Vectorworks Case Study: BPR Architects

Vectorworks Case Study

Working in BIM enables bpr architects to create world class buildings for Middlesex University

View the original case study by CADUSER

For bpr architects, BIM Level 2 is becoming business as usual. This medium-sized, employee-owned firm based in the UK focuses on how good design can add value to a client’s vision. Led by Directors Paul Beaty-Pownall and Steve Cowell, the firm specialises in three core sectors: higher education, rail stations, and regeneration. In response to the UK government mandate for the use of 3D BIM on all public projects by 2016, bpr moved quickly to keep pace with the requirements. As part of its compliance strategy, bpr began using Vectorworks software almost exclusively to maintain consistency across projects.

“We took advantage of the UK’s regulatory regimes to move to BIM. In 2013 we changed our working practices and workflow so projects are drawn in 3D from conception. I decided that all future work will be in 3D, and we will make better use of models that can produce information more efficiently.” – Paul Beaty-Pownall

With this framework in place, bpr implemented BIM Level 2 standards into its workflow with teams combining design information with their models to create a federated BIM model. The team selected a pilot project for this task: the Ritterman Building, a five-storey teaching space for long-standing client, Middlesex University.

“As a designer you are always looking for opportunities where you can add value through good design, not just for the betterment of the project, but for the betterment of the environment around that project – strategic solutions that benefit the wider estate.” said Beaty-Pownall.

Such was the case when working with Middlesex University. A client for more than 12 years, the university trusted that bpr had a solid understanding of its needs and how to accomplish them through good design.

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Several challenges arose when bpr started working on the Ritterman Building design. First, the building would be constructed on a vacant part of campus composed of a steep, grassy bank. The building also needed to be adaptable to meet continually changing teaching, accessibility, and sustainability requirements, both immediate and for the future.

“We worked closely with the structural engineer to consider how that might be done, such as how to refurbish the building later on down the line,” said Lizzie Dodwell, an architect at bpr. “It made more sense to design within that problem to give us that flexibility in the future.”

For the Ritterman Building, bpr designed flexibility into the structure, such as opening up double-height space that could be modified at a later time by adding floors to create modular teaching spaces. Throughout the decision-making process, the firm also took the university’s long-term goals into account.

“The pedagogic needs of the university’s vision and operational requirements for the future is something we don’t know at this stage,” said Dodwell. “By being more flexible in our approach, we allow adjustments to be made later on down the line.”

The completed building is comprised of both functional and innovative teaching spaces for the faculties of Science and Technology and The Arts & Creative Industries. In addition to these spaces, the Ritterman Building also includes a café, technology suites, a dance studio, and offices for academic staff. The building may take two to three years from initial idea to completion, whilst the educational curriculum can change every year,” said Beaty-Pownall. “So being prepared to adapt and change the building over time is really important.”

BEHIND THE SCENES WITH BIM LEVEL 2
The timing of the Ritterman Building provided the perfect opportunity for bpr to transition to a BIM practice. Middlesex University already had a framework in place that required bpr to work with the same teams, including structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers, across all projects. “It’s been very effective to work over a long period of time with the same design team across a number of different buildings with the same clients,” said Beaty-Pownall.

The ability to import different types of files into Vectorworks helped the bpr team progress through their design plans at a faster pace.

“The structural engineer had Revit and was very keen to collaborate. In the early stages he would send us his models in IFC and we would import them into our Vectorworks model to keep things simpler. The others all use 3D software in different packages, that were then exported into IFC and coordinated in a federated model, in Tekla.” – Lizzie Dodwell

To produce detailed drawings and construction documents, bpr took the Vectorworks model and created separate files for three distinct “zones” in the 3D modeling environment – the envelope, core, and internal zones. This enabled three teams to work on separate files. The teams then referenced each work area to a single sheet file, which they could work on in 2D to export detailed drawings and schedules. In this way, the entire team could extract consistent information from a single source.

