By David Chadwick, Editor of CAD User

*Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in CAD User’s May/June 2016 issue 

Stormwater management using site analysis tools in Vectorworks Landmark software was the focus of a fascinating presentation at the recent Vectorworks Design Summit in Chicago.

Looking for safe areas to put new developments on a small and overcrowded island is going to get more and more difficult as time progresses. It is not only large scale rural developments that need to take greater account of the areas they hope to be building on either – small plots will also impact to some degree on an area’s ability to withstand increasingly cataclysmic wet events.

Proof of that in Somerset, for example, is the choice of crops adjacent to main roads. Sweet corn, or maize, left to mature as cattle fodder, compacts the soil so that it inhibits water absorption – which then runs off and floods sections of roads previously untroubled by flooding. Building a small residential development that similarly hinders water retention and safe removal will have the same effect. We should work to zero net effect – i.e. does the project we are working on materially alter the flow in and out of water compared to its undeveloped state?

There is also the other aspect of water management, the re-use of grey water by filtration, and the replenishment of precious water resources, which, it is calculated, will be rather scarce within the next fifty years – a fact of vital importance to burgeoning urban areas. This is something that we will all no doubt become more aware of over time, but here we are mainly concerned with achievable results in small-scale developments.

We can calculate water throughput using tools available in Vectorworks software, and manage it by making the development more stormwater-friendly, by dispensing with gutters and downpipes, and letting water flow naturally onto permeable pavements, as they do in some parts of Canada, which assist in ground absorption of water. We can also analyse predicted weather patterns and stormwater events over a number of years for a particular area, and install a system of drainage pipes, gulleys, stormtanks, swales and other features to handle the most extreme of them.

Having covered Stormwater management solutions provided by dedicated hydrological software developers in past issues of the magazine, I was very interested to see how the problem of calculating stormwater flows and designing drainage systems to handle them would be handled within Vectorworks software’s broader range of design solutions. I was gratified to discover that the flexibility of design tools within the software covered all pertinent issues.

Site analysis in the Landmark module of Vectorworks is the starting point for stormwater analysis. This allows users to build up a DTM or 3D terrain model of a site from imported survey data, define the site limits and its watershed, show the flow of water off the site through gradients and arrows, and then use Vectorworks site modifiers and massing tools to carve out the site and position the proposed construction elements. And, of course, to design and lay out the water management features.

Image courtesy of Grey Leaf Design, Inc.

Each water management component or feature comes with dimensions, capacities and throughputs, smart objects which can be aggregated within Excel-like worksheets within the software. Using Layers and Classes to keep the worksheets simple, and easily created using either the Create Report feature in Vectorworks, which selects information from the selected objects in the model, or using the Resource Browser to create a blank worksheet and fill it appropriately. Once created, it is saved with the model within the Resource Browser.

Specific components, such as Brentwood Stormtanks, an American stormwater holding tank which is also available globally, and similar, obviously come with performance capabilities attached.

Worksheets are also used to calculate other critical aspects of stormwater management. Site Impervious Cover Calculations provide localised existing and proposed imperviousness conditions – how fast water will dissipate through the ground. Phosphorous Export Calculations provide the data for determining pre- and post-development pollution levels, and what is required to minimise pollution.

There is a handy tool that can take all of the data from Vectorworks worksheets and perform the numerous calculations required to satisfy the projects requirements. The downloadable MIDS Calculator (Minimal Impact Design Standards), developed by the Minnesota Stormwater Manual team that is a part of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, is designed to keep the raindrop where it falls in order to minimise stormwater runoff and pollution and preserve natural resources.

The manual provides volume and pollutant reductions based on the assumption that the Best Management Practice (BMP) is properly designed, constructed and maintained. It also gives copious guidance and recommendations for design, construction and maintenance of stormwater management systems.

Best Management Practice represents the best proven solution for each type of water management system. BMPs are created by looking at a number of solutions – designing by worksheets – and coming at a solution obliquely. This provides data that sets the boundaries of what might and what will not work. Through not trying to get the right solution the first time, a range of trial solutions will be recorded, incidentally providing some planning authorities with the reports and background calculations to support planning applications if they ask for them!

Image courtesy of Grey Leaf Design, Inc.

That’s the theory at least. Some more practical elements need to be considered though, such as the site’s impervious coverage limits and the amount of water retention to aim for – say 80% for a level 1 event, and 60% for a level 2 event – an event being an expected storm once every 10 or 100 years in a given area (figures that I suspect need drastic upward revision judging by recent weather events).

