Users can select an entire curtainwall system with a single click.
Nemetschek Vectorworks Users can select an entire curtainwall system with a single click.

Last week, Nemetschek Vectorworks announced its 2015 line of products, which includes Vectorworks Designer, Architect, Landmark, Spotlight, Fundamentals, and Renderworks. According to Nemetschek, Vectorworks 2015 has more than 100 new enhancements and features from the 2014 version. Now with 64-bit capabilities at its core, the platform has greater capacity to handle the increasing amount of detail and data we expect from a BIM tool.

Nemetschek gave me a one-on-one demo and advanced preview of Vectorworks Architect with Renderworks, a package of BIM and visualization tools, to test drive. As a user of several design and BIM-authoring tools, I highlighted the features that I found most useful for novice and experienced users of the software.

Simplified Wall Construction
It would be challenging to design buildings without walls, and a lot of them. Previous Vectorworks versions required users to place walls in the model one segment at a time. No longer is this the case. A new rectangle wall mode allows users to create a building layout with two clicks. The tool has enough smarts to prevent overlapping walls with an automatic trim feature. Pressing the Alt/Option key aids in the creation of L-shaped rooms. All the wall joints heal automatically, as they do in other manufacturers’ BIM programs.

Placing walls while pressing the Alt/Option key results in L-shaped configurations. The overlapping walls will be trimmed automatically.
Sean David Burke Placing walls while pressing the Alt/Option key results in L-shaped configurations. The overlapping walls will be trimmed automatically.

Wall materials are now easier to clean up at intersecting floor plates, allowing users to have fine control over how the wall-and-floor connections look in section view, without having to bind those material extensions to the floor levels manually.

Perhaps the heaviest revamp in terms of wall modeling is in the creation of curtainwall and storefront systems. Users can add curtainwall elements by picking the wall tool and selecting or modifying a wall style; several templates, labeled with the prefix “CW,” are provided. Users can create, store, and reuse their own systems in a library for sharing and reuse with other projects. Editing mullions and panels has become dead simple; users can create complex patterns, add doors as a panel, and even insert angled mullions.

Curtainwalls can be placed in the model using the Wall tool and selecting one of the preset CW wall templates or defining a custom assembly.
Sean David Burke Curtainwalls can be placed in the model using the Wall tool and selecting one of the preset CW wall templates or defining a custom assembly.

Sharper Presentations
All of the Vectorworks platform products (Fundamentals, Architect and Spotlight) now include the View Transition Animation tool for creating client presentations. This feature is enabled by default and can be modified in the Preferences > Interactive panel. The result is similar to traditional cell animation where you first set the key frames by selecting a saved or standard view, and as you change to another view, the software automatically fills in the frames between views. Moving from one view to the next proved smooth in my experiments with a relatively detailed model.

To its already extensive Graphic Module system, which enables applying different artistic styles to viewports, Vectorworks 2015 along with the Renderworks module now can remove texture and color from 3D elements. Renderings can emulate white museum board models while maintaining the transparency of materials such as glazing. Users can also add artistic edges to renderings and hatch 3D surfaces with textures to match existing patterns; for example, users can replace a brick pattern hatch with its photorealistic equivalent so that the documents’material patterns and rendered images align. Additionally, color gradients can now fade to zero opacity in illustrations so users don’t need to open an external image editor for post processing.

Surface hatch patterns and the associated material texture can be adjusted in orientation and size to product more realistic renderings.
Nemetschek Vectorworks Surface hatch patterns and the associated material texture can be adjusted in orientation and size to product more realistic renderings.

With the added opacity controls, Renderworks enables smoother gradient fills.
Nemetschek Vectorworks With the added opacity controls, Renderworks enables smoother gradient fills.

Organic Forms
For those who wish to create complex geometry with ease, you will appreciate that the Vectorworks Architect’s former Twist tool has gained new capabilities. Now called Deform Mode, the tool maintains its twist functionality but adds taper, bulge, and bend modes for editing solids. Entire elements, such as the lofted elements shown in the image, or a portion of the pieces defined at a point along a user-defined axis can be deformed, creating sculptural forms. This tool can be used to create curved structural elements, custom furniture or casework, or even an entire façade.

The Deform tool can bend solid geometries into user-defined shapes.
Nemetschek Vectorworks The Deform tool can bend solid geometries into user-defined shapes.

Cloud Capabilities
With its 2015 release, Nemetschek also expands its cloud and mobile capabilities. Version 3.0 of Vectorworks Cloud Services, which offers access to one’s design data anywhere with an Internet connection, is being released simultaneously with an updated app. Vectorworks Nomad, the model viewer available for iOS and Android, provides a much improved user experience for downloading. No longer limited to 2D, Nomad has the capability of not only viewing the model in 3D with textures on a mobile device, but also the video game–style walkthroughs and flyover modes familiar to current desktop users.

Nemetschek also has a new app, Vectorworks Remote, that allows users to present building models stored on a desktop using their iPad or iPhone as an updated television remote.

Overall, with these updates and others, the Vectorworks 2015 suite should give designers a more efficient and fun experience.

Vectorworks 2015 Overview
Compatibility: Windows and Mac OS X. Price: $3,145 for Vectorworks Architect with Renderworks; upgrades start at $908 for existing users. Vectorworks Service Select, which provides access to upgrades and cloud services, is additional. vectorworks2015.net