Design is all about finding unique solutions. So, how do you stand out in a world where uniformity is rewarded? Join the online, interactive discussion that will connect the dots between vision and reality in The Business of Creativity Google+ Hangout on Air October 9, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. EDT. This hour-long discussion, led by Steve Alden, AIA, architect at Nemetschek Vectorworks, will define what it means to be visionary and how flexible workflows help designers discover new ways to imagine and construct their projects. From small firms to large, the panel of practitioners will share details about their creative workflows and perspectives on the future of technology.


“Great design begins with ideas that run against the grain, shake the status quo, and lead to unexpected and inspiring solutions,” said Steve Alden, AIA, architect at Nemetschek Vectorworks. “But it takes a keen awareness of emerging market trends and an ability to steer one’s creative workflows and perspectives in just the right way to improve and transform the world. The Business of Creativity will address these topics and more, sharing what some of today’s award-winning designers and industry professionals think about the future of technology and design, as well as how they stay ahead of the competition.”

Panelists include Todd McCurdy, FASLA vice president, director of landscape architecture + planning at Morris Architects, Inc.; Aurora Meneghello, marketing and social media manager at Novedge; Michael Klaers, lighting designer at The Small Group; Ron Kwaske, architect at Office Ron Kwaske, Architect; and Rob Glisson, AIA, principle and architect at Rojo Architecture.

“The hangout will be a forum to stimulate ideas that should, in turn, lead to best practices that we can then implement, so I am excited to have the opportunity to be an active participant in such a dialogue,” said Kwaske. “By contributing as a panelist, I can open up that dialogue with my colleagues during the event, and hopefully with members of the audience during the Q&A session, so we can all learn and advance our understanding and use of technology in our firms.”

Viewers are encouraged to ask questions and engage with panelists by posting their questions to Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ using #DiscussDesign. To register for The Business of Creativity discussion, please visit

By Kevin Lee Allen, Scenic & Lighting Designer, KLAD

I’ve been beta testing Vectorworks 2015 since the spring, and it’s so feature-rich that I can’t decide on a favorite. Many enhancements have become integral to my workflow, and I can’t remember life without them. For example, I do a lot of modeling and rendering. The 64-bit speed of Vectorworks 2015 has seriously cut back on my time for coffee. I no longer remember what was like to work in 32-bit mode anymore than I remember what it was like to work on my Mac Quadra 800. However, I do know that I can produce great work in less time than it takes to get that cup of coffee.

Kevin’s client commissioned this design, which literally is a set for a meeting, to impress a potential celebrity partner.

Renderworksartistic edge effects can stylize renderings, offering a realistic, hand-drawn overlay to a normally more photographic rendering. Artists and designers can customize these looks to their taste or to reflect a style developed over many years. The artistic edges feature can also humanize a rendering, giving clients and collaborators the sense that the design is a work in progress to which they might contribute. Often, a photographic rendering can appear too finished for clients to sign on to the design. It’s psychological, but clients need to take ownership. Artistic edges therefore help designers sell their ideas.

Another feature I love is the new 3D Hatching for Hidden Line Rendering. Texture definitions can now automatically include hatches showing, for example, a brick hatch on a 2D elevation of a brick wall. This is just one more way to clearly communicate design ideas.

Kevin’s rendering portrays a fantasy fashion environment.

Before rendering, the new Deform tool can create objects that will cause carpenters, sculptors, and welders to seriously hate you. The Deform tool includes the Twist Solid tool, which was introduced in 2014 as a tool mode. Additionally, the tool will twist the face, taper, bulge, and bend 3D solid objects. This is fast, easy, and very cool.

Designers in the entertainment field will appreciate new stage objects in Vectorworks Spotlight that are incredible for creating camera platforms at fashion shows, concerts, meetings, houses of worship, and special events. These tools can maintain a database of inventory. Soft goods, speaker objects, and video/television/LED screens received improvements, too, and the Stage Lift object has been added.

Those of us who also design lighting feel some love from the folks at Nemetschek Vectorworks with this release. Lighting positions no longer have to be saved as symbols, and the geometry of a lighting position can now be directly edited. Plus, the new Curtain Wall tools in the Designer and Architect packages allow for the rapid creation of event spaces, theatre spaces, and/or sets.