Keeping Watershed Events in a separate Design Layer enables flow rate calculations to be performed merely by dropping the appropriate worksheets on the Design Layer. Multiple worksheets allow different aspects to be calculated – flow rates, phosphorous export rates, perc (percolation) rates, RR (Restoration and Recovery) rates, and post-construction stormwater run-off. Calculations specific to installed stormwater equipment is valid worldwide. Rainwater, soil imperviousness and other natural effects are local phenomena and appropriate data is available for download into yet more worksheets for adjusting local data.

If the selected BMP uses the correct design criteria – and it is suggested that BMPs are used for individual elements of the water course – users will be able to calculate the system capacity, water capture and drawdown times, which, when aggregated, will provide data for the correct sizing of drain pipes.

Stormtanks, such as the Brentwood Stormtanks mentioned earlier, can be combined to form underground temporary water storage areas below driveways or garden areas, but require additional infiltration and impervious membranes to retain water. Another stormwater management option that can, surprisingly, be assessed using Vectorworks worksheets, is bioretention – where contaminants and sediments are removed from rainwater run-off by creating natural drainage features, which allow sediment to be captured by plants in natural ponds, stormwater ponds and wild-life wetlands.

It appears then that designing a stormwater management system for any given area is entirely possible using Vectorworks software. The mathematic algorithms you will need are available within the MIDS calculator. So as long as you are familiar with the function of the different stormwater goods and features you would like to include in your model and their capabilities, can download local weather data, and are familiar with Vectorworks worksheets, then Vectorworks Landmark could be the solution for you.

If you have a free moment to lounge around in the sun this summer (or conversely, if you’re on the other side of the world and are about to bundle up for a wintry night in), then we have a few articles to add to your reading list. From in-depth discussions and compelling reviews to awards and video interviews, we’ve collected some of the latest and greatest articles covering all things Vectorworks software to help you stay in the know.

1) Land8’s writer Nicholas Buesking explored the ins and outs of Vectorworks Landmark software in his review. Here are two quotes that speak to the caliber of the review:

  • “Vectorworks’ comprehensive drafting package is not its only selling point. As it stands now, it is the mostly highly integrated BIM software tool available on the market for landscape architects.”
  • “Landmark is geared specifically toward landscape architects. It is one of the only drafting programs that truly does this, providing tools for grading, planting, and irrigation as well as structural tools. Even within landscape design, the company seeks to provide versatility.”

Land8 image

2) Our Vectorworks Architect software received an AIA “Best of Show” award in the Desktop category from Architosh. Learn more about what won us the coveted title here.2016_award_master_desktop3) Check out Architect and Writer John Helm’s review of our upcoming #Vectorworks2017 feature, Virtual Reality, to stay up-to-date on how this new tool can change your workflow.

4) Read this in-depth interview with our CEO Dr. Biplab Sarkar from the 2016 Vectorworks Design Summit, where he speaks about his new role and upcoming developments planned for our software.


5) The article “A Zero Sum Game?” in CAD User explores the capabilities and benefits of stormwater management in Vectorworks Landmark software.

6) While not strictly reading, watch this video interview with our own Product Marketing Manager – Entertainment Frank Brault, who scored some camera time with rave Publications during the InfoComm conference last month in Las Vegas.

Want to make your own headlines? Email with project photos and details about your latest inspired work, and you could be next!

We love talking to our users — whether it’s over social media, on the community board, during a firm visit, or even during a 1-on-1 software demo. It helps us to discover what drives our users’ passion for design, how we can better help them succeed, and what they love most about our software. That’s why we decided to reward three lucky designers with a complimentary trip to attend the 2016 Vectorworks Design Summit in Chicago for simply engaging with us on social media.

Our three trip winners (L-R), Jonas Witte, Amanda Warren, and Mitchell Elliott at the 2016 Vectorworks Design Summit

Our three trip winners (L-R), Jonas Witte, Amanda Warren, and Mitchell Elliott at the 2016 Vectorworks Design Summit

Since their trip to the Windy City in April, we’ve been eager to explore their top takeaways from the event and learn about their next steps within the world of design. Let’s explore what our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook winners had to say about the conference.

