We’re excited to announce the launch of our Vectorworks tech support Twitter handle on this month’s Tech Roundup! You can now tweet to @VectorworksHelp with any tech support questions you may have.

We’re also highlighting two new videos to help designers make the most of their Vectorworks software.

This video explains how to utilize Autosave, a convenient back-up utility, efficiently.


The following video shows how to create a volumetric lighting effect in Vectorworks.


Subscribe to our YouTube channel or follow @VectorworksHelp on Twitter to stay up-to-date on any #VectorworksFacts.

What do people outside the design profession think of when they hear the word “architect”? Perhaps it’s a simple answer, like someone who defines space, someone who draws, designs, and models. But perhaps there’s a deeper question we should be asking, a more philosophical one: What do people think architects really are?

In this video, SPG ArchitectsEric A. Gartner, AIA, LEED AP+, shares how he hopes people view architects as problem solvers. After watching, tweet to @Vectorworks and share how you’re a problem solver.

And, read our user Success Story to learn more about SPG Architects and how its designers are changing lives and communities one project at a time with Vectorworks software.

By Eric Gilbey, RLA, ASLA, Prof. APLD, Landscape Architecture Industry Specialist at Nemetschek Vectorworks

Having joined the site design industry over 25 years ago, I’ve witnessed several evolutions in the types of issues designers tackle when planning projects. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, designers worked Integrated Pest Management into the specifications for new projects and included it in many site maintenance contracts. Right after 2001, security became their main focus followed by environmental sustainability.

Today, the hot topic among site and community designers is resiliency, which is the practice of designing projects to be resistant to possible variations in an environment. In other words, if your design is properly resistant to adverse conditions, it will remain functional after a potentially devastating change occurs. (Economic and demographic changes also fall under the umbrella of resiliency planning.)

The topic of resiliency has risen to the forefront following recent reports of public spaces that failed due to a calamity event. For example, heavy rainfall in April 2014 caused a Baltimore, Maryland street located along railroad tracks to sink into the ground, damaging cars and displacing residents for weeks. Had the street’s design or an assessment by City officials the year prior addressed subgrade flash flooding, this incident might have been prevented.

Weiss/Manfredi photo

In an ironic example, the now completed first phase of Hunter’s Point South Waterfront Park in New York City was “storm tested” even as it was being constructed. The site expects to take on rising sea levels due to climate change, and while the architects and landscape architects integrated resiliency into the park’s design, along with the nearby infrastructure and roadways, they likely did not expect the storm event that Hurricane Sandy delivered during construction. Thankfully, the park bore the impact, and the finished space is all the better for it. Projects like this help all design players see the need for resiliency in our growing urban ecology and recognize its success.

A design can be also resilient to more than just the environment. Vectorworks Landmark user Adrian McGregor, director of Australian landscape architecture and urban design firm McGregor Coxall, incorporated cost efficiencies into his design for Ballast Point Park, assisting in the economic resiliency of the project. McGregor reused post-demolition oil tank metal sheets that existed on the site to create a structural frame onto which he incorporated wind turbines. We often view self power-generating features as improving only sustainability or energy efficiency. However, when considering that a community could potentially forgo access to the electrical utility due to economic setbacks, or that a physical breach in connectivity could occur and disrupt the functionality of the park, features like these wind turbines make the park resilient to energy crises.

I encourage readers to learn more about how various design industries are embracing resiliency, including and beyond flash floods and storm surges. There are many ways to incorporate resiliency into project designs, and design technology supports it. Whether integrating GIS data such as flood mapping into your site design or model, or maximizing the analytical opportunities within smart, hybrid objects, smarter design with intuitive and intellectual tools may be the best way to study how disaster-proof your project could be. Start planning your projects to be resilient against future problems with Vectorworks software and our many plug-ins from industry partners.

By Jeff Server, LEED AP BD+C, ASLA, Assoc. AIA, Industry Product Specialist at Nemetschek Vectorworks

When I was a young graduate student studying architecture, landscape architecture, and urban planning at the University of Colorado, I was constantly exploring ways to “merge” the design disciplines and focus on holistic, sustainable approaches and solutions to projects. A professor of mine, Alan Berger, understood what I was trying to achieve and introduced me to a seminal redevelopment project called Emscher Park.

