The cat’s out of the bag that we’re gathering 500 of our closest friends from the architecture, landscape, and entertainment industries in Chicago for the 2016 Vectorworks Design Summit. Our April 25-27 annual conference boasts inspirational keynotes, Continuing Education thought-leadership sessions, and a sneak peek into the future of our software line. There is also one-on-one tech support, product training, as well as many networking opportunities. And while there’s been an aura of mystery surrounding one of the most exciting details of the conference, we’re ready to give you the scoop!

Meet the Design Keynote

First and foremost, our awe-inspiring, passionate design keynote speaker is Eva Franch i Gilabert. A New York-based architect, curator, educator, and lecturer on experimental forms of art and architectural practice, Franch will deliver her address on the morning of the last day of the conference, April 27. Titled “Alternatives,” her talk will focus on the importance of experimental ideas and practices in design, as well as the possibilities and insights garnered through an appreciation for taking risks.

Eva Franch

Eva Franch i Gilabert, chief curator and executive director of Storefront for Art and Architecture

Her thirst for architecture, adventure, and art drove her to attain two masters in architecture degrees from Escola Técnica Superior d’Arquitectura (ETSA) Barcelona and Princeton University. She founded her own practice, the Office of Architectural Affairs (OOAA), in 2004. Since 2010, Franch has been the chief curator and executive director of Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, which is a nonprofit organization committed to the advancement of critical and innovative ideas in architecture, art, and design. In 2014, Franch was selected with the project OfficeUS by the U.S. State Department to represent the United States Pavilion at the XIV Venice Architecture Biennale.

She has taught at Columbia University GSAPP, the IUAV University of Venice, SUNY Buffalo, and Rice University School of Architecture. We’re incredibly excited to have an independent voice for architectural thought and practice like Franch who is just as committed to furthering the growth of the design community as we are.

“I’m excited to inspire — and be inspired by — other creatives, designers and creators at the Vectorworks Design Summit,” said Franch. “I hope to contribute something meaningful to the exchange of creative ideas while sharing the chances I’ve capitalized upon to experiment, take risks and raise doubt, as well as go beyond disciplinary labels and boundaries.”

If you’re interested in learning more about this visionary, read about her on Storefront for Art and Architecture’s website.

Left Brain, Meet Right Brain: Technical Training and Inspirational Architecture Tours

The Design Summit kicks off on April 25 with optional, pre-conference training covering the full suite of Vectorworks products, including ESP Vision, as well as features in the 2016 product line like Project Sharing, Energos, and Marionette. Registration for these sessions is now open, so attendees should secure their preferred classes now.

In addition, Vectorworks partnered with the Chicago Architecture Foundation to enable attendees to choose from one of three complimentary local architecture tours following the conclusion of the final conference sessions on April 27. Registered attendees can secure their tour here. Don’t forget to bring your sketchpad on your tour as inspiration could strike at any minute thanks to iconic architects like Mies van der Rohe, whose work is all over the Windy City. 

Some of the sights to be seen on the architecture tours

Some of the sights to be seen on the architecture tours

Work Hard, Play Hard

If all of these educational opportunities had you fooled into thinking that the Design Summit is all work and no play, then think again. Throughout the conference, there are plenty of after-hours events where attendees can relax and get to know each other.


There are ping-pong tables galore at SPiN, the welcome dinner venue.

The fun kicks off April 25 with a welcome dinner at SPiN from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. CT. Better known as a ping-pong social club, SPiN boasts 20 table tennis tables, as well as a full bar and restaurant to combine sport, design, and entertainment.

The good times continue on April 26, when we’ll host the Expo Happy Hour from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. CT, featuring headline sponsor Bluebeam® Software, Inc., along with other sponsors Asite Solutions Ltd.3Dconnexion, Inc., and Canon U.S.A., Inc. In addition, ConnectCAD LimitedHPMaxon Computer GmbHModelo, Inc.Pulp Art SurfacesSCIA, Inc., and Solibri LLC will be on hand to talk through solutions for attendees’ design needs.

