Hundreds of design professionals were anticipating the 2020 Vectorworks Design Summit in San Diego this April when a certain virus changed our plans. As a nimble tech company, Vectorworks quickly moved the event online, where it is available to anyone on-demand, this year at no cost.
Vectorworks CEO Dr. Biplab Sarkar delivered the keynote address, and despite the subdued production compared to typically showy Vectorworks stagecraft, he covered a lot in a short time, including how the company is helping design professionals during the pandemic, exciting new software developments of interest to Vectorworks Landmark users, and where things are headed in the near future. To date, over 1,300 people have watched Dr. Sarkar’s online keynote, far more than would have been able to see it in the San Diego venue.
Vectorworks Responds to the Pandemic
In an online interview with Dr. Sarkar, we discussed how Vectorworks users are being affected. “While the entertainment community has been affected the most, there is a mixed impact on the landscape community,” he said. “Design/Build firms are mixed because many are considered essential, though we are well aware that some designers have been laid off.”
To help firms and individual designers, Vectorworks is extending payment terms, eliminating reinstatement fees for lapsed maintenance agreements, and importantly, offering free online training through June 30 to anyone, whether they hold Vectorworks licenses or not. Since the March quarantines began, over 8,500 customers have registered for the free virtual trainings. For anyone with extra time, it can be a stress-buster to learn new skills, and concentrating on Vectorworks is one way to keep one’s mind off other less pleasant things. To learn more about how Vectorworks is responding to the pandemic, see their blog.
Working Remotely for Individuals and Teams
Now is a good time to become familiar with Vectorworks’ multi-user environment, Project Sharing. Project Sharing lets multiple people work concurrently on the same file through a system of layer or object check-out and synchronization of changes. What’s more is that the shared project file can be stored and accessed in popular cloud-based file sharing services such as Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive.
Vectorworks Cloud Services can also help facilitate collaboration with your clients and is available at no cost to users. The Vectorworks Nomad app allows designers to access their models and PDFs on any mobile device. Available for iOS and Android, the app makes it possible to view and navigate 3D renderings, share files with clients or collaborators, and mark up PDF files to save to cloud libraries. The app is available to anyone, although an expanded feature set is exclusive to Vectorworks Service Select members. Also, you can create virtual walkthroughs and presentations to share with your clients, who are then able to comment online. “We are finding that the current situation is encouraging creativity in our users,” says Sarkar. More on Vectorworks Cloud Services may be found here.
Partnership with ESRI for GIS Integration
A new Geographic Information Systems (GIS) toolset was introduced in Vectorworks 2020, as well as a partnership with Esri. Now, drawings can be geolocated so that the point of origin is easily within the drawing area. You may select from a number of mapping coordinate systems, to match the data used in external files you may need to import, or you may search by address and import mapping or satellite data onto a design layer or also directly onto a digital terrain model, and have the latitude and longitude automatically populated into the drawing. This makes tools like the Heliodon tool faster to use. It also means that you may easily scale from aerial photos because they are imported at the correct drawing scale right from the start. For site layout, the GIS toolset offers a new stake tool that provides exact latitude and longitude coordinates for any drawing objects, such as trees or retaining walls, saving you and installers time in the field. In the future Vectorworks and Esri hope to offer the ability to also import terrain data. “We are working on that next,” says Dr. Sarkar.
Files as Databases Using BIM Technology in Vectorworks Landmark
Every year, Vectorworks Landmark BIM capabilities have expanded. With the 2020 Landmark release, some new tools such as the Hardscape Alignment tool were introduced. This tool aligns to the elevations of other site elements — such as building floors, other hardscapes, roads, and site modifying objects — to see the hardscape better conform to varying elevational points with the modeled site. If you have ever had issues with your walkway floating over your terrain model (as I have), you will appreciate this new tool. Calculating hardscape volumes is much simpler now, since slab components may be specified, and easily modified, by material and thickness from a single control panel. Designers may place worksheets directly on drawings showing their BIM calculations, which helps with project submissions for client entities requiring BIM, such as the State of California’s Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance, or MWELO.
Says Sarkar, “With BIM, files are getting larger and larger, so we are working to improve navigation and display of large complex models. Vectorworks Graphics Module (VGM) splits the computation necessary to present the graphics into all available cores of the user’s machine. The user can continue to work and navigate in the design without delay or interruption, as these graphical computations are completed in the background and then merged into the current workflow.”
Since BIM project delivery for landscape projects is becoming more and more common, Vectorworks is dedicated to providing a purpose-built BIM tool for landscape architects. To find out how you and your firm can make the strategic move to BIM workflows, see this BIM adoption guide.
For a beautiful example of how extraordinary landscapes may be integrated with building and other design professionals with Vectorworks Landmark, see PWP Partners’ Jewel Changi Airport interior gardens in Singapore.
Before we may fully return to our offices and construction sites, now is a great time to take advantage of 32 hours of free Core and Intermediate Concepts training in Vectorworks University. It may enliven your portfolio and help you and your employers be more competitive in the marketplace that will surely be changed in the coming years. Sign up today here.
Cheryl Corson is a landscape architect, certified playground safety inspector, and health & wellness coach practicing in the Mid-Atlantic area. She has been a Vectorworks Landmark user since 2009. www.cherylcorson.com.Published in