Image by Carschten

Located in the Ruhr Valley in Germany, the project was designed and led by a landscape architecture firm called Latz + Partner. The park is a popular community center that was redeveloped from an obsolete industrial site, creating an asset for a community rather than simply ignoring a contaminated, derelict site. Latz’s Emscher Park inspired me to pursue work that focused on making something more out of existing or abandoned sites in a sustainable way, rather than wasting time, money, and resources by wiping the slate clean.

Keeping Emscher Park in the back of my mind, I spent the next 15 years as a practicing architect and landscape architect before applying those skills to my current position at Nemetschek Vectorworks where I help make improvements to their design software. Earlier this summer, I learned that our office was hosting a meeting of the Maryland chapter of the ASLA where a landscape architect was going to talk about his work and firm. Out of simple curiosity, I decided to stop by, and there was Tilman Latz, owner of Latz + Partner, the firm whose work inspired me to take the direction I did in my career path all those years ago.

Latz offered tremendous personal insight into the Emscher Park project, while also sharing advice on the challenges that could be faced within that type of work. He warned that the level of collaboration needed between public agencies to create redeveloped, sustainable projects like Emscher Park is harder to achieve in the US, but that the rewards would be well worth it. Incorporating pre-existing features of the site into the design not only saved time and money, but it also captured the area’s personality and charm in such a way that visitors still travel to the park from across Europe.

Every designer draws his or her inspiration from somewhere. We want to hear your story. Tweet to @Vectorworks to tell us about what or who inspires you.

BuildingSMART International, a non-profit organization that promotes and supports the use of Open BIM standards for AEC industries, is accepting submissions for its inaugural Business Gain Through Open Technology award. Entries, due August 31, must demonstrate how using Open BIM standards improves interoperability and offers major business gains to all participants involved in the building process from the designer to the contractor to the owner.

The winning designer will be recognized at the international buildingSMART meetings in Toronto this October. In addition, the top 10 finalists will have their designs displayed on the organization’s website, and special awards will be given to the best proposal from a small and medium enterprise and to a proposal sharing end-user experiences.

Anyone may submit a project for consideration, including non-buildingSMART members and clients, as long as one or more of the buildingSMART tools and standards are used, which include the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC), buildingSMART Data Dictionary (bSDD or IFD), Information Delivery Manual (IDM), Model View Definition (MVD), and BIM Collaboration Format (BCF). Entries will be examined by a panel of judges chosen from buildingSMART chapters around the world.

Visit our BIM in Practice page to learn how Vectorworks Architect software supports Open BIM standards and allows designers to work in 2D or 3D to easily move BIM projects along to others involved in the building process.

Computers Unlimited, the Vectorworks software distributor in the United Kingdom, recently sponsored the publication of a new book that dispels the misconception that BIM is appropriate only for larger practices. Written by architect and author Robert Klaschka, BIM in Small Practices: Illustrated Case Studies features 10 BIM projects designed by small architectural firms. One of those case studies focuses on industry expert Jonathan Reeves, who has been a loyal Vectorworks user since 1991.

“Smaller architecture firms are not just one-stop house designers any more,” says Reeves, whose practice, Jonathan Reeves Architecture (JRA), consists of one architect and one administrator. “They need to adhere to building regulations and environmental standards, as well as satisfy local planning offices, clients, and any other parties interested in local development. This means that they need to call on experts in each particular area to support their work. BIM simplifies and improves this process.”

Reeves values the ability to communicate ideas with three-dimensional, information-rich objects. He first put BIM to good use on a project for Kingsway School, collaborating with Quattro Design Architects in Gloucester back in 2006. Since then, Reeves has gone on to provide architectural BIM services and a full range of Vectorworks-based training courses.

Kingsway School by Quattro Design Architects and Jonathan Reeves Architecture.

Reeves uses Vectorworks Architect as his main tool for all 2D drafting, 3D modeling, and building information modeling. “Vectorworks Architect is a powerful cross-platform solution,” Reeves says. “Its ease of use and powerful tool set make it very productive for all the main tasks within the architectural design process, from concept design right through to production information and also presentation boards.”

He adds that all projects, not just large ones, need simplified collaboration. “BIM is all about setting standards and operating procedures that make collaboration much easier, simplifying the task of sharing data with other professionals who use different technologies, different file formats, and different ideologies,” says Reeves. In addition, he notes that BIM should be used by all practices to save time, money, and effort, enabling designers to focus on improving the architecture they create, while still enjoying the creative process.

BIM in Small Practices: Illustrated Case Studies is available for purchase and would make a nice addition to your summer reading list. Enjoy!