Our Instagram Winner: Jonas Witte of Berlin, Germany

For Jonas Witte, a grad student at Erfurt University of Applied Sciences who will finish his degree in August, this trip was not only a perfectly timed networking event but also an invaluable opportunity to further improve his already awe-inspiring rendering skills. As such, two of his favorite Summit sessions were naturally “Rendering for Success” and “Rendering Tips, Tricks, and Other Cool Stuff.”

Examples of Witte’s work

Examples of Witte’s work

One of Witte’s most exciting discoveries at the Summit was Energos, the powerful, integrated tool in Vectorworks software that gives real-time feedback on a design’s energy efficiency. “Discovering Energos will prove very useful for my future design career,” Witte says. “It’s a great tool for even beginner students to learn how to master sustainable design.”

While there were obvious workflow and networking benefits to his attendance, it was also an important experience for him as it was both his first time in the United States and his first flight ever!

Witte (far right) is shown on a Chicago architectural tour with (L-R) CEO Bonggill “Alvin” Chu and Assistant Manager Maxim Hahm of Live-Lab Lighting and Visual Expression Laboratory, our Korean distribution partner.

Witte (far right) is shown on a Chicago architectural tour with (L-R) CEO Bonggill “Alvin” Chu and Assistant Manager Maxim Hahm of Live-Lab Lighting and Visual Expression Laboratory, our Korean distribution partner.

Currently, Witte works for the office of Architekturbüro Ebersberger in Erfurt and hopes to continue working there after his graduation. In the future, Witte dreams of setting up his own architecture office in Switzerland or Austria near the Swiss Alps, which inspire his designs.

Our Twitter Winner: Mitchell Elliott of Alberta, Canada

As a long-time Vectorworks software user, Elliott was beyond thrilled to attend the Summit. He operates as a solo-practitioner, so he admits that one of the major benefits of attending was the opportunity to see how others are using the software and pick up new tricks from their workflows.

Elliott’s commitment is made apparent by his vast collection of Vectorworks software guides from over the years.

Elliott’s commitment is made apparent by his vast collection of Vectorworks software guides from over the years.

“Once an office develops standards for their design practice, everyone falls into step and new aspects of the software can be ignored,” Elliott said. “Attending the Summit allowed me to look over the shoulders of other users and discover several new approaches to using the software.”

Elliott comically referred to himself as an “old dog” eager to learn some new tricks in his entry tweet, which proved to be true. When asked about the most valuable thing he learned at the Summit, Elliott said, “There isn’t just one answer. I learned a number of things that are useful at different stages of a project. At the moment, one of my favorite things I picked up is that you can right click for the contextual menu, then click ‘Create Similar Object,’ which has been a very nice timesaver.”

The most surprising benefit of attending the Summit, Elliot claims, was the ability to explore the Art Institute of Chicago during the Customer Appreciation Party. After all, what originally drove Elliott to become a designer was his fascination with all aspects of building and construction, so he appreciated the museum’s stunning design and plethora of inspirational art.

Elliott with Teri Young of Paxar Tech, one of the Vectorworks distributors in Canada, at the Art Institute of Chicago for the Customer Appreciation Party.

Elliott with Teri Young of Paxar Tech, one of the Vectorworks distributors in Canada, at the Art Institute of Chicago for the Customer Appreciation Party.

In the future, he hopes to start incorporating Passive House standards into his projects with the help of Energos as he thinks “energy efficiency is going to be an increasingly important component in future projects.”

Our Facebook Winner: Amanda Warren of Nacogdoches, Texas

As a recent Stephen F. Austin State University theatre design graduate, Warren was set to begin her professional career at the Ogunquit Playhouse in Maine on the electrics crew in early May. Her preparations for the big move from Texas to Maine were underway when she found out she would be attending the Summit, a perfectly timed precursor the week before beginning her post-graduate life.

While Warren says she won’t stop chasing her dream of working in lighting design, she confessed her favorite part of the Summit was the wide variety of sessions offered. “I was astonished by the vast amount of things Vectorworks software is capable of, both within the theatre design industry and outside of it, such as architectural work.”

Otherwise, she particularly favored the entertainment design sessions, as well as the fact that there was always something going on and always something to learn.

One thing she wasn’t expecting was getting to meet the “father” of Vectorworks Spotlight software, our Product Marketing Manager – Entertainment Frank Brault.

Brault and Warren snapped a selfie at the Design Summit.

Brault and Warren snapped a selfie at the Design Summit.

In the future, Warren hopes to continue building on her experience in the entertainment industry and eventually become a professor. “I believe being able to inspire someone and give them opportunities to grow is an invaluable gift,” she says.

