VectorWorks Architect 12 Breaks New Ground

About this Issue….

Welcome to AECWeekly! Live sections and updated architectural objects are just some of the enhancements in the latest version of VectorWorks Architect from Nemetschek. Read about that product in this week's Industry News.

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Industry News
VectorWorks Architect 12 Breaks New Ground
By Susan Smith

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This shows off the new window object which is part of Architect's new intelligent building objects.
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This week I spoke with Dan Monaghan, Director of Marketing and Sean Flaherty, CEO of Nemetschek North America, about the latest version of VectorWorks Architect, version 12. For a full list of the improvements in Architect 12 you can visit the website, however, here is the lowdown on some of the more important improvements in the product that users asked specifically for:

1) The addition of live sections. “A building section is typically a drawing that an architectural builder has to create. Creating these sectional drawings is currently a very manual process in most CAD applications,” said Monaghan. “With live sections we now can cut a section through a three dimensional model of a building and then we can view that section drawing and begin to embellish it to create that section drawing. That section view of the model is live, so if you move a wall in 2D or in 3D or you replace a wall with a different type of wall, then all those changes will be reflected in a section view. In addition to creating section views and section drawings, it's very easy now to create interior elevation which is a common drawing that architects have to create. This was one of our top wish list items.”

2) Updated all architectural building objects. “We updated and improved the intelligent building objects that shipped with Architect 12,” said Flaherty. “We improved walls, stairs, doors, windows and cabinets, to name a few. The overall improvement is that they're much easier to use and more configurable.”

Some of the improvements made to walls included making the creation of compound or cavity walls much easier. Architect 12 also makes it easier to manage libraries of wall types. Most importantly, Nemetschek added the ability to replace one wall type with another wall type and to have that replacement be intelligent, so as you swap one wall style with another wall style they are automatically aligned correctly. “So if you go from a 10 inch foundation wall to a 12 inch foundation wall it'll know, based on your input, whether to stick in the walls from the inside or the outside of the centerline,” explained Flaherty. “The objects have intelligence, and will rejoin everything at the end. Intelligent wall replacement gives you much more control over how the walls are replaced and will automatically align them correctly.”

In the previous release, walls only supported centerline replacement. It did that intelligently, “but the problem we heard from designers was, a lot of times they kept the structural part of the walls in the same place, but they might change the installation or the facade material and they wanted the structural part to all stay the same,” Flaherty pointed out.

For walls, stairs and doors, Version 12 has graphical dialogues that allow you to preview the changes that are being made to the object. In the previous release, the dialogues were very text heavy and didn't allow for a preview any of the changes. The object itself was the preview and now you can actually preview your changes in the dialog.

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This is an example of the new human form found in VectorWorks Architect which can be used as scale references to round out drawings.
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Stairs have been improved in three different ways:
1) Stairs are now made up of flight platforms and these different configurations of flights and platforms can be combined and reconstituted to create a wide variety of configurations that were impossible to recreate in other versions or even in other software programs.

2) The view on the bottom story and the view on the top story can be linked together. If you have a two story house, for example, the first floor view of the stair in PlanView and the second story view in PlanView are now linked together. Previous software was limited in that in placing the stair on the first floor you would then have to go back and draw the second view of the stairs, so one view would show the stairs pointing up with a break and the second story view would show the stairs with a break, yet the views are different. The advantage of the stair tool is that these now can be coordinated, so a change on one level will affect the view on the second level.

3) Now designers can also move the stair both on the first floor and the second floor simultaneously. There is also much more control over the handrail in the version 12 release.

Doors and windows, like stairs, have graphical previews to make it easier to configure them. They both have many more options so they remove a lot of the limitations that doors and windows in version 11 have and allow designers to create many more types of doors and windows. There are so many different types of windows for the U.S., Europe and Asia, said Flaherty, and more interest in European windows that are built to a higher energy standard because of high energy prices. Doublehung windows with different sized sashes, common in some areas like New England, are also possible.

Third party libraries and additional file format support

Nemetschek is a founding member of the Open Design Alliance, an organization responsible for providing alternative open design software libraries for those users of DWG and other file formats that enable them to exchange files. Nemetschek has a full time engineering staff that works on nothing but DXF and DWG translations. “VectorWorks Architect 12 is definitely the most compatible version to date, with some big improvements made to our translation,” commented Flaherty.

3ds is another file format that VectorWorks supports, which is a common file format for many 3D modeling and rendering applications. VectorWorks users will find it easier to share models with designers using Viz and 3D Max. Designers access hundreds of 3D modeling libraries that are available on the internet, so now VectorWorks users can go to these sites and download sometimes free content to use in their models. The 3ds file format is great for finding the one off models that you need to put into your design.

In addition, a high end furniture library is shipping free with VectorWorks Architect, so the new furniture library is from Knoll studios, a company that produces a line of high end modern furniture from designers like Geary. “It will allow architects to add a new level of sophistication to their newly rendered scenes. That's free in VectorWorks Architect 12.”

VectorWorks Product Line Up

The VectorWorks product line (although there is no one product called “VectorWorks” anymore) is comprised of Architect, Landmark and Designer. According to Flaherty, Designer is the culmination of all their products, containing all the functionality all the Design Series products (Architect, Landmark, Spotlight and Machine Design). Designer is good for those professionals who design both landscape and buildings. For both Architect and Landmark the interface has been dramatically improved -- not only is it much faster but more robust and is easier to use. Landmark is for landscape and site designers while Architect is for commercial and residential design.

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