At the end of the happy hour, winners of the Marionette Science Fair, a global, virtual graphical scripting contest, will also be announced. Competition entries will be accepted until April 11, at 11:59 p.m. CT, and you don’t have to be a Summit attendee to enter and win, so there’s still time to compete to win an Apple Watch and bragging rights!

Exterior of the Art Institute of Chicago

The exterior of the Art Institute of Chicago, our Customer Appreciation Party headquarters

Following the happy hour, the celebrations continue at the Art Institute of Chicago, where we’ll host the Customer Appreciation Party, beginning at 7:00 p.m. CT. With its collection of diverse artistic pieces, the Art Institute provides the perfect backdrop to celebrate another fantastic Design Summit.

The main space that will be used for the Customer Appreciation Party, the Art Institute of Chicago’s Griffin Court

The event includes dinner and an open bar, live music from the local Chicago-based band Hey Jimmy, as well access to the Impressionism exhibit and the Architecture and Design Galleries. Additionally, a Chicago-based firm, AV Chicago, will illuminate the capabilities of Vectorworks software by handling the party’s lighting design.

Has your FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) kicked in yet? If so, there’s still time to register and get in on the workflow-enhancing fun! The final day to register for the Design Summit is April 15, so register now before it’s too late.

Marinella Vronti, a recent interior design graduate from the UK, has always known that she wanted a career in the creative industry. “During school, I was always attracted to subjects like art,” Vronti says. “I always knew that I would never be the student to pursue politics or a career in business. I wanted to be able to create things.”

Vronti's design for "The Community Library of Limassol."

Vronti’s design for “The Community Library of Limassol.”

Vronti’s passion drove her to study many different facets of the design industry, beginning with fashion. However, she quickly discovered that while she loved combining different styles to create something fresh and innovative, fashion design wasn’t the perfect medium for her to express herself. That’s when she entered the world of interior design. With her major decided upon, she received her bachelor’s degree from De Montfort University in Leicester, England and then continued her studies to earn master’s degree in digital design in 2015.

“I chose to undertake the master’s in digital design mainly because of my love for graphics and branding that developed during my interior design courses,” Vronti says. “All of my projects included some kind of branding aspect — forming a design’s character — and I discovered that it was a passion of mine.”

Vronti's design for "The Community Library of Limassol."

Vronti’s design for “The Community Library of Limassol.”

Vronti believes that technology is integral to crafting a project’s brand identity, as well as elevating the relationship among people, spaces, and things. And while she admits her own aesthetic is still evolving, she credits technology as helping to empower her own sense of style.

“As a new designer, I’m still in the process of identifying myself within the industry,” Vronti says. “I work with a ‘less is more’ attitude on all my projects, and I believe that minimalism and simplicity should be done with exquisite care. Apart from simplicity, I also think that making space multifunctional is the key to timeless design, which is a big influence on my projects.”

Marinella Vronti

Marinella Vronti

Vronti combines multiple technologies to design, but primarily uses Vectorworks software to model building shells and the objects within her project’s spaces. She then applies textures and models detailed pieces using the Cinema 4D plug-in for Vectorworks. “The central part of my design starts in Vectorworks software,” Vronti says. “Most of my modeling takes place in the program because I find it makes it easier to control things like scale and positioning.”

In the final stages of her designs, Vronti uses Photoshop to balance the lighting and colors in her renderings and then creates presentation boards and branding elements using InDesign and Illustrator, using Vectorworks software’s export capabilities with the Adobe suite of products to design using her own, personalized workflow. She also started exploring 3D printing during the course of her studies and is excited for the changes it will bring to the design industry.

Vronti's design for "The 3D Printing Innovation Centre."

Vronti’s design for “The 3D Printing Innovation Centre.”

“I believe 3D printing will be a key player in the workflows of designers and architects in the near future,” she says. “As part of my degree program, I designed a ‘3D Printing Innovation Centre’ with the purpose of exhibiting the power of the technology and its effect on the manufacturing industry.”