Beaty-Pownall believes that embracing BIM workflows across the practice has been worth the effort. This collaborative way of completing projects has enhanced bpr’s workflow in ways that, without Vectorworks software, may not have been possible. “One of the core benefits to the practice of using a 3D workflow is how it enables us to focus on design with the confidence that the delivery of information to support exciting ideas is robust,” he said “We could push the boundaries and explore opportunities as the project develops.”
Although bpr did not serve as the BIM manager for the second half of the project, obtaining and maintaining Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) information allowed the firm to ensure that the coordination of the different disciplines would come together at every stage of the design process. Increasing Accuracy and Saving Time The benefits of Vectorworks extend beyond collaboration, increasing accuracy and saving time by using integrated Vectorworks worksheets instead of spreadsheets to keep track of project details. “When we used Excel spreadsheets for our scheduling, we were literally taking up time counting door by door and door handle and hinge,” said Beaty-Pownall. “We now have a lot more confidence that the data provided is accurate.”

Finally, Vectorworks software has been helpful for bpr to see buildings in context, as the team can situate designs within true-to-life surroundings to offer a large amount of detail to clients. “We tested the potential for a new performing arts building to understand the capacity of the proposed site,” said Beaty-Pownall. “Placing it in a wider context – how high the buildings are, the character of the area, as this would be a landmark building. The Massing Model and Space tools were used to determine whether it would have a really significant impact on the neighbourhood.”

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Middlesex’s vice chancellor, Professor Tim Blackman, hailed the building as helping the university to “provide students with a world-class learning environment equipped with the latest facilities and technology,” cementing its reputation among employers “for graduates taught in industry-standard settings with the skills they need.”

“I think it’s really important to work with a client, like Middlesex University, to ensure that this whole process is going to be of benefit to them. They need to be able to know that the information we are able to provide upon completion is supported by their facilities systems.” – Paul Beaty-Pownall

Working in the public sector, especially for a client in the higher education industry, has made Beaty-Pownall recognise the importance and legacy of their work. What started as a creative brief can become a reality within the software.

“There’s a natural feel to drawing a 3D model of a building with Vectorworks. Thinking through how it is actually built as you draw, helps to structure the model, provide efficient packages of information, and design great buildings.”

Now that the Ritterman Building is complete, bpr is committed to working completely in BIM with 3D models for future projects. “Working in 3D enables you to visualise what you’re designing,” said Beaty-Pownall. “With every line you draw, you can see the impact on the wider vision.”

Webinar: Improving Planting Design Workflows with Vectorworks Landmark

The Plant Object and Landscape Area tools in Vectorworks® Landmark are tailor made for the site design professional to create, document, and communicate solutions for projects of all sizes.

This presentation will demonstrate the robust 2D and 3D capabilities of these tools, which provide you the ability to visually convey your design intent in all phases of a site’s design while still evoking your personal style. From schematic phases to design development, Vectorworks allows you to easily add plant data that directly informs and parametrically controls plant objects.

Webinar attendees will be able to identify the benefits of Plant Object controls such as placement modes, including individual, hedged, or massed plantings, as well as fixed and variable settings regulating attributes such as plant height, spread, and spacing. Furthermore, whether you work in 2D or in 3D, attendees will see that new technologies also make the construction documentation phase easier thanks to customisable label styles and built-in worksheets that provide dynamic and accurate material counts as planting plans are finalised.

Learning Objectives:

  • Learn how to optimise individual and firm-wide workflows when producing design development and construction documents by using advanced plant placement settings.
  • Understand the visualisation and analysis benefits of immediate 2D/3D representation of plants using parametric plant symbols that generate their own 3D plant graphics.
  • Realise efficiencies gained in design development by incorporating saveable style settings subsequently used to replicate data, size and spacing preferences on plants and landscape areas.

Register Now

Thursday 24th May
7PM – 8PM BST

Webinar: Leveraging The Power of PDF in BIM Workflows

Project delivery is still dominated by the production, exchange, and use of documents to describe the scope and elements of a building’s construction. PDF is now at the heart of that mode of delivery in the larger BIM process. By pairing Vectorworks and Bluebeam, architects and their collaborators are able to leverage the best features of both platforms to provide more complete, clear, and relevant information to project stakeholders, in a format many are already familiar with.

