we had one terrific grand-prize winner, Benno Schmitz, and some stiff competition.

2015-Scholarship-Collage4. While we’re still a part of the Nemetschek Group, we rebranded and changed our company’s name to Vectorworks, Inc.

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 10.11.08 AM3. We debuted our first annual #VectorworksDesignSummit! Next year’s event is heading to Chicago and will be one for the books.

P.S. Sign up before February 29 to snag a great registration offer!


2. We revealed #Vectorworks2016. With incredible upgrades and new features, our newest version has been heralded as the biggest release in the history of our software.

1. We rang in our 30th birthday! We can’t begin to thank our loyal, innovative users and global distribution partners enough for their continued support. We’re diving head first into our 31st year as a company eager to continue discovering new ways to help designers transform the world.


The design and construction of the SwissFEL particle acceleratory facility in the forests of Switzerland presented architects and civil engineers with unique challenges. But equipped with Vectorworks software’s BIM capabilities, architects at Itten+Brechbühl AG developed a model to account for the meticulous level of detail required to design a facility that houses a state-of-the-art free electron laser while also respecting the lush habitats of the surrounding landscape.

SwissFEL6Read more about the project in an article authored by the firm’s Andreas Jöhri, Architekt MSc ETH Arch, in the December issue of the Journal of the National Institute of Building Sciences.


Lighting industry enthusiasts, mark your calendars for Saturday, January 9 for the 11th annual Stage Lighting Super Saturday. The seminar attracts attendees of all skill levels in the architectural and entertainment lighting fields, and takes place from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, located at 721 Broadway in New York City. We’ll be there as a sponsor, too!

“As always, we’re expecting a good turnout at the Stage Lighting Super Saturday event and even more so this year with our expanded program of sessions and speakers,” says Scott Parker, founder of Stage Seminars and longtime lighting designer. “I’m extremely appreciative of Vectorworks’ support and sponsorship of the upcoming industry seminar so that we can further our mission of advancing folks’ knowledge of the lighting industry.”

Covering everything from design inspiration and effective lighting techniques to training and product information, there are plenty of workflow-enhancing sessions for any designer. And don’t worry; there will also be sessions that’ll help you brush up on your Vectorworks skills, like the Computer Aided Design & Paperwork session at 4:30 p.m. It goes over utilizing Vectorworks software to draft light plots while also discussing a popular plug-in for our software, Lightwright, which helps users to better manage their professional lighting documents, synchronize show files, share files and work notes, and reduce paper reports.

Lighting design groundplan for the Schoenfeld Theatre production of The Bridges of Madison County done in Vectorworks Spotlight by Don Holder. Image courtesy of Don Holder Lighting Design, Inc.

Lighting design groundplan for the Schoenfeld Theatre production of The Bridges of Madison County designed with Vectorworks Spotlight by Don Holder. Image courtesy of Don Holder Lighting Design, Inc.

The event’s lineup of speakers features big names in the lighting industry, including Tony Award-winner Jennifer Tipton, who will deliver Saturday’s Keynote Session. Tipton has designed lighting for dance, theater, and opera, and she currently teaches theater lighting at Yale University and is a MacArthur Fellow. Additionally, Richard Pilbrow, a pioneer of modern stage lighting in Britain whose work has been seen in London, New York, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and Moscow, will also speak on Saturday.

“Scott Parker has been a great resource to many lighting designers over the years,” says Frank Brault, Vectorworks’ entertainment industry specialist. “We’re happy to support Scott and the Stage Lighting Super Saturday folks. Come out and join us for an informative day that’s perfect for meeting industry leaders and experts in an informal setting.”

Register today. Have questions? Contact Scott Parker via email or 212-533-3430 to learn more.

Whether stirred by their breathtaking, detailed designs or captivated by the harmonious sounds they produce, people are always blown away by the intricately built instruments of Dobson Pipe Organ Builders.

For more than four decades, the design, construction, and installation shop has constructed instruments for churches, schools, public spaces, and individuals, with work spanning from their stomping grounds of Lake City, Iowa to Los Angeles, Dallas, New Orleans, Philadelphia, New York City, and even the United Kingdom. No matter the setting, the company strives to create timeless works of musical art that inspire the composer and improviser, and are a joy to both the player and listener.


Merton College in Oxford. Design by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Ltd.

A longtime user of Vectorworks Designer software, Technical Designer Jon Thieszen describes Dobson Pipe Organ Builders’ design philosophy simply: “Our number one job is to design the organ. We must keep longevity in mind, ensuring that the instruments last several decades, while also making them easy to assemble.”

During the firm’s tenure, they’ve created more than 85 new organs and have completed more than 30 rebuilds and renovations. Each project begins the same way, with Dobson Pipe Organ Builders’ President and Artistic Director Lynn Alan Dobson designing the aesthetics of the organ, and then passing the baton off to Thieszen and his team for technical design and construction. One of Thieszen’s team members is his son, Patrick. The father-son duo has worked alongside each other for over six years.

Patrick has made 3D design the centerpiece of his workflow, relying on the robust modeling capabilities of Vectorworks Designer software to complete his work. In fact, he always designs in 3D whether the instrument he is working on is contemporary or classical.

“By using 3D capabilities in Vectorworks software, I have a tool to help my colleagues visualize concepts that they might not have been able to see before,” explains Patrick, a designer responsible for general organ building. “3D design is helpful for me when I have an idea in my head that is complex. For instance, if we want to create a design that incorporates several curves or odd intersections, modeling in 3D makes it easier to achieve my design goals.”

CameraMatch is another tool that Patrick utilizes to finesse his designs. This Vectorworks plug-in allows users to align their 3D models with existing photographs. Once the view is set, the CameraMatch Masking, Cloning, and Shadow features assist with creating polished renderings directly within Vectorworks.

Proposal Rendering 2

3D model designed with Vectorworks and CameraMatch by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Ltd.

Additionally, the Thieszens are taking advantage of the new Project Sharing feature introduced in Vectorworks 2016. It’s vital that designers at Dobson Pipe Organ Builders collaborate, and the software’s new Project Sharing capabilities not only make this possible, but they also make the process simpler, by allowing team members to work in the same Vectorworks file concurrently.

“Vectorworks has done a super job increasing the tools and capabilities of the software, as well as enhancing the program’s organizational structure to make the design process easier and faster,” Jon says.

After the design process, the organs are put together in their shop and then taken apart, piece-by-piece, for future assembly at a customer’s location.

“Each organ is a one-time prototype, so we have one shot to get it right,” adds Jon. “It’s easier for us to design parts ahead of time and have confidence that they will fit because we’ve used Vectorworks software.”

St. Joseph Abbey, Benedict, Louisiana

St. Joseph Abbey in Benedict, Louisiana. Design by Dobson Pipe Organ Builders, Ltd.

To explore Dobson Pipe Organ Builders and be inspired by their melodious projects, visit their website.

To learn more about the CameraMatch plug-in for Vectorworks software, visit our Partner Products page