Even with all of the benefits that new design technologies afford, Vronti still faces a challenge that has plagued designers throughout history: a client who doesn’t share your sense of style. “My biggest challenge at the moment is working with clients who don’t share the same aesthetic preferences as me,” Vronti says. “When I realize that a disagreement is happening, I try to distance myself from the design and see things from the client’s perspective. Trying to merge my ideas and thoughts with those of a client who really likes to be involved in every aspect of the design is an ongoing learning process for me.”

Vronti's design for "The 3D Printing Innovation Centre."

Vronti’s design for “The 3D Printing Innovation Centre.”

With this positive attitude, Vronti continues to grow and find success as an emerging professional in her field. To those who want to follow in her footsteps, Vronti encourages students to keep persevering despite setbacks. “If you love what you do and work hard, all of your work will pay off sooner or later,” she says. “Believe in yourself and always have ambition; it is the ultimate fuel for success.”

To see more of Vronti’s work and follow her journey in the interior design industry, follow @marinella_vronti on Instagram and check out her website.

While the concepts students learn in the classroom are valuable, there’s no substitute for the real-world experience that design competitions provide. Competitions are great because they let emerging visionaries test their skills and interact with working professionals, and receiving a prize at the end doesn’t hurt, either.

Architectural students from the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo (UASD) in the Dominican Republic, as well as the University of Tokyo and Tokyo University of Science in Japan, collaborated with Vectorworks users and industry experts from around the world during Build New York Live, a collaborative, virtual design competition held over 48 hours. Their team, BIM Unlimited, used non-standard geometry and BIM workflows to integrate structural analysis, MEP design, external windflow analysis, and 4D construction scheduling into a single global design. The resulting 60-story residential tower and multisport community outreach arena in Lower West Manhattan won the competition’s “Best Use of BIM for Sustainability or Constructability Award.”

Team BIM Unlimited's submission to Build New York Live.

Team BIM Unlimited’s submission to Build New York Live.

“The fact that we worked with a team of over 20 people from around the world to produce a project in a such an accelerated way was just amazing,” said Dominican students Ibsen García, Alfredo Cuello, and Ramdel Guerrero. “We ended up understanding how similar the workflows are in other countries compared to the Caribbean and what the demands are on other professionals in the architecture and construction field. We had no limits on the collaboration process since everyone was working in the cloud, which was really liberating. Everything just worked as it should, and we never had any issues.”

While the students in the Dominican focused on creating the building form’s massing models, students from Japan used FlowDesigner software, which communicates with Vectorworks Architect via IFC file exchange, to run an airflow analysis, simulating the wind patterns over the site based on information from existing buildings and weather data. The team, comprised of students Prudsamon Kammasorn, Tatsuya Karube, Shuya Morita, Tomohiro Yamamoto, and Hideaki Yoshida under the leadership of doctoral student Yasin Mohamed Ibrahim, used windflow analysis to directly impact the building’s design. This impact includes the creation of the sports arena’s distinctive, vertical-louvered façade, the setback core of the residential tower’s ground floors, and the placement of trees in the landscape design, which reduced the wind velocity at the corner of the building facing the ocean.

FlowDesigner external airflow image courtesy of University of Tokyo students.

FlowDesigner external airflow image courtesy of University of Tokyo students.

“The wind pattern played a major role in the generation of the design’s geometry because if the environment near the project is not good, it will become a problem after construction,” said Ibrahim. “The BIM data that we were able to access and communicate through Vectorworks Architect made our simulation very detailed, which was helpful given the small timeframe. It felt like we were on a real business deadline, which was beneficial to experience as a student.”

Professional opportunities like these aren’t limited to Build New York Live. Students at the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña have participated in various competitions over the past year using Vectorworks as their design software, including one jointly sponsored by the Dominican Ministry of External Affairs (Mirex) and the government of South Korea. This competition tasked students with creating a single building that could hold all of the facilities for the Information Technologies department of the Ministry of External Affairs. Students Antonio Brighenti, María del Carmen Peignand Espinal, Miguel Enrique Sánchez Paradas, Camila Marcelle Yaryura Luna, and Eileen Nicolás Resek came in second place out of 32 teams.