Join industry experts from Vectorworks and Bluebeam as they showcase the latest PDF features of Vectorworks Architect, the new workflow integration with Bluebeam Studio, and collaborative project workflows leveraging Bluebeam Revu.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the project delivery process in a BIM workflow.
  • Discover how PDF plays a role in the larger BIM collaborative process.
  • Describe the advantages of using PDF in the collaborative process and why it is the preferred method of communication with specific project stakeholders.
  • Understand how to utilise PDFs throughout different phases of a project.

Register Now

Thursday 10th May, 2018
7 PM – 8PM BST

How Much is Vectorworks?

This is a pretty open question – but frequently asked, so we’d thought give a quick intro to pricing.

Prices

Vectorworks pricing, in simple terms, ranges from £1745+VAT to £3700+ (+VAT). The cheapest new license is Fundamentals without VSS and the most expensive is Designer with VSS. (These are RRP. For our latest prices, please visit our Vectorworks pages.)

Pricing has increased in recent years but this has been partly offset by the inclusion of Renderworks in all new licenses. Previously, this was a £400 addon.

Alternatives

The closest matches to Vectorworks – ArchiCAD, AutoCAD and Revit are generally more expensive. AutoCAD is cheaper than some versions of Vectorworks but doesn’t include the tools and libraries found in Vectorworks Landmark, Spotlight, Architect and Designer.

Super Upgrade Savings: 50% Off for Existing Vectorworks Customers

Get 50% off all upgrades until the 22nd July!

Why should I upgrade now?
Vectorworks will soon be changing their upgrade policy and all 2013 licenses and below will no longer be upgradable.

What’s Included in this Offer?
Upgrade to 2016 today with 50% off and receive an upgrade to Vectorworks 2017 (with your VSS contract) when it’s released. You will also gain access to online tutorials, new libraries and textures, priority technical support, on-demand licensing, Vectorworks Cloud Services and more!

The Rules:

I am new to VSS..

  • 50% off  your upgrade and 50% off VSS!
  • For licenses 2015 and older
  • Only for UK/Ireland clients
  • Running from 10th June – 22nd July 2016

My VSS contract is due for renewal or expired after the 1st July 2015..

  • 50% off your upgrade
  • For licenses 2015 and older
  • Customers with VSS Contracts that expire on either 1st July 2016 or 1st August 2016 must renew their VSS to qualify for this promotion.
  • VSS contracts that expired between the 1st July 2015 and 1st June 2016 must also be renewed to qualify for this promotion.
  • Running from 10th June – 22nd July 2016
  • Only for UK/Ireland clients 

My VSS contract expired before the 1st June 2015..

  • 50% off your upgrade and 50% off VSS
  • Only for expired contracts from the 1st June 2015 and older
  • For licenses 2015 and older
  • Running from 10th June – 22nd July 2016
  • Only for UK/Ireland clients

Upgrade Vectorworks today!

Mega Offer: Calling All New Vectorworks Users..

New to Vectorworks? Don’t miss out on this amazing offer, available until 23rd June.

Get 25% off your new license and get 1 year of Vectorworks Service Select (VSS) absolutely FREE!

With VSS you will receive upgrades to new major releases, technical support, online tutorials, free training days and more.

For further information or to buy Vectorworks today please go to our Vectorworks offer product page.

Vectorworks Offers – Today Only!

New Vectorworks Users

Save 30% on your Vectorworks license when you purchase with 2 years VSS.

Terms and Conditions:

  • This offer is only available to new customers of Vectorworks
  • There is no limit to the number of licences that can be purchased.
  • This offer is not applicable to current or previous Service Select members.
  • This offer is not applicable to education/student licences, this offer is available to Charities no Request needed from Vectorworks.
  • This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.

 

Existing Vectorworks Users

Save 60% on your upgrade when you purchase with 2 years VSS.