As a recent graduate, Warren also had some great advice for young designers, “Don’t be afraid to go for it! The worst-case scenario is that someone says no, and then you just move on,” Warren says. “That’s how I found myself in the wonderful situation of attending the Vectorworks Design Summit!”

Future Giveaways

We hope you’re not too upset that you didn’t win a free Vectorworks Design Summit trip, but there’s always another giveaway coming. Make sure you follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, so you don’t miss out on other awesome freebies.

P.S. If you’re looking for some time in the limelight, we also love featuring our users’ designs to reward them for engaging with us! For a chance to get your work highlighted, use #VectorworksFeatureMe in your next social media post.

From churches, theatres, and schools to corporate events, concerts, and music festivals, the demand for exceptional previsualization software to cue shows and perfect experiences is at an all-time high. So to help these growing and varying needs, we’re offering a more cost-effective pricing structure for Vision, our previz software.

Vision Blog Image Previz Rendering“We’ve seen a trend in the market where lighting designers are needing more and more Universes to support the growing number and complexity of lighting fixtures in a show,” said Vectorworks Chief Marketing Officer Stewart Rom. “This new pricing structure will further empower lighting designers and programmers to purchase Vision at a more affordable price point that matches the demands of the venue and performance no matter their size.”

With Vision, you can preview the look of a performance before even setting foot in the venue. Previz not only saves both money and time, but it also allows you to make modifications in advance with ease, enabling a more efficient workflow.

Our three new Vision pricing tiers include:

  • VISION: 1 Universe costs $395 (previously cost $750)
  • VISION PLUS: 4 Universes cost $1,295 (previously cost $3,000)
  • VISION UNLIMITED: Unlimited Universes cost $1,995 (previously cost $7,500)

Already a Vision customer? You’re eligible to upgrade your license to the next tier when you renew your subscription.

Bundled pricing for Vision plus Vectorworks Spotlight software is also available through the end of the year. Purchasers will receive $200 off their selected Vision software tier when purchasing Spotlight at the same time. Our bundled offer allows lighting designers to make the most out of their designs by first generating drawings, paperwork, and 3D models in Spotlight and then moving the models directly into Vision for simulating and cuing their work.

If you’re a student or educator, we are also offering cost-effective options that include $198 for one Universe and $648 for four Universes (previously $495 per Universe for educators and $249 for one Universe for students over one year).

And pricing isn’t the only development for Vision. We recently released Vision 4, with notable improvements that include:

  • Enriched rendering performance that increases Frames Per Second (FPS) for a smoother previsualization experience
  • Enhanced rendering quality of GOBOS and light beams that provide greater resolution for higher detail visualization of beams in the air
  • Stronger color mixing that creates a more accurate representation of intersecting beams of light for a better visual display

Other improvements and bug fixes can be found in this Community Board post, or you can contact for more information on these updates.

Visit the web store to purchase your copy of Vision.

Delving into the world of graphical scripting with little to no prior experience can be difficult. That’s where The Proving Ground, a data-driven building consultancy firm, comes in to help show you how it’s done with their “Coding your Nodes: Extending Marionette with Python” webinar, worth one AIA LU.


Designs courtesy of Michelle Lindgren and Caitlin Tangeman

The Proving Ground’s Founder and Managing Director Nathan Miller and the Director of Applied Research David Stasiuk will teach you how to leverage the power of Marionette, the integrated graphical scripting feature introduced in Vectorworks 2016, in your projects to streamline your workflow.

The webinar touches upon current trends in algorithmic design, as well as the real-world applications of Marionette, ways to customize the graphical interface, and the process for extracting the data to create comprehensive documentation of your work.

After you’ve finished watching the webinar, take this test to receive one AIA LU.

From NBA games to corporate events, image projection and 3D technology company Quince Imaging dazzles viewers by mapping vibrant, moving displays onto every surface imaginable. The team at Quince Imaging combines the talents of engineers, media server operators, and motion graphics artists to produce their shows, using Vectorworks Spotlight software to pull it all together.

Learn more about the creative process at Quince Imaging, as well as how design software empowers their workflows, by watching the video below.

After watching, head over to our Case Studies page to explore more stories about designers who do incredible things with Vectorworks software.