For the fifth year in a row, Nemetschek Vectorworks employees and their families gathered at Virginia’s Arlington National Cemetery to participate in PLANET’s annual Renewal and Remembrance beautification project on July 28. Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), the national trade association for landscape and lawn care industry professionals, considers this event the largest green industry day of service in the United States. Other event partners included the Professional Grounds Management Society, as well as Platinum sponsors Caterpillar, Inc. and New Holland Construction.

“It’s an honor to help preserve this historical landmark, experience history firsthand, and pay respect to those who sacrificed themselves to protect our freedom,” said Eric Gilbey, RLA, Landscape Industry Specialist at Nemetschek Vectorworks. “We look forward to this event every year and are humbled to see our level of volunteer participation keep growing.”

Courtesy of Nobile Photography

Working tirelessly to improve the cemetery, volunteers did everything from mulching, cabling and installing lightning protection for trees, and upgrading sprinklers to pruning, planting, liming, and aerating more than 200 acres of hallowed ground. The event also included a children’s program where the youngest volunteers planted perennials and participated in the wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Yesterday, Gilbey also participated in PLANET’s Legislative Day on the Hill, where PLANET members met with US senators and representatives in Washington, DC to discuss issues impacting the landscape and lawn care industry, including overregulation, Lyme disease-related legislation, and the H-2B program. The landscape industry is a constantly growing, $74 billion dollar industry thatemploys 900,000 people. Nemetschek Vectorworks is pleased to be a part of the landscape industry with our continuous support for PLANET and the community.

Giving Back

Nemetschek Vectorworks’ commitment to projects like these helped us earn the 2014 PLANET Community Stewardship Award in the supplier category. The award, presented on July 28, celebrates PLANET member companies and organizations that have demonstrated leadership through dedication and contributions to the good of the community.

Courtesy of Nobile Photography

Other ways that Nemetschek Vectorworks supports environmental and community service initiatives include the Adopt-A-Road program, Anacostia Watershed Society’s SITES Project, Gingertown, PARK(ing) Day, annual food drives, American Red Cross Blood Drives, and the Angel Tree for DC General’s Homeless Children’s Playtime Project. The company also promotes a variety of educational programs through scholarships and research grants, as well as free software for students and academic institutions.

“As a provider of design software built for the landscape design and design/build professional, Nemetschek Vectorworks upholds the values of community stewardship,” said the company’s CEO Sean Flaherty. “We support initiatives that keep our local community clean and sustainable; promote active, engaging learning opportunities; and embrace environmentally friendly practices to reduce our carbon footprint. We know we’re hardly alone in supporting practices that make the world a better place; however, our commitment is firmly instilled in our corporate culture, and I hope that as our company grows so too will our involvement in community activities.”

By Eric Gilbey, RLA, ASLA, Prof. APLD, Landscape Architecture Industry Specialist at Nemetschek Vectorworks

Landscape designers often feel trapped between a rock and a hard place when it comes to transitioning to CAD software. Drawing by hand allows them to keep the personalized look of their plans and elevations, whereas digital design software makes things faster, easier, and more efficient. What these designers may not realize is that adding personality to their projects on a computer can be easier than assumed, as shown in the four following ways with Vectorworks Landmark’s symbol library features.

Create personally styled plant symbols by modifying default symbols or starting from scratch; change color fills of shapes to emulate ornamental features like leaf and flower color.

2D and 3D Shape Manipulation

Both CAD and hand-drawn designs rely on the use of lines and shapes to produce drawings. Straight and curvilinear lines of varying widths create the basic format, while polygonal shapes allow designers to add a personal touch to a project. Vectorworks Landmark software contains a large library of plant symbols that has both 2D and 3D graphical settings. When a plant symbol is edited in 2D, designers gain immediate access to the lines and shapes that make up the symbol. They can then edit, add, or subtract any part of the object to customize it to their preferences.

Exact Color Creation and Rendering

Object customization isn’t limited to just form. Whether they want to show an exact shade of green for a tree or how a flower garden will look once planted, Landmark users can select the shapes within a symbol, change their “fill” with solid colors, patterns, or a gradient blend of colors, as well as modify a fill’s opacity with ease. Changing the fill’s opacity enables more creativity because designers can add other transparent colored shapes as if they were using markers or watercolors to create layers. With these color layers, users can shadow and highlight symbols to take on visual depth or add brightly colored shapes to replicate blooms, helping the client recognize expected flower colors.