Participants in the Mirex Competition. From left to right: Antonio Brighenti, María del Carmen Peignand Espinal, Miguel Enrique Sánchez Paradas, Camila Marcelle Yaryura Luna, Rubén Hernández Fontana (Professor), Eileen Nicolás Resek, and Pablo Yermenos González (Professor).

Participants in the Mirex Competition. From left to right: Antonio Brighenti, María del Carmen Peignand Espinal, Miguel Enrique Sánchez Paradas, Camila Marcelle Yaryura Luna, Rubén Hernández Fontana (Professor), Eileen Nicolás Resek, and Pablo Yermenos González (Professor).

University students also entered a competition sponsored by Latin American steel group Alacero, for which Sara Elisa Tejada Tejada and Katherine Mabel Rodriguez Alonso, along with collaborators Wellington Iván Tejada Méndez and Franya María Rodríguez Felix, responded to a prompt to create a “Sports and Social Center” that improves a deteriorated urban area and uses steel in an innovative way. Architect and professor Rubén Hernández Fontana mentored the MIREX team, as well as the Dominican team that participated in Build New York Live. He notes that working with students is working with the future.

“Competitions provide great networking opportunities for students, strengthening their links with professionals from other areas of their industries and other parts of the world,” says Hernández Fontana, owner of Dominican design firm ESTUDIO CARIBE. “The students’ global perspective of the profession expands, giving them tools that will strengthen their career opportunities in a profession that increasingly demands more communication, more multidisciplinary collaboration, and more social responsibility.”

Submission to the Alacero Competition by students from the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña.

Submission to the Alacero Competition by students from the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henríquez Ureña.

Students who participated in both the Mirex and Alacero competitions used Vectorworks software to explore their ideas and create projects that have real-world applications. But we’re sure they’re not the only ones! Whether you’re a student or a professional, connect with us on Facebook or Twitter to share how you’ve participated in a competition.

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

The crowd thrummed in anticipation to the beat of the music in Baltimore, Maryland’s Inner Harbor before the nightly performance of Diorama, a live show combining the talents of artist Michael Owen, choreographer Tony Byrd, and lighting designer Jay Herzog. Diorama is billed as a hybrid art piece showcasing dancing and painting in symbiosis, but like everything else at the inaugural Light City event, the longer you watched the more you discovered.

Lighting programmer and operator Helen Garcia-Alton uses a grandMA2 console to illuminate Diorama at Baltimore's Light City event.

Lighting programmer and operator Helen Garcia-Alton uses a grandMA2 console to illuminate Diorama at Baltimore’s Light City event.

“The show represents a day in the life of someone in Baltimore,” Byrd says. “From the softer, blue light and slower choreography at the beginning symbolizing the early morning, to the brighter colors and high-energy movement throughout the hustle and bustle of the day, and back to the gentle blue as the day closes, Diorama is a story that the people of Baltimore can relate to.”

Byrd notes that the show is an intricate rescaling of multiple art forms. Owen, who typically paints large murals along the streets of Baltimore, brings his work down to a more personal level during the live performance. Meanwhile, dancers are elevated to a grander stage as they move throughout Diorama’s box-like stage, using the platforms embedded along the walls to flow lithely across the emerging painting, making the show equal parts dance and acrobatics.

Herzog’s lighting design is also an integral piece of the performance. The colors of the lights, carefully timed to match each ethereal song, change both the vibe of the dancers and the look of the painting. This additional facet of Diorama affects the audience’s perception of the story being told, as well as Owen’s color palette, at carefully timed intervals throughout the show. As the light casts shadows behind the dancers and the artist, the depth of the small space magnifies, pulling the crowd deeper into the performance and eliciting “oohs” and “aahs” with each shift in tone.

Programmers and operators Garcia-Alton (left) and Lillie Kahkonen (right) use well-timed lighting to enhance the performance for the enraptured audience.