Vectorworks has teamed up with the Fundacío Mies van der Rohe to give architecture, urban planning, and landscape design students across Europe an opportunity to gain recognition for creating remarkable experiences. As an extension of the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture, the Young Talent Architecture Award (YTAA) is open to European higher education institutions, which must register and nominate their student’s best capstone projects from the 2015-2016 academic year by July 29, 2016 to qualify.

As a company, we take inspiration from visionaries like Mies, who challenged traditional notions of design and left a visible mark on city skylines around the world. That’s why we’re excited to take part in this new program!

The Story Behind the Iconic Architect

To fully benefit from all the knowledge to be gleaned from Mies’ legacy, let’s first take you through the story of his successes and his fundamental views on design.

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was born in 1886 in Aachen, the westernmost city in Germany. Though he began his professional life as an apprentice bricklayer, his extraordinary drawing talent earned him recommendations for a number of architecture offices. Early in his career, he worked under esteemed architects John Martens and Bruno Paul in Berlin. At 21-years-old, he designed his first house, the Riehl House, before joining the Berlin-based firm of architect Peter Behrens in 1908. Mies refined his style over the next several decades, eschewing austere, enclosed designs of the time for minimalist designs with large, open spaces.

Fundamental to Mies’ design philosophy, and one of the driving forces behind his iconic use of glass, was the concept of fluid space. He believed that architecture should embody a continuous flow of space, blurring the lines between interior and exterior. The use of glass was essential in making this philosophy a physical reality. In one his most popular buildings, the German Pavilion at the 1929 International Exposition at Barcelona (better known as the Barcelona Pavilion), movable glass and marble partitions created a flexible space that is independent of the structure itself. The building was disassembled in 1930 following the Exposition though architects banded together 50 years later to rebuild the pavilion on its original site.

Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion

Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion

After struggling to find work in a radically changing Germany, Mies immigrated to Chicago in 1937, where he was appointed director of the architecture program at the Illinois Institute of Technology. To this day, the Institute is marked by Mies’ signature style; buildings like the Minerals and Metals Building and the Alumni Hall bear large glass windows and stark steel framing, the trademarks of a Mies-designed structure.

While in America, Mies developed a modernist design style called the Second Chicago School of Architecture, which consisted primarily of high-rise buildings using steel, glass, and open spaces to create minimalistic, functional buildings. Many buildings today owe a debt to Mies’ vision; from ribbon windows to glass and metal skyscrapers, Mies’ influence is salient in many cities, including New York City’s towering Seagram Building on Park Avenue and the Farnsworth House, an almost entirely transparent, one-story house in Illinois reminiscent of the demolished Barcelona Pavilion.

The Farnsworth House in Plano, IL. Photograph by David Wilson.

The Farnsworth House in Plano, IL. Photograph by David Wilson.

Inspired? Get Involved

In Mies’ view, a building should be “a clear and true statement of its times.” While times have changed since Mies made that remark, the next iconic architect who will help shape the industry could be among today’s architecture, urban planning, and landscape design students. If you’re a student, make sure you ask your professor to register your school for the YTAA, which provides students opportunities to build their careers and earn a cash prize. Learn more about the award.

And know that at Vectorworks, we keep visionaries like Mies in mind while developing software to ensure we provide designers with an intuitive solution for comprehensive architectural expression. Learn more about how designers are realizing their visions with Vectorworks software on our Case Studies page.

Your projects will be picture-perfect after this month’s Tech Roundup focusing on CameraMatch, a plug-in that allows you to easily align your 3D models in Vectorworks software with photographs.

But before we dive into using CameraMatch, first check out these two videos to learn how to install the plug-in and add it to your workspace on Windows or Mac.

The successful use of CameraMatch relies on taking and selecting photos that work best with the plug-in. So don’t skip this video as it explains why you should break architecture photography’s cardinal rule of straightening your verticals.

It’s time to get started with the plug-in. Step number one: positioning your CameraMatch reference.

The following video will take you through the basics of placing CameraMatch objects and preview objects.

Now that you have your object set up, you’ll need to fine-tune it to match your view. Learn how to adjust your vanishing points and fix any errors in scale to achieve the match you need.

Once you have your object in its proper position, it’s time to render. In the next few minutes of this series, you’ll discover how to show new geometry and render objects in your view.

To put the final touches on your rendering, explore the tools for masking, cloning, and adding shadows.

If you didn’t follow the rules in the first video — and you picked a photo with a pair of near parallel control lines – fear not. This last video covers an easy solution for matching those tough views.

If you have any questions, reach out to us at or tweet us at our account @VectorworksHelp.