We have already provided some initial thoughts on the Vectorworks Design Summit held last week in Philadelphia. In this report we’ll cover a lot of terrain at a high level to give folks an overview of the event. I have personally been to many events and conferences, and this event stands out as one of the better planned, programmed and orchestrated conferences I’ve attended.
Here’s what impressed me. The three-day conference struck a near perfect balance between information, inspiration, and networking fun. The information part included direct Vectorworks training for attendees who wanted to dig into the tool and gain skills. This took part the first day only and folks brought their own computers. Files were supplied so folks could follow along with the instructor.
The other side of the information coin included the type of learning that took place in the wide variety of sessions over the 2nd and 3rd day. These were time-efficient, 1-hour topical sessions with learning unit options, typical of the type of session one encounters like at the AIA National Convention. Keeping the sessions to one hour meant participants could experience a wide variety of new information and speakers. It also kept folks moving a lot (and awake!) This lively pace of activity was “bookended” with major keynote addresses on both days. More on the actual keynotes on the 2nd page of this article.
These keynote addresses contained the meat of the inspirational aspects of the event. After a walk back through time with Vectorworks’ CEO, the design keynote speaker, architect Leo Van Broeck, founder of BOGDAN & VAN BROECK, gave an excellent talk that people were continuing to talk about for the next day and a half. The final day had the morning future of Vectorworks keynote and closing design keynote by Adrian McGregor, managing director of landscape architecture and urban design firm McGregor Coxall.
Each day, except the last (3rd), featured a party with dinner and they gave participants time to network, make friends and generally unwind. One final note. All of this activity, with the exception of the dinners, took place within the intimacy of a business-class hotel with excellent facilities. If you got tired and needed to recharge (or recharge your electronics) your room was just an elevator ride away.
In terms of press attending or invited? From what I could tell there were three publications in attendance—Architosh, Tenlinks, and CAD User from the UK.
One of the more delightful aspects of the Vectorworks Design Summit was that they had a mini expo hall, an area just outside the large keynote presentation room. As attendees exited the major keynotes they poured past small table booths showcasing products and services related to or belonging to the larger Nemetschek Vectorworks ecosystem. Companies present at the event included:
- Asite™, a cloud technology offering in their Adoddle platform for comprehensive construction project management.
- Bluebeam Software, Inc, a family member of the greater Nemetschek Group and the most recent acquisition by the German software giant. A popular question to the Bluebeam team is: when will you have a native Mac version. The person staffing the booth told me they are working on it but don’t have any announcements to make just yet. One might best be advised to recognize that it may take 18-24 months before Bluebeam makes announcements regarding tighter integration with its sister BIM companies in ArchiCAD and Vectorworks, counting back from the fall of 2014.
- Canon USA was there showing their large-format printers. Besides Canon now owning the subsidiary that distributes Vectorworks into Japan, Nemetschek Vectorworks’ largest market, Canon has developed direct support of Vectorworks in two specific 5-color printers. The 24 inch wide iPF685/680 ($2,496.USD max.) and the 36 inch wide iPF785/780 ($4,495.USD). These printers are directly supported at the driver level from Vectorworks (i.e.: no need for Postscript driver or forced conversion to PDF format for printing). All of Canon’s wide format machines naturally print out PDFs and have wide availability of Postscript optionality.
- EIZO was on hand to show off their ColorEdge high-performance technical monitors (displays), offering trouble-free color calibration. For users requiring the most demanding color accuracy EIZO monitors are highly regarded.
- irisVR was on hand with a pair of Oculus Rift virtual reality goggles. I had never put on a pair of these before and was quite blown-away but the experience. This technology, perhaps more than anything else in the market right now, other than cloud + mobile, is going to transform AEC workflows. While in their booth the irisVR team said they are currently working on a plugin for Vectorworks which might show up in time for AIA Atlanta next week. From within Vectorworks one executes a menu command that pushes the BIM or 3D model to an Oculus Rift setup. While there has been much ballyhoo about the Oculus Rift, the irisVR team told me the new HTC with Valve VR product (which we wrote about here earlier in May) is even better.
- Lenovo and MakerBot were both on hand showing their hardware options….the former their ThinkStation mobile workstations (which are actually quite nice). Lenovo is now the world’s largest PC maker. The former IBM PC division has expanded greatly under the leadership of Lenovo. MakerBot is a subsidiary of Stratasyst Limited and a global leader in 3D printing. Folks were 3D printing Vectorworks models.
- MAXON with Cinema 4D was also there as well as providing sessions for attendees to learn about the popular professional 3D software application. The Cinema 4D company is the entire M&E (media & entertainment) segment with the Nemetschek Group, but based on this report here the group plans acquisitions in this space within a year or so. MAXON has provided exceptional growth performance for the company
- Nemetschek Scia is a world-leading developer of structural analysis software that supports the Open BIM process.
- Finally Synchro Software was on hand to show their award-winning 4D (time dimension) scheduling software. Synchro PRO integrates data and models from leading BIM companies, including direct support for Vectorworks.
As you can see there were more than 10 different companies showing well over a dozen products and services options for all attendees at the Design Summit. This is a really big number for a small event. At the AIA National Conference next week we expect to see just about twice that number, yet thousands of attendees.
Design Summit Sessions
As we mentioned above, a core component of the Design Summit were its sessions. These struck an interesting balance between directly applicable to Vectorworks learning and sessions spotlighting notable architects and designers and their work and supporting workflows.
A sampling description of the sessions include items like “Creating and Managing Libraries” by trainer Jonathan Pickup, author of several Vectorworks training manuals. Panel and moderated sessions included items like “How Vectorworks Gives 3 Designers a Competitive Edge”, moderated by the Vectorworks folks and features three noteworthy users.
Some sessions took place in the main keynote room due to their anticipated popularity. One such session was “BIM Planning of the Swissfel Project” by Marc Pancera, Architekt MSc. ETH Arch. of Itten+Brechbühl AG. These guys were so fascinating we have a feature interview planned on the firm and their work on this linear particle accelerator project.
next page: Photo Gallery and Notes on Keynotes