Programmers and operators Garcia-Alton (left) and Lillie Kahkonen (right) use well-timed lighting to enhance the performance for crowds at the inaugural Light City.

Created with Vectorworks Spotlight software, the show’s lighting design was exported to ESP Vision for previsualization prior to the event. A grandMA2 lighting console sits on standby nearby as the show changes every night, and some alterations need to be made on the fly to maximize the combination of light and art.

“It’s an incredible show to be a part of,” says Helen Garcia-Alton, a lighting designer and entertainment industry intern at Vectorworks, Inc. who programed Herzog’s lighting design for Diorama in ESP Vision with her colleague and fellow operator Lillie Kahkonen. “There are so many powerful lights that we get to use for this show, and it’s a really fun opportunity for me as a young designer. And after Diorama ends, I get to play with lights until Light City is over for the night, which has been really fun.”

Garcia-Alton (left), Lighting Designer Jay Herzog (center), and Kahkonen (right) celebrate another successful show.

Garcia-Alton (left), Lighting Designer Jay Herzog (center), and Kahkonen (right) celebrate another successful show.

This after show combines Diorama’s colorful effects with powerful spotlights pointing outward toward the city, lighting up the Baltimore skyline and connecting the now finished painting within the box to the larger Light City event. The first large-scale light festival in the United States, Light City aims to use innovative programming to generate an ecosystem of ideas and learning that shines a light on Baltimore’s abundance of creative visionaries.

If you’re in the Baltimore-metro area, you can experience Diorama and all of the attractions of Light City before it ends on Sunday, April 3. Owen, Byrd, and Herzog craft an entirely new performance every evening at 8:00 p.m., so no matter how many times you’ve seen it, Diorama can still amaze and delight.

The annual Build Earth Live competitions bring together designers from across the globe to tackle a wide variety of challenges using BIM workflows and cloud technology, and this year is no different. Organized by Asite, this year’s competition is centered around linking Dubai and Abu Dhabi with a super-speed Hyperloop. In particular, it focuses on creating station terminuses within the context of the two cities in the United Arab Emirates. The 48-hour event kicks off on Monday, May 23, 2016 at noon ET and ends on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 at noon ET. The wide timeframe facilitates flexible schedules among international team members in different time zones.


The Hyperloop is an evolved bullet train and the potential future of transportation with the ability to accelerate pressurized passenger pods in air-vacuumed, suspended tubes at speeds up to 760 miles per hour. Not only does the suspension of the tubes protect against natural disasters like earthquakes, but the system also reduces transportation complications such as cost and travel time. The only catch is that there are no Hyperloop transportation systems in existence yet, but this competition may be able to turn this literal pipedream into reality.

“This eighth edition of the Build Earth Live series is a return to the Middle East, following the success of Build Qatar Live in 2012. We will be focusing on the infrastructure challenges around one of the most exciting innovations of our time in transportation technology — the Hyperloop concept,” Asite COO Nathan Doughty says. “The Hyperloop is a disruptive innovation that could radically alter the world we live in for the better, and we are excited to see what concepts the teams create in May!”

Courtesy of Build Earth Live

Build Earth Live exists to raise awareness of cloud-based working, international developments in interoperability, and public access to the design process. Vectorworks has been a proud sponsor of the annual competition for the past five years to help illuminate how new technology is revolutionizing construction.

“On behalf of Vectorworks, we are happy to return as headline sponsor of the Build Earth Live series, and as in year’s past, the competition selection surely won’t disappoint with the Hyperloop technology’s theoretical potential to reduce travel time between the cities to about five minutes,” said Jeremy Powell, director of product marketing at Vectorworks. “Also, the competition serves as an important reminder that openBIM is a powerful way to connect people for collaborative work, and we can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with.”

Prior to the competition, Asite will release a high-level design brief followed by the release of full details. Teams are free to use any interoperable software and encouraged to keep a public collaboration site so that visitors can observe and comment on the process.

The event will conclude with an awards ceremony and presentations to the press. Award winners will be recognized as leaders in their field and masters of collaborative technologies.

