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Features List 13
From CAD User AEC Magazine Vol 23 No 11 - NOV/DECEMBER 2010
Vectorworks 2011 continues to provide a total design solution for SME Architects, from modelling the site to rendering the 3D model
Vectorworks is a multidiscipline CAD tool. It's a 3D design package that architects can use from conception to completion; from laying out the siteplan to rendering the final result to create photorealistic images of designs using the latest rendering engine from Cinema 4D. It's a BIM tool for building designers and, showing its roots, a flexible parametric tool for product designers as well.
The latest version, Vectorworks 2011, comes with many new features. It's a breakthrough version, according to Vectorworks, that addresses many of the requests that come from its end users. As it covers so much ground, I will just look at the most important or interesting new features and enhancements here.
The first of these is all about enhancing the 3D environment, curiously by enabling users to draw 2D shapes on any plane whilst in a 3D view, and to continue working on it as a 2D object, but with all its attributes in place. Imagine a curved roof section on which you can design openings for roof lights, louvers and so on.
This can work in conjunction with the Push/Pull tool, a direct modelling tool used to edit solid faces and planar objects by selecting, and pushing or pulling the face -with instant results. Selecting the face in question has been made simpler as well, thanks to the 3D Power Pack tools, which give a clearer indication of which face is being selected.
Vectorworks 2011 has new settings for the Snap tool, a boon for someone like me as I am constantly evaluating new software releases and coming up against unfamiliar snapping constraints (I know they’re not constraints really and are actually designed to help!) Now these can be temporarily suspended or disabled to allows users to complete operations hindered by the feature.
Primarily an architectural tool, Vectorworks brings a number of enhancements to those working in a BIM environment, such as facility managers. One such tool improves the creation of Space Objects - modelling intelligent BIM/IFC compatible spaces with just one click - after setting up wall boundaries and so on, of course - using industry compliant boundary definitions. Once created, boundary properties can be easily transferred from one space to another to speed up the creation of intelligent spaces. These can be further enhanced using auto-numbering, space attributes, labelling and occupancy definitions.
New Slab Tool and 3D Wall Components
Using BIM-compliant slabs with bounding walls, users can create slabs with all of the correct wall-floor intersections, which can be displayed in both 3D and cross-section views. Individual slab components can also be designed to penetrate the walls to make proper connections. This means that, as with space objects, you can create slabs with a single click using a set of walls as a polyline, including its projections, cut-outs and depressions, and incorporate them in the slab. You can also save them as slab styles for later use.
Wall modelling is also vastly improved, enabling users to create more realistic section views with textured wall components. These reflect actual designs, and can be offset from the wall themselves, or they can be designed to have varying heights. Wall end caps allow standard and custom component wrapping for ends of walls.
Stairs always seem ripe for improvement in just about every software package’s update. I am continually surprised that there can be so many variants, and that there is always something else that can be added to improve on their design. The Vectorworks stair interface has been redesigned and introduces new features besides the general enhancements to dialogue boxes, centralising graphical attributes and standardising naming features.
You can now handle straight stairs with multiple landings, and flights and landings with different widths. There are also stair text improvements, fixed angle winder configurations and stair railing enhancements. Irregular roofs are also always ripe for causing problems, and so Vectorworks has also introduced a Connect/Combine tool that allows architects to trim, or extend a roof face to enable it to connect to another roof face.
As an example of the level of detail that Vectorworks goes into - how good are you at laying out tiling patterns? The new version gives you the opportunity to do a bit of virtual tiling on your bathroom walls too!
Adding accurate site models to plans is a major feature of Vectorworks, and now its been made even easier to use. You can start off by positioning stake objects from 3D point data to create an initial site model, with Landmark parameters enabling them to be used as modifiers by the site model. The shape of the site can be displayed using coloured contour lines, and the addition of a new Grade Tool creates a parametric grade object to annotate terrain slopes on site plan documents. Networking these together shows slope characteristics across the surface of the plan. It’s also quite easy to superimpose aerial images on to the site plan for additional effect.
Architectural walls can be used as retaining wall site modifiers, assisting in the calculation of cut-and-fill, and enabling architects to sculpt the terrain around a wall. The new Create Stepped wall command enables the creation of stepped walls configured to reflect the underlying terrain. Add to that the ability to document existing trees before construction, and you have the ideal solution for laying out terrain on a building site - and for creating attractive presentations for clients.
It's not just about effect either, as the Landmark data can be used to provide verifiable cut and fill calculations and materials and costings worksheets for any work on the site plan, to create paved and other hardscape areas.
In the Spotlight
I remember looking at an interesting case study some years back, where an architectural package was used for stage design and lighting. Spotlight serves the same purpose in Vectorworks 2011, but in a much better way.
Spotlight enables stage designers to design lighting, scenery and sets for theatrical productions, as well as corporate events and exhibitions. It provides options to lay out seating and improved focus point support, allowing users to focus light exactly where they need it. It doesn't just deal with the lights, either but with everything associated with them: light sources, accessories, 3D geometry and beams - all pointing towards the desired focal point - even for virtual representation created in designer layer viewports.
Users can even set up lighting designs in plan view and then render the model in 3D. The information can also be shared with other models, using Lightwright data exchange, i.e. incorporating lights created by Lightwright within a 3D model with other lights. The Seating Layout tool allows seat plans to be created showing seating section names, seating counts and seating numbering, assisted by the latest update in the software, the Create Event seating command, which has access to a seating layout defaults library.
Rendering in Vectorworks 2011 just got heaps better with the integration of the latest version of Cinema 4D. This uses an upgraded render engine, camera views in camera ports, and improved texture mapping. Cinema 4D is a 64bit rendering engine, with a hefty increase in speed and quality. It now comes with simpler, more intuitive controls and render speeds up to 5 times faster than Vectorworks 2010’s indirect lighting, and allows users to handle direct texture editing in the viewport.
Simplified File Exchange
Enabling architects to share designs with colleagues requires extended file sharing support and a reduction in file sizes to speed up file sharing over the Internet. Accordingly, Vectorworks 2011 significantly reduces DXF/DWG files. It also boasts improved file sharing with better support of hatches, importing DXF/DWG hatches with different scales and angles as single Vectorworks hatches. The export of Planar Objects has also been improved, so that they can be displayed properly when exported, i.e. in Top view, with the DXF/DWF_G view changing to match Vectorworks original views.
All in all, the new release represents a significant upgrade from Vectorworks 2010.
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