Blog / Cover Story

2018 Vectorworks Design Summit Field Report

Caption: Opening night Expo Happy Hour featured Vectorworks staff showcasing Vectorworks Landmark, Architect, and Spotlight, plus related vendors like Bluebeam and Canon. Photo: Jason Dixson Photography

The 4th annual Vectorworks Design Summit held on November 4-6, 2018 in Arizona convened about six hundred landscape, architecture, lighting, and exhibition design professionals plus Vectorworks staff from North America, the United Kingdom, and beyond. Attendees had a chance to talk shop, network, and yes, party, at the luscious Sheraton at Wild Horse Pass, situated on 50 acres south of Phoenix backing up to the Sonoran Desert National Monument. The venue, which highlights native American culture, features a designed landscape including a 2.5 mile replica of the nearby Gila River (pronounced, “heela”) which serves as the spine along which all buildings and recreational amenities are arranged. Experiencing this landscape, designed by the firm WATG was an added benefit for landscape architects in attendance.

Vectorworks Landmark at the Design Summit

Think of the Vectorworks Design Summit as a gathering of folks who drive the same kind of high performance sports car and may speak freely without feeling self-conscious about things like improving workflows, aspects of the new plant database tool, increasing BIM capabilities. Free of the constraints that accompany most local gatherings of design professionals in the same field, at the Design Summit you can not only “let your geek flag fly,” you can openly compare strategies on how to use Vectorworks Landmark for a competitive advantage in the marketplace, a valuable and somewhat rare professional opportunity.

At the Design Summit, landscape architects and designers using Vectorworks Landmark can meet architects who use Vectorworks Architect in a relaxed setting conducive to forming business collaborations. This year in Phoenix, Vectorworks staff facilitated these connections by implementing a small and successful design move –badge lanyards color coded by industry. Meeting other landscape professionals and architects at meals and during breaks was much easier and more fun with this simple visual identifier.

Design Summit breakout session classrooms are outfitted with laptops and sample files so attendees may follow along. Photo: Jason Dixson Photography

Design Summit breakout session classrooms are outfitted with laptops and sample files so attendees may follow along. Photo: Jason Dixson Photography

Some 2019 Vectorworks Landmark Innovations

While Vectorworks has a well-deserved reputation for beautiful graphics, the Landmark module when used to advantage is a powerful 3D modeling tool which in recent years has made its terrain modeling capabilities more powerful and intuitive. For example, in Vectorworks Landmark 2019, hardscape layers (think: permeable pavers, setting bed, sub-base) may be graphically represented and manipulated individually, and included in itemized volumetric calculations displayed on automatically generated worksheets. Further, worksheets will automatically update as drawings are modified. Anyone who has drawn bio-retention sections and performed Stormwater calculations for compliance with municipal regulations will understand what a breakthrough improvement this is.

In 2018, Vectorworks Landmark introduced the capability of manipulating individual topo lines with its Reshape tool. This year, that intuitive feature was joined by a new tool with which users can model topography by delineating shapes and pushing or pulling the terrain up or down. This will make preliminary grading studies and client presentations much faster and graphically legible.

Landmark staff had workstations set up in the conference Expo area where attendees could try out new tools, and describe tools they would like to see in the future. It was clear that upper management had directed all Vectorworks staff to solicit user input at every opportunity during the Summit. “What is your wish for a new or improved tool?” attendees were frequently asked. Responses were immediately written down, so clearly this was important to management and staff. In fact, an annual staff Innovation Week soon follows the Summit, during which programmers’ schedules are freed up to start building solutions to users’ wish list items shared at the Summit. This is what a learning organization looks like. It was good to see how Vectorworks users were seriously regarded as partners.

Dancing, games, great food, and awesome fireworks made for a memorable 2018 Vectorworks Design Summit party. Photo: Jason Dixson Photography

Dancing, games, great food, and awesome fireworks made for a memorable 2018 Vectorworks Design Summit party. Photo: Jason Dixson Photography

Other Summit Highlights

Breakout sessions at the Summit were generously long, and classrooms were set up with rows of laptops on which participants could follow along with sample files, which helps reinforce learning. The event offered CEUs for folks needing those hours. Jonathan Morse, owner of North Shore Garden Design on Vashon Island, Washington said, “My biggest takeaway this year is that I can make better use of worksheets. They’re so powerful and can save so much time.”

“Geek Meet Appointments” were available, where users could explore software issues one-on-one with technical support staff. Dallas landscape designer Melissa Gerstle said, “That was one of the best things about the Summit for me. I finally learned how to handle an issue that’s been tripping me up.”

After the first full day at the Summit, Vectorworks pulled out all the stops for a lovely party under the stars with all kinds of food and drink, music and dancing, games, multiple fire pits with the makings for S’mores, a dress-up photo booth and more. A magical choreographed fireworks display capped off the evening.

The location of the 2019 Vectorworks Design Summit and a call for presenters will be announced in early spring.


Lead Image: Opening night Expo Happy Hour featured Vectorworks staff showcasing Vectorworks Landmark, Architect, and Spotlight, plus related vendors like Bluebeam and Canon. Photo: Jason Dixson Photography

Published in Blog, Cover Story
Cheryl Corson is a landscape architect, writer and teacher in private practice. She is author of the award-winning Sustainable Landscape Maintenance Manual for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Cheryl leads the Vectorworks Landmark Mid-Atlantic User Group. See www.cherylcorson.com

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