There are many different ways to contribute to your team’s design, so don’t worry if you’re nervous that you don’t have enough BIM experience. Interested participants can form their own teams, connect with potential team members, or just observe the event if they’d like. Regardless of how you plan to engage, make sure you register now to help shape the future of the Hyperloop.

We’ve already taken you through the post-WWII era of Atomic architecture, but one burning question remains: with civilization no longer teetering on the brink of nuclear Armageddon, what happens to design? To help find an answer, Art in Architecture webinar series host Steve Alden, AIA, is continuing his exploration of the past with two new episodes airing April 5 and May 10 at 2:00 p.m. ET, each worth 1 AIA LU.

“In the April 5 webinar, we will explore why architects of the mid 60s to the mid 80s lost faith in the pure aesthetic of modern design and created a new movement charged with symbolism and meaning. Then in the following episode on May 10 comes deconstructivism, an intellectual rejection of the perfectionist tendencies of post-modernism,” Alden says. “This leads us to today’s designers, empowered by technology, rebelling against expectations, taking risks, and having fun.”

Learn more about the webinars and register below.

NetResults_AiA_registration_header_no8Post-Preapocalyptic Architecture: 1965-1985 on April 5 at 2:00 p.m. ET
In this episode, Alden dissects the shift away from the stripped-down functionalism of modern design that was a hallmark of the Atomic age toward the diverse aesthetics, ornamentation, and symbolism of the post-modern movement, examining the work of many of this period’s renowned architects, ranging from Robert Venturi and Philip Johnson to Michael Graves and Charles Gwathmey.

NetResults_AiA_registration_header_no.9PoMo Interdictive Architecture: 1985-2005 on May 10 at 2:00 p.m. ET
Next, Alden delves into today’s maturing response to the post-modern movement. Enabled by the precision of computers, this era of design is marked by experimentation in shape and structure, using technology to push the limits of what a building can become and forging a sense of style through the totality of a form rather than its individual elements.

Register now to reserve your spot in each webinar. And if you want to learn more about design and pick up a few quick AIA LUs, then check out our Inspiration page to watch past episodes of Art in Architecture on-demand.

Free stuff makes people happy, and we love to make people happy, especially when it involves bringing everyone together to celebrate great design. So, we decided to give away a few trips to our 2016 Vectorworks Design Summit. We ran the promotion in early March on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and we’re excited to announce the three lucky designers who won free registration, airfare, and hotel stay to attend our April 25-27 conference in Chicago. Now, we know you may be jealous, but you should still take the time to get to know our winners.

Our Instagram Winner: Jonas Witte of Berlin, Germany

Witte graduated with a bachelor of arts from Erfurt University of Applied Sciences in 2013. He is currently studying for his master of arts, also from Erfurt University, and plans to graduate this August. Witte interned for Freier Architekt Rainer Uwe Schultheiss, an architectural firm based out of Erfurt that specializes in residential, academic, and industrial facilities.

After finishing his studies, Witte hopes to continue building his industry experience at a small firm, where he can focus on developing his architectural and Vectorworks skills. In addition, he one day aspires to even start his own firm.

“This will be my first time going to America and my first flight ever,” Witte said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to improve upon my design skills and develop new contacts in the architecture industry at the Design Summit.”

Our Twitter Winner: Mitchell Elliott of Alberta, Canada

A Vectorworks user since the early MiniCad years, Elliott has been a practicing architect, specializing in residential projects in Calgary for more than 30 years. Much of his work is in the established, inner city neighborhoods where it’s crucial to balance the wishes of the client with the requirements of the city planning department, as well as the expectations of the local community. While he does collaborate with several local firms, much of his work is as a sole practitioner using Vectorworks software to prepare both his design and contract drawings.

An active participant on our Community Board, Elliott is excited to put a face to the name of so many users he’s met over the years and to discover what new tricks he’ll pick up at the Design Summit. After all, his giveaway entry did say as much:

Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 11.29.43 AM

“Over the years I’ve helped a lot of newbies get started with Vectorworks software. As I’ve worked with them, I’ve learned a lot from experiencing their unique approaches to the design process firsthand,” Elliott said. “The Design Summit provides me with another great opportunity to better my work by exploring other designers’ workflows and how they make the most of Vectorworks’ tools.”

