VECTORWORKS ARCHITECT GIVES MORE DESIGN FREEDOM TO CUSTOM HOME

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					VECTORWORKS CASE STUDY

VECTORWORKS ARCHITECT GIVES MORE DESIGN FREEDOM TO CUSTOM HOME ARCHITECTS

VECTORWORKS CASE STUDY: V E C T O RW O RK S A RC HI T E C T G I V E S M O RE D E S I G N F RE E D O M T O C U S T O M H O ME A RC HI T E C T S

VECTORWORKS CASE STUDY: Vectorworks Architect Gives More Design Freedom to Custom Home Architects

LEADING NEW ENGLAND CUSTOM HOME BUILDER SWITCHED TO VECTORWORKS FOR MORE DESIGN FREEDOM, REDUCED DESIGN TIME AND FEWER COSTLY ERRORS.
The use of a highly flexible computer aided design (CAD) system provides a very high level of design freedom to architects at Morehouse MacDonald & Associates, Lexington, Massachusetts, who specialize in high-end custom homes.
“We took a giant step forward by switching to VectorWorks.”

“VectorWorks also provides a huge array of tools that aid in communicating with clients,

Anthony Frausto, Information Technology Manager for the firm added, “Our CAD software allows us to work in 2D and 3D using the same interface and same tools, making it possible to view the design from any viewpoint in the early concept phase and address issues that otherwise wouldn’t become apparent until we had much more time and money invested in the project. VectorWorks also provides a huge array of tools that aid in communicating with clients, such as the ability to easily incorporate bitmaps into a drawing and generate subtle color overlays.” Morehouse MacDonald & Associates is one of the leading architecture firms designing custom homes in New England. The company typically spends a year working with its clients to develop a design that turns their requirements and dreams into reality. The company’s client base is primarily in the Boston metropolitan area, but it is designing more and more structures in other parts of the country based primarily on the needs of its current clients.

“The challenge of designing high-end, one-ofa-kind homes is nearly everything has to be built from scratch, which, in turn, means that everything has to be designed from scratch,” Frausto said. “We can’t just pop in windows and doors from a typical CAD library. We have to design every item to the high level of detail and integrity required for it to be quoted and built by leading woodworking shops in the region.”

STARTING WITH AUTOCAD
Most of the architects of the firm had their first experience with AutoCAD, which is the most popular CAD program in the architectural business.

“AutoCAD is a powerful tool, but getting to each of its functions can be challenging,” said Vu Alexander Frausto added that the company is just beginning to AIA, Project Manager at Morehouse MacDonald & Associates. “For example, to draw an arc, you provide computerized numerical control (CNC) data begin by typing in ‘ARC,’ and then the program to woodworking shops that will be used to directly provides a series of parameters and options you produce the components on computer-driven need to enter. Layering is complicated by the need machine tools. Moving directly from the design to type in a command to turn a layer on or off.” drawings to manufacturing will further increase the company’s need to ensure the accuracy of every detail. “Having to move between model space and paper space in AutoCAD creates some major complications,” added Bruneau. “After you decide what area you want to print, you usually have to think about rescaling that section of the drawing so it will look right on paper. You have to continually think about the scale of text and other annotations and how they will look when they are printed. Then you typically have to enter a series of commands to print a drawing. This requires a considerable amount of time and effort that interferes with the conceptual development process.”

“Like most of the architects at this firm, I got started using AutoCAD software and got used to the idea of building a drawing one line at a time by entering text commands,” said Peter Bruneau, Project Manager at the company. “We took a giant step forward by switching to VectorWorks. All major commands are on icons right in front of us and we can draw with polygons and rectangles, which is faster because far fewer lines have to be drawn.”

VECTORWORKS CASE STUDY: Vectorworks Architect Gives More Design Freedom to Custom Home Architects

VECTORWORKS CASE STUDY: Vectorworks Architect Gives More Design Freedom to Custom Home Architects

SWITCHING TO VECTORWORKS
Morehouse MacDonald & Associates made the decision to use VectorWorks because the firm concluded that it provided equivalent functionality to AutoCAD yet is more flexible, far easier to use, and substantially less expensive. “VectorWorks is much more friendly,” Alexander said. “The icons are right there on the screen for just about any operation you might want to perform. When you click on a tool, the options you need to fully define what you want to do are very clear and self-explanatory. Typically, you have the option of entering the needed information either graphically, such as by dragging an arc to the desired size, or by typing in a dimension.” VectorWorks also provides a SmartCursor that snaps onto virtually any significant geometric feature, streamlining the process of generating a design from basic geometric shapes. The SmartCursor automatically identifies relationships like endpoints, midpoints, center points, tangencies, and real and extended intersections. If Alexander wants

to connect a line to the midpoint of another line, for example, all he has to do is move the cursor in the general vicinity of the midpoint, then when a “midpoint” cue appears, click the mouse. The program does the work of maintaining alignments and ensuring that the geometry is precise, freeing the user to concentrate on functionality of the design.