Last, but certainly not least, I cannot live without the new Vectorworks Remote App that connects mobile devices to Vectorworks. The app lets you view, navigate, and present your designs without having to be at your desktop. It is also terrific for navigating while designing.

Have fun exploring these and all the new features in Vectorworks 2015 at

When a community of quirky, mischievous creatures hits the big screen in the nationwide US opening of The Boxtrolls this weekend, you’ll have Oregon-based LAIKA to thank. Known for its Academy Award-nominated films ParaNorman and Coraline, the animation studio has created a stop-motion, hand-drawn, and computer-generated movie in which young people discover who they are and what they want to be, learning that the things that define us most are the choices we make and the people we touch.

Based on Alan Snow’s book Here Be Monsters, and created with 79 sets and over 20,000 handmade props, The Boxtrolls is the biggest production ever made in stop-motion animation. “I love the medium, and this art form, because it combines so many artistically wonderful elements: illustration, painting, photography, lighting, sculpting, and music,” says Lead Animator and Producer Travis Knight.

Joining a star-studded cast of voice talent including Sir Ben Kingsley, Isaac Hempstead Wright, and Elle Fanning, Vectorworks software plays a role in the film, too. Set designers used the program to construct 3D models and develop them into construction plans.

A stop-motion feature is comparable to a live-action feature in that there are physical sets that must be built and dressed, as well as performers who need to be properly coiffed, clothed, and lit – and given proper direction. Art Director Curt Enderle says, “Set designers work from 2D illustrations and develop scale and style within Vectorworks to generate drawings for the construction shops — just like the real world, only smaller, about one-sixth of human size.”

“We aspire to tell stories that are visually stunning, that have a patina of beauty, but more importantly have a reservoir of meaning,” adds Knight. “Our films are thought-provoking, keenly felt, progressive, and just a wee bit subversive. We tell stories that speak to us, and that we hope connect in the same way with audiences all over the world.”

We’re currently developing a case study with the artisans at LAIKA and have no doubt that we’ll all feel wonderfully connected with The Boxtrolls as we discover the magic behind the studio’s success and how Vectorworks software supports their creative endeavors. Stay tuned, and we’ll see you at the movies!

Vectorworks users often design with people in mind. But the Swiss architecture firm of Markus Schietsch Architekten recently completed a project whose end users have four legs instead of two. The result is the Kaeng Krachan Elephant House at the Zürich Zoo in Switzerland, named after the Thai national park that is the native habitat of the six elephants it houses.

The design draws inspiration from structures in the natural world, creating a symbiotic relationship between architecture and the landscape. The 5,400-square-meter space is also six times bigger than what the elephants had previously.

A characteristic element of the new house is its striking wooden roof, which blends into the landscape as a shallow, freeform shell-structure. The roof dissolves into a transparent, mazelike structure that establishes an organic relationship with the surrounding forest. On the interior, the roof unfolds its atmospheric effect — as if through a canopy of trees, the sunlight filters through the intricate roof structure in constantly changing ways.

The new design permits animals to wander through a series of indoor and outdoor enclosures, including areas of open plains, vegetated niches, and pools and showers, giving them the chance to socialize and interact with each other as they would in the wild. Visitors get to see these connections up close as they weave seamlessly through the elephants’ environment on trails that are carefully hidden in the vegetation. There is even an underwater viewing area that lets visitors watch the elephants swim.

The elephants’ caretakers also benefit from the building’s design, which utilizes the principle of protected contact and keeps workers separate from the elephants for routine activities like feeding. The design helps to ensure the keepers’ safety, as well as give the elephants more freedom to develop a natural, social structure without human intervention.

A final design component was to integrate sustainable elements. The main building material is wood, and the facility’s heat is provided by a central woodchip heating system. The roof collects rainwater that is used to irrigate plants, moisten sandy ground surfaces, and keep the elephants’ pools full. Also, a specialized event control system, combined with natural ventilation, prevents the air-conditioning system in the inner compound from using more energy than necessary.

Firms like Markus Schietsch Architekten use Vectorworks software to make the world a better place every day, both for people and elephants! Read how other designers user our product on our Success Stories webpage.

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

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

No Constraints and Fast

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

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

Fluid Power to Manipulate

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

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

Moving Forward

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

By Stewart Green, Associate Director at DP Architects

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

Rendering and 3D Design Capabilities

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

Intuitive Design Workflow

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

BIM Capabilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Check out some additional features included in the new release:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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