Our Facebook Winner: Amanda Warren of Nacogdoches, Texas

With a bachelor in fine arts degree from Stephen F. Austin State University, Warren is a recent graduate with a focus on lighting and sound design who looks forward to contributing to the entertainment industry. Throughout her experiences, she has embraced both design and technical opportunities to work on a variety of productions, while also branching out to other areas in order to further enhance her skills.

She studied in London at Rose Bruford College, while abroad she was also an assistant designer at Stratford Circus and received her Green Hippo V3 Media certification. Warren will work this upcoming summer as an electrician at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine.

“Surprisingly enough, I’m most excited about networking with designers outside the entertainment design industry at the Design Summit to take advantage of their in-depth understanding of Vectorworks software,” Warren said. “I plan to learn as much as possible while there to further enhance my skills so that I can continue to capitalize on design opportunities down the line.”

Congratulations again to all our winners. We look forward to meeting you in person at the Vectorworks Design Summit in Chicago!

For many architecture students around the world, there is no chapter in their textbooks that describes how to execute a BIM workflow. Much of the information that they receive comes from different sources and can even be contradictory. That’s why Carlo Galatioto, a recent graduate student from the Bern University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland with no experience with in-depth BIM workflows, decided to break the mold, using his final thesis as an opportunity to explore the practical use of BIM.

Galatioto's thesis project

Galatioto’s thesis project

With the help of his professors, Galatioto’s thesis aimed to design a functional project based on realistic criteria using BIM workflows. His assignment thus required him to incorporate the information necessary for contractors and engineers to understand his design, as well as use multiple software products with an extensive data exchange. The Level of Detail (LOD) required for this project was high, so Galatioto had to make use of open BIM workflows to ensure a successful grade.

Galatioto used Solibri model-checker software in conjunction with his 3D model, designed with Vectorworks Architect software, to test his project’s technical and functional feasibility. In doing so, he was able to retain his creative vision while also discovering that he needed to leave more space for ventilation shafts and verifying that the exit routes in the building would meet local regulations.

This workflow was enabled by IFC export. While Galatioto’s design made use of many smart objects within Vectorworks Architect that are preloaded with IFC export data, the unique geometric shape of the building meant that more detailed work was required. To maintain the originality of his structure, Galatioto used Vectorworks Architect’s built-in BIM capabilities to manually assign IFC information to an object, enabling his project to meet the requirements for BIM data exchange. Galatioto’s final design subsequently held information ranging from building sustainability and fire resistance to materials information from manufacturers, which could help potential construction teams and facility managers into the future.

Galatioto's thesis project

Galatioto’s thesis project

With IFC data used to coordinate building data, Galatioto’s thesis was more than just a great design. His project included building costs, scheduling data, and spatial information, all of which could be easily passed on to his professors for evaluation.

Galatioto’s project proves that anyone, even someone with little to no BIM experience, can design an entire project using open BIM methodology if they’re willing to put in the effort to learn how. And if you’re wondering if Galatioto made the grade, you can rest assured. His thesis received an exceptional score from his professors, experts in the Swiss BIM community, and he earned his bachelor’s degree. Potential employers, be on the lookout!

By Frank Brault, Industry Product Specialist at Vectorworks, Inc. 

With 2016 now in full swing, many of our resolutions for the year may have already fallen by the wayside. However, becoming a more efficient designer doesn’t have to involve a big change — you can start by simply looking at your design process in a different way. Here are a few things I’ve learned while designing over the past 30+ years to help you improve your workflow.

Frank Brault, industry product specialist at Vectorworks, Inc.

Frank Brault, industry product specialist at Vectorworks, Inc.

