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Retaining Walls



I have been racking my brains, looking all over the web, community forums, and VW U with no luck on creating a curving retaining wall that's one piece.  Retaining walls are essential elements for all landscape designers and there should be a very slick tool that accomplishes it quickly and efficiently.  I would also be pretty cool if you could incorporate the site modifier right into it.  The walls I see out there are ok but they look like foundation walls not landscape walls.  If such a tool and methods exist please publish something specifically about it.  If it exists please share.

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44 minutes ago, Kevin K said:

@Landartma HAHAHAHA.....Just totally ignore Jeff P....he is a bit of a curmudgeon...and wise-ass. 🙂

I self identify as a political pundit, same difference I suppose 😉

but I am correct in my earlier statements.


@Kevin K don’t you have some sting rays to swim with?  Priorities my friend, get to it 😉


Edited by jeff prince
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Yes that plan has been hacked and messed with six ways to Sunday.  I have been playing in 3d over my slow winter months to get as good a handle on the 3d modeling as possible.  And that's my practice plan.  Honestly I'm not super worried about super high accuracy to the yard of fill or to the inch.  I'm mostly concerned about the ability to get VW set up so it exhibits my style for my clients in a reasonably accurate way.  Just like doing a hand drawing not exact but pretty close.  Once I master that I will worry about extracting data.  Fortunately I can estimate actual cost easily from 2d.  But I have some learning to do.  Guys thanks for your help on this.  This has been my biggest sticking point on the learning curve.

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3 hours ago, jeff prince said:

@Tom W. Well, since the vectorworks tools do not do the job correctly, it comes down to what a person wants to achieve, and this is not clear from the OP.

 Are we concerned with cut/fill calcs?

Is modeling the actual form and visual quality of the wall in 3D critical?

Will these things change, or is the design fairly well established?

As with everything in this program, the approach you take and the stage of development of the design will dictate future happiness.


Vectorworks is just not powerful or reliable  enough to handle this curved geometry as it applies to the site.  Enter Vectorworks Employee stage left to challenge this statement and try to discredit my position (see links in signature).  Venture to a construction site and observe how steep slopes and retaining walls are built to see how wrong VWX handles the job without using some trickery.


Personally, I build these virtually as they would be done in real life.  Grade the site first 🙂

Then...Build the wall using extrudes along a path if batter is expressed, other tools as appropriate otherwise.

Then resolve the area behind the retaining wall....Sometimes, I use my “multi-site model method”, sometimes I fake the backfill with a simple 3D poly, depends if accurate cut and fill is needed.  If the latter method is used, placing entourage between the retaining wall and below the 3D poly is encouraged (hoffa_jimmy3a.VWX works well for this).


Too many problems with Vectorworks to trust it to do the right thing when it comes to curvilinear design and site models IMHO.

<insert “Prove me wrong meme”>



Cheers @jeff prince must be very therapeutic burying bodies in your site models must try it myself some time 🙂

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@Landartma ok....is this what you were hoping to do?

cutting to the chase....

1) I believe the tool to use is Tapered Extrude... for several reasons. It is all one object ! 

That stone wall is battered, which by using Tapered Extrude, you can easily tweak the angle of the batter, etc,  as well as the height.

2) I tweaked your site model a bit to better show how that battered wall will work, so don't panic :-)

You do have some site model conflicts, but that is not part of this drill :-)  A few other anomalies exist as well.  Not important now.

3) The other thing that makes this possible is the use 'pad with retaining edge'.  That is how I got the terrain behind the battered wall to sit just below the back of the battered wall, but on the front side the grade drops down.  I can't get into all the subtleties at the moment. I also used 'pad with retaining edge' to pull the grade up against your foundation. 

I can upload the file if you wish, but some of what I did may be Greek to you.

I left the other site model you had in the file as is, as you can see from the screenshot.


No worries regarding any of this, but just know you will owe me for the rest of your life. :-)




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Thanks Kevin.  Yes.  The extrude was the one thing I hadn't tried yet and just saw it in a training doc.  If Vectorworks was a cat you could skin it many different ways...it appears.  I did a mock up with an extrude but not a tapered extrude.  No worries on uploading the file I'm going to learn Vectorworks maybe Greek later in life.  I will definitely give that one a try with the pad with retaining edge.   If I went into a panic every time my site model went wacky I'd be in the corner blithering.  Again thanks to all that helped with this.  I think I would be good material for a training video. 

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Here is the extrude I did.  Pretty simple.  I just created the polygon with an inverted 8ish percent slope front then 90 on the back extruded along the path.  Can that extrude be turned into a wall style?  As it is the extrude can't have the site wall modifier applied.  I'm going to put my own stone wall image props on as a textures so I can show client varying wall styles.  Can you get there from here?  Next I'll try a tapered extrude.503163993_Screenshot(32).thumb.png.b6292cb4e2b0e6efd1f147b8d37c0d5e.png953513039_Screenshot(33).thumb.png.77b9016014fa6f5bdea3cfd95f2fa857.png

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@Landartma no there is no way to convert an Extrude into a Wall. Walls are always straight-sided, that's why the Landscape Wall tool was intriguing.


There is a way I've used to 'sculpt' the surface of my walls to for example put a continuous plinth detail along the bottom or a coving detail along the top, and this could be used to put a batter on a wall, but would only be appropriate for straight walls really. It involves using wall hole geometry in a symbol to subtract material from the wall surface. But I would stick to extrudes to be honest.


One thing about extrudes is they display hollow in top/plan so you will probably want to convert them in Auto-Hybrids.


As @Kevin K said he used Site Modifiers>Pad With Retaining Edge Mode in 'Site Planning' tool set rather than the Create Retaining Wall Site Modifier... command.


Yes is very easy to make your own textures using images although I personally have only ever done it using jpegs I've got online.


Such as http://www.cadhatch.com/seamless-stone-textures/4588167766


I'd love to hear from someone who takes their own photos of surfaces for making textures. I've never looked into it - have always wondered how you achieve the seamless nature of them.


Check the detail level on your OpenGL options (View>Rendering>OpenGL Options...). If you set it to Very High that will get rid of the facets on your wall.

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@Landartma you can actually get pretty close to what you're after using Slabs. Both of these are single Slab objects where I've used Clip Surface + Add 3D Object to Slab... commands to form the set-back for the footing + taper for the batter. This way you have the solid 2D view plus the functionality of them being Slabs over simple extrudes.



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I think you hit the nail on the head Tom.  I will need to absorb what your saying and mess with it.  I have been going though my images and have several dry stack walls I intend to set up as image props and textures.  I will most surely keep you all updated as I progress.  I second Kevin's point.  Tom you really seem to get the software...You could teach it.  I'm out today doing the hands on stuff.  I sincerely appreciate the help in removing the training wheels.  Thank you!

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