Achieve photo-realistic plan views when using image props of various plant materials along with hardscape and softscape textures.

3D Image Texture Customization

Designers seek ways to give their drawings a more telling 3D look, and sometimes they need something more than color to project their vision onto a project. That’s why Vectorworks Landmark software has a library of material textures that can be used as plant 3D representations, as well as for customizing pavements, walls, and ground surfaces. For example, users can personalize the texture of a certain flower and adjust the hatching on a pathway to represent a specific type of paving stone. With displacement mapping, they can customize these same textures, or even those they have brought into the program, and apply a depth to the surface, giving it added texture with 3D-positioned leaves or stones.

Personalized Library Additions

For designers who are still skeptical about how custom digital designing can change their workflow for the better, remember that all changes made to the shape, color, and texture of objects can be saved in personal libraries within the program. The more the software is used to personalize a design, the easier and more efficient it will become in the future.

For more ways to improve your workflow with Vectorworks Landmark, check out this training video, as well as others like it on our YouTube channel.

We had fun shooting a video interview at our office last night with Donald Holder, winner of two Tony Awards® for his work on The Lion King and South Pacific. Holder shared stories about his journey toward becoming one of Broadway’s best lighting designers, some of his favorite projects and collaborators, as well as his thoughts about the future. Stay tuned for the release of the video!

In the meantime, we’ve published a new Vectorworks User Success Story about Holder’s recent work on The Bridges of Madison County, which earned him a 2014 Tony nomination for Best Lighting Design in a Musical.

“The scenic design was sparse and elemental, conceived to allow light to do a large part of the storytelling,” Holder says. “The lighting was responsible for creating shifts in time, weather, season, location, and interior versus exterior, and there were often multiple locations revealed simultaneously. So the biggest challenge for me was to find the large ‘brushstrokes’ of light via variations in angle and color that could reveal this single space in a multitude of ways.”

The scene and Holder’s communicative lighting design capably suggest the vast Iowa landscape. Courtesy of Joan Marcus, featuring Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale.

Our story describes how Holder and his team addressed these challenges with Vectorworks Spotlight software. For Bridges, Holder collaborated with Associate Lighting Designer Michael P. Jones, who says, “Vectorworks has become such a reliable standard in the theatrical design industry in expressing our theatrical visions into build-ready reality.” Jones notes that that Bridges benefitted from having three disciplines all using the program to execute their designs. Scenic Designer Michael Yeargan’s associate Mikiko Suzuki McAdams and Sound Designer Jon Weston’s associate Jason Strangfeld both drafted their designs using Vectorworks, which Jones says “made the scenic, lighting, and audio integration into the master build schematic easy, as well as updates and revisions simple without having to convert from DWG/ DXF. I am continually pleased with the powerful productivity features that Vectorworks Spotlight provides in helping me draft an aesthetically pleasing light plot out of which became a beautifully realized design element of a wonderful production.”

Read the full story to learn more about how Holder collaborated with the entire design team to create something special, transporting audience members to a magical place each night.

Beware landlubbers; you’ll need sea legs to board a floating office space docked in Penryn, UK. This innovative approach to an office expansion, designed for business space developer RobotMother, is the creation of Michael Hormann and Marraum Architecture, who transformed a World War II ferrocement barge into an efficient workspace that’s moored adjacent to Jubilee Wharf.

“Jubilee Wharf itself is a landmark building because of its sustainable construction, as well as its appearance and function,” says Hormann, a director and architect at Marraum. “It was very important to create a building that would fit into the context. Much of the inspiration came from the location, which I tried to reflect in the space, the atmosphere, and the views of the barge.”

Marraum Architecture designed the interior of the 85×22 foot barge to be a relaxing office space, allowing for natural light and beautiful ocean views while still retaining privacy. “It’s difficult to put into words the distinctive design; you have to see it to understand,” Hormann said.

Though this project required the exploration of uncharted territory for Marraum Architecture, designing outside the box is the norm for Hormann. “I have always been interested in unusual structures and working in different fields. In fact, I previously worked for Baumraum, a tree house architecture firm in Germany, as well as the artist Anthony Garratt on four outdoor painting stands located on Tresco Island, one of the Isles of Scilly.”

Hormann designed the barge with Vectorworks software. “Without Vectorworks, communication would have been much more difficult between the client and the construction team.”

Have you completed any innovative projects with Vectorworks software? Tweet to @Vectorworks and share your story!