Terms and Conditions

  • This offer is not applicable to customers with a 2016 license
  • There is no limit to the number of upgrades that can be purchased.
  • This offer is not applicable to current or previous Vectorworks Service Select members.
  • This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer

Contact us today for a quote!
E: vectorworks@cadsoftwaredirect.com
T: 01206 804984

New Features in Vectorworks 2016

With the Vectorworks 2016 release, much has been improved. In addition to the underlying code being improved for the latest generation of operating systems, there are some seriously useful feature upgrades that will not only improve productivity but can probably reduce the need for, and cost of, other external software.

New Features

  • Marionette
  • Subdivision Surfaces
  • Point Cloud Support
  • Energos
  • Horizontal Sections from the Clip Cube
  • Roof Components and Styles
  • 3D Modifiers for Slabs
  • Improved Vectorworks Spotlight Objects
  • Door and Window Improvements
  • Hardscape Improvements
  • Exciting Site Modelling
  • Hoist Tools
  • Subdivision Surfaces
  • Point Cloud Support


Project Sharing

Potentially a major step change in productivity, the new project sharing functionality means a job can be split out amongst contributors – with each user’s jurisdiction protected from another user’s edits. Project Sharing enables two core features – version control and task splitting. For some organisations, this is a huge, game-changing feature.

To give an example.. Say you had a project in Dubai. Some team members are in Dubai, others are back in London. The project needs to progress fast, but there’s no way everyone can be on site. Additionally, saving files to a VPN or Dropbox account only goes so far – there are inevitable moments of overlap, or staff are held up whilst another user or team edits the principle job file. Perhaps worse, elements are built separately and some poor soul has to compile them at some late stage. With Project Sharing, this chaos can be avoided. A single project can have multiple contributors, each is protected from clashes with another. There is no limit to the number of users that can be working on a project at the same time. Time zones become irrelevant. Carefully saving files or merging changes is no longer a manual task. The gains are enormous. Take a look at the video for more details – or talk to us about a trial of Vectorworks 2015 if you’re not already a user.


Energos

Ideal for those in architectural or civil disciplines, Energos is a built-in building energy analysis tool. Use to improve the energy efficiency of a design, generate information for interested parties or even export for further analysis. For more information, take a look at this article on using Energos in Vectorworks.


Subdivison Surfaces

Quite a significant modelling addon, now that Vectorworks has SubD modelling, it becomes easy to create more organic forms without the use of external tools.

 


Cloud Services in Vectorworks Software

If you are on Vectorworks Service Select (VSS), you can now use built-in tools to save project files to Vectorworks cloud storage and publish drawings to the cloud or a DropBox account. These features, combined with the new Project Sharing functionality mean potentially huge productivity gains for users working as part of a team.


Point Cloud

Save time on projects that interact with historical structures. Vectorworks 2016 can process cloud point data in an intuitive way. Snap to cloud point data in order to dimension or draw up reference geometry.

 


Marionette

Marionette is a visual scripting interface based on Python. Specifically, it’s designed to allow easy creation and manipulation of calculated objects. Users of Rhino may see a lot of familiarity with Grasshopper. If you’re willing to spend some time with Marionette, it can become a powerful way to create organic geometry, develop repetitive forms that adjust incrementally based on a custom formula or use it to apply model-wide adjustments to particular parametric objects.

 


OBJ and STL Import

Further enhancing interoperability with other packages and systems, OBJ and STL import functionality means it’s just a little bit easier to load in objects from clients, suppliers, colleagues on other systems and object libraries.

 


Landmark Data Improvements

Small but significant improvements to the interface and live linking with the plant database should make life simpler for anyone routinely using the plant tools and database.


Renderworks Upgrade and Improvements

Easily modify line thickness and ambient light in OpenGL render. Use panoramic JPEG and PNG images as backgrounds as well as HDRI. Speed enhancements in full screen preview rendering and various UI improvements mean Renderworks is easier to work with than ever before.


Create Stage Improvements


Site Modelling Improvements


User Experience Improvements


Slab Improvements


Database Worksheet Improvements


Horizontal Sections from Clip Cube


Visualisation Techniques


Roof Components and Styles


Door and Window Improvements

Greater control over windows and doors including multiple glazing settings, new louvre settings, ‘span-wall’ window feature and other minor enhancements within the UI.