WORKING SMARTER WITH VECTORWORKS
According to Bruneau, printing is much simpler with this CAD software. “VectorWorks eliminates the extra step of setting up the original image through a viewport,” he said. The software provides an outline of the paper that shows the drawing relative to the borders of the page. Everything appears on scale on the
“VectorWorks lets you move from one layer to another or turn an object on or off in a layer with a single click of the mouse, eliminating the layering overhead involved in working with AutoCAD.”

page, so you can edit the paper drawing just as if it were the actual model. The layering system in VectorWorks provides the flexibility to layer drawings, so each item only needs to be drawn once. For example, if I am drawing a foundation plan, I can put the walls in a separate layer and use them in the basement plan just by turning them on. Or, if I am doing an electrical plan, instead of copying and pasting the floor plan drawing, I just turn it on in the electrical drawing sheet. Of course, AutoCAD provides exactly the same functionality, but it’s much easier to access in VectorWorks. VectorWorks lets you move from one layer to another or turn an object on or off in a layer with a single click of the mouse, eliminating the layering overhead involved in working with AutoCAD.”

VECTORWORKS CASE STUDY: Vectorworks Architect Gives More Design Freedom to Custom Home Architects

VECTORWORKS CASE STUDY: Vectorworks Architect Gives More Design Freedom to Custom Home Architects

Frausto added that the flexibility of VectorWorks is very valuable in creating drawings that are easy for clients and builders to understand. “Our CAD software provides a great deal of flexibility in generating fills, like a color hatch that’s transparent on top of other colors,” he said. “We use graduated color, for example, a terra cotta-like color at 60 percent, to emphasize different areas of plans and elevations. VectorWorks provides the
“We have reduced the time required to create perspective drawings by over 300 percent by printing a wireframe and rendering over it by hand.”

IMPROVING WORK PROCESSES WITH 3D
The firm is working more and more frequently in three dimensions. “The biggest advantage we have found so far from working in 3D is we can view each aspect of the design from many different angles,” Frausto said. “Often we discover that the design looks different than what we intended. Typically, the model becomes a point of departure as we produce paper sketches and new models of the section in question. Then we update the model and view the design modifications from various angles to be sure we have fixed the problem.

In one unusual application, the firm used 3D models to study the view from the sea of a personal boathouse/lighthouse they designed for the client. They generated several computer renderings to show how the lighthouse looked at various times of the day. They showed these renderings to their client and ended up making several improvements as a result. In another case, the firm’s architects used VectorWorks to produce a flythrough of a new house to demonstrate to the zoning board that it would not have an excessive visual impact.
“VectorWorks makes us an adaptive enterprise.’”

various advantages and dissadvantages to them,” he said. “I see the CAD platform, our CAD data, and the staff’s core workflow processes as the ‘true platform’ in the office, not the OS, and—so unlike AutoCAD— using VectorWorks affords us operating system flexibity. Our IT stategy, at heart, is about being a nimble business; to borrow from HP’s current slogan “VectorWorks makes us an ‘adaptive enterprise.’”
For more information, contact Nemetschek North America, makers of VectorWorks, at 888-646-4223. Or, visit us on the web at www.vectorworks.net.

subtlety of color that, in the past, we could only achieve with a watercolor wash. We show depth in 2D drawings by making the background objects 20% lighter than those in the foreground and use transparent crosshatches to simulate shadows. We “The 3D model is also very useful to the also frequently add hand drawings by scanning builders,” he continued. “Some houses are them and importing them into a VectorWorks quite large and complicated, so if they are file. We have reduced the time required to create built on a site with a grade change, they can perspective drawings by over 300 percent by be hard to understand from a 2D view. We printing a wireframe and rendering over it by hand.” provide the builders with a 3D model they can interrogate to get any information they need.”

Frausto added that one additional advantage of VectorWorks compared to AutoCAD is that it works equally well on both the PC and Macintosh platforms. “Although we have not fully maximized the crossplatform nature of VectorWorks, it is understood that, at any given time, the two platforms have


				
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