#1: Ideas are Cheap
Back when I was a student and I took my first real design class, I thought I created the most perfect designs there ever were. I had the ideas instantly and worked tirelessly all week to execute them. At my design critiques, however, I received surprisingly negative comments, and I had a really hard time letting go of my first concepts. But as it turns out, that feedback was the start of a lesson that I learned over time: Design projects always have a period of transition before they really get rolling, and your initial idea isn’t always the best answer. When you are a designer, there must always be other ways to approach a solution that achieve the needs of a particular project, group, and time.

#2: Define the Problem Before You Try to Solve It
Every design is the solution to a problem. Designs always turn out better if you define the problem with your team as the first step. It seems obvious, but coming up with a statement of the problem and how you are going to address it is critical to success. The statement doesn’t have to be in any particular format or medium; rather, it just needs to be created in a way that everyone understands, enabling each team member to respond and contribute to the solution.

#3: Do Your Research
Virtually every design problem has been addressed in some way at some time in the past. Once you have defined yours, look up examples of how others have solved your problem or similar problems. Make it your job to find those previous solutions, so you can acknowledge and take advantage of discoveries that came before. This research isn’t to copy the designs of the past; rather, it’s about learning from the way that others have dealt with what you face. Remember that each solution has different parameters, and that yours will be unique and better as a result of this essential design step.

#4: Stick With the Concept
Come up with a concept statement that everyone agrees with, so that the goal or end result you’re striving for is clearly articulated. Then, be sure to communicate ideas in terms of the concept statement. If you make a practice of working out each aspect of the design and conducting each conversation in this way, then the audience will be able to understand the point-of-view of the approach, as well as the problem that the design solves.

#5: Have a Reason for Every Choice
I once had an epiphany when asked why I put some element where I did: I always want to communicate my choices in terms of the concept statement with which everyone is working. This idea enforces the discipline of conscientiously working with the concept at every level. It gives a remarkable clarity to decision-making. Where possible, you should be able to explain a design choice to your client from the point-of-view of the agreed-upon conceptual goal. So, the conversation is about supporting the concept rather than why you placed a particular design element where it is.

#6: Most Things Take Longer Than Expected
Design, and especially collaborative design, is messy business. Things don’t always go the way they seem they might. No matter how long you think it will take to get something done, unexpected events make the project take more time. When this happens, either the deadline must be extended or something must be done differently to deliver on time. At times like these, it is a practical skill to be able to evaluate what can be eliminated or what can work as is without affecting the final result negatively. If you practice this skill regularly, you’ll learn to be nimble under the duress of a change in schedule or other emergency.

#7: Teamwork Makes the Dream Work
Besides being a snappy quote that I hear a lot, this last lesson garners a place in my list because time and again, the best projects get that way when the group possesses the ability to work together toward a common goal. In my world, design is a collaborative endeavor. I am always working with other people on a project. On the best projects, everyone works toward the same idea. The conversations are dynamic, non-partisan, and have lots of deep integration with everyone’s input piling on. When it’s working right, every team member has a perspective that can refine the project in ways that can’t be accomplished by any single person. And that interaction makes your projects a fantastic experience for your audience and clients!

These ideas may seem obvious, but taking the time to think about them before you start a new project can yield surprising results. Happy designing!

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

We’re talking about tools for the designer on the move in this month’s Tech Roundup. Check out the following videos to explore how you can make the most of your software even when you’re not at your desk.

In this first video, you’ll learn all about the Vectorworks Remote App, which is available to all Vectorworks software users including those of you with educational and trial licenses. Vectorworks Remote enables you to view and walkthrough your designs using a tablet or mobile device that’s connected to the same network as your computer, making it a great tool for presentations.

And if you want to get even farther away from your desk with your designs, download the Vectorworks Nomad App, which gives you the ability to view and mark up 2D PDF versions of your projects, as well as explore 3D rendered models, for your tablet or mobile device anytime, anywhere. Supported by cloud technology, Vectorworks Nomad is an exclusive Vectorworks Service Select member benefit.

So go ahead — break free of your desk! And as always, if you have any questions, reach out to us at or tweet us @VectorworksHelp.