 


3D PDF Export

Easily export simple or detailed PDFs of your model for clients or collaborators. This incredibly useful feature can save time, reduce in-person meetings and means it’s no longer necessary to go to an external application for this functionality.


DXF DWG Improvements

Improvements to DXF & DWG exporting mean it’s now possible to store mappings and settings of classes to meet external requirements. Save one set of mappings and reduce time on every subsequent export.

 

 


Hardscape Improvements

Improvements to paving tools, allowing multiple gradients in hard surfaces and variable heights for kerbs and borders increase Vectorworks Landscape 2016‘s usefulness for users creating external environments.


Hoist Tool

The new hoist tool for Spotlight and Designer users allows hoists to feature as specific hoist objects within drawings and with associated settings – making them easier to create and edit.

Best CAD/3D Programs for Mac

This is a pretty open question but we thought we’d give it a go. There are a tonne of questions you will need to ask yourself before it’s even worth looking at a package; we’ll try to break it down a little here. It’s worth noting that some packages (such as AutoCAD LT) are 2D only, whilst most others can produce 2D and 3D work. Many people think ‘CAD’ means ‘AutoCAD’, whereas AutoCAD is simply one of the best known product brands in the market. In reality, AutoCAD is only best suited in certain scenarios and other applications are worth considering for the best functionality and budget match.

What type of work are you undertaking?

  • Basic 2D drawings
    Consider: TurboCAD for Mac, Rhino for Mac (2D & 3D), AutoCAD LT Mac.
  • Planning a house/extension (enthusiast level)
    Consider: TurboCAD, Sketchup (& Sketchup Pro).
  • Professional Interior Design / Architecture
    Consider: Sketchup Pro, Vectorworks Fundamentals or Architect, AutoCAD for Mac, Cinema4D Visualise, Modo.
  • Furniture Design (Non-complex surfaces) /Kitchen Design
    Consider: Sketchup Pro, Vectorworks Fundamentals, Modo.
  • Product & Industrial Design / Furniture Design
    Consider: Rhino for Mac, Cinema4D (Prime/Visualise), Moi 3D, Modo.
  • Engineering Drawings
    Consider: AutoCAD LT, TurboCAD for Mac

 

The Applications

TurboCAD for Mac
A cheap program best suited to infrequent users. TurboCAD for Mac offers functionality similar in many respects to AutoCAD but with a much smaller user base.

Pros: Cheap
Cons: Not easy to get started with. Limited documentation and user-community. Features not as robust as other packages.

 

Sketchup (& Sketchup Pro)

Sketchup offers a free version (Sketchup Make) for non-commercial use. It shares much of the basic functionality of the pro version but lacks the import/export options, certain pro-tools and the significant ‘Layout’ application – which is extremely powerful for producing 2D visuals for clients, planning applications, brochures etc. The user base for Sketchup is enormous and the wealth of plugins available is considerable. Sketchup Pro is around £500 inc. VAT, making it a little expensive for enthusiasts but one of the most cost-effective 3D programs for professional use.

Pros: Low price, huge user base, plenty of third party addons available, free resources in the 3D Warehouse [ Pro: BIM functionality for professional architectural users, powerful Layout application included, import/export in AutoCAD formats ]
Cons: Poor handling of complex surfaces, no 2D interaction when creating/editing models. 3D warehouse files often poorly built and can cause crashes.

 

Vectorworks (Fundamentals / Architect / Spotlight / Landmark)

Vectorworks comes in various flavours – with Fundamentals being the entry level package. Vectorworks has been used by Architects on Mac for a very long time. It remains one of the most popular architectural packages and possibly the most popular for Mac.

Pros: Proven track record on Mac. Specific versions include powerful tools for the specific industry (Architect – architecture/interior design, Spotlight – event/exhibition/public venue design, Landmark – landscape design, urban design). Works with AutoCAD file formats. Wide user base.
Cons: Pricier than other options – £1100 – £2500.

 

Cinema 4D

Cinema 4D is a solid modeller with a firm foothold in 3D design for broadcast/TV and architectural visualisation. It has a professional interface, is robust and its users are often very enthusiastic evangelists of the software. Its popularity is less than, say, Sketchup, but it remains well used and well documented. It comes in a basic form, known as Prime, but also comes as Cinema 4D Broadcast, Cinema 4D Visualise and Cinema 4D Studio (all packages combined).

Pros: Cost effective entry level package. Great track record on Mac. Visualise includes great rendering software. Support for polygonal and NURBS modelling.
Cons: Limited plugins. Costlier than some options.

 

Modo

A superb all-rounder, Modo offers a modelling interface similar to Cinema4D or 3DS Max (Windows) and importantly bundles modelling, animation and rendering in one. This makes it one of the most cost effective packages available for Mac.

Pros: Solid, tool-rich application. Animation and rendering included.
Cons: Smaller user base than some applications. High quality surface modelling (NURBS) available as a plugin.

 

Rhino for Mac

The version of Rhino for Mac captures most of the proven functionality of the Windows version and is arguably the most cost-effective professional 3D modeller for Mac available. Currently there some features yet to be released to bring parity with the Windows version and plugins are not currently supported. Nevertheless, for a high quality surface modeller with powerful 2D and 3D capabilities, it is extremely good value.

Pros: Extremely cost-effective. Large user base. Polygonal and NURBS modelling.
Cons: No plugins yet. Some limitations on features currently available in Windows.

MoI 3D

MoI (Moment of Inspiration) is a lightweight modeller with similar principles to Rhino. It was in fact created by a former Rhino developer. MoI is a competent 3D modeller with a simple interface – ideal for users wishing to create organic shapes without the complex interface or cost of some of the other applications here.

Pros: Low cost, competent 3D modeller. Simple interface.
Cons: Fewer options than other applications. Simple interface.

 

At the time of writing, we’re making recommendations based on Mac OS X 10.10+. Beware of expecting too much from a Macbook or Macbook Pro in 3D terms or older iMacs; check your machine against minimum specs for the software before investing. A Macbook Pro with 8Gb RAM and an Intel AMD HD graphics card can run out of puff on complex models quite quickly.

Vectorworks 1 Day Sale – Today Only!

What’s included in this offer?

New Customers – Purchase a 2 year VSS membership and get 50% off your Vectorworks license!

Existing Customers – Upgrade for free from version 2013 and below when you purchase a 2 year VSS membership.


What is Vectorworks Service Select (VSS)?

Vectorworks Service Select is a subscription agreement that provides customers with several added benefits, including immediate receipt of product releases, the best pricing, predictable budgets, priority technical support, VIP access to downloads, easy account management, and access to a growing library of on-demand learning tutorials. You’ll also have exclusive access to Vectorwork Cloud Services, as well as their mobile apps.


Contact us for a quote.

Phone:  01206 804984
Email:  sales.support@cadsoftwaredirect.com

http://www.cadsoftwaredirect.com/contact


Terms and Conditions

Upgrades

  • 2 year Service Select memberships must be paid upfront in one installment.
  • The free upgrade offer is only valid for professional licenses on version 2013 or earlier when joining the Vectorworks Service Select program for 2 years.
  • Any new licenses purchased alongside this offer will also require a Service Select attachment for 2 years.
  • Cost is based on the licenses currently owned and must be verified at the time of purchase.
  • This offer is valid for one day only, on Tuesday 9 June 2015 until 11:59pm GMT.
  • Customers with any 2014 or 2015 licenses do not qualify for this promotion.
  • This offer is not applicable to current or previous Service Select members.
  • This offer is not applicable to education/student licences.
  • This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.

New Licenses

  • This offer is only available to new customers of Vectorworks.
  • New customers must purchase two years of Vectorworks Service Select to receive 50% off a new Vectorworks licence.
  • There is no limit to the number of licences the new customer can purchase.
  • This offer is not applicable to current or previous Service Select members.
  • This offer is not applicable to education/student licences.
  • This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.
  • Any customers with existing licences are not entitled to this offer.