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difference between vectorworks and vectorworks architect?

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What are the big differences between these two programs....why spend the extra $650? I work for a small-sized architecture firm in California, and we are currently using PowerCADD 2000. More and more we find ourselves needing 3D modeling capablities and so Vectorworks seems like a viable solution. Can the basic Vectorworks program fill this need, or are there truly significant benefits to the Vectorworks Architect program?

For instance...does the Architect version help ease the correspondence with other consultants? Right now we share files on an FTP site, converting our documents to DWGs and PDFs...I guess I'm confused as to how we would change our approach to working with other consultants (who often use AutoCAD).

Does a small-sized firm need all those "extras" offered?


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  • Vectorworks, Inc Employee

The difference between VW and VWA is really only about $395, I'm not sure about the $650 number, unless that difference includes RenderWorks.

VectorWorks ARCHITECT is intended to make 3D architectural design in VectorWorks easier, and also to increase your productivity in creating contract documents.

Here's a list of many (but by no means all) of the additional features available in VectorWorks ARCHITECT that are not in the foundation VectorWorks package:


Advanced Wall Capabilities

-Connected Walls make layout easy

-Automatic auto-heal

-Wall cavities can be hidden by view scale

-Selected walls can be replaced with new style

-Wall records for non-graphic wall schedule data

-Fit Walls to Roof command automatically adjusts

walls to roof or slabs.

Site Modeling

-Automatic topo lines from geometry

-Site Boundaries with updating metes and bounds notation

-Cut and fill

-Massing models to quickly build contextual settings

Setup and Layer/Class standards

-Model setup makes multi-floor arrangements easy

-Modify Layers and Classes lets you change from your naming standard to AIA or any other.

60 Object Libraries comprising thousands of objects

Advanced Space Planning Features

-Model to Floorplan turns 3D design concepts into 2D plans.

-Space object for concept design and programming

-Automatically make walls from spaces or vice versa

-Bubble diagramming

Seating Layout Tools for auditoriums meeting rooms

Notes Management

-Create, store, retrieve and manage annotations between projects

-Use notes as keynotes or general notes

-Redlines for quality control markups

-Predefined schedules for inclusion in your production drawings.

Printing Management

-Issue manager to help with issuing and revision control

-Batch Printing

Floor, Roof and Wall Framing in 2D and 3D.

MEP features

-Electrical objects

-Circuiting tools and automatic panel elevations

-Conductor and conduit sizing calculators

-Ductwork layouts in both 2D and 3D.

-3D riser diagrams

Energy Analysis and Solar Animation

-Reporting using DOE-2

-Quicktime Solar Animation movies (using RenderWorks)


As to your specific question, I think the "Modify Layers and Classes" command should make it easier to automatically translate from your naming standard for layers and classes (whatever it is) into the naming standard that your consultant uses before you translate into DWG.

I don't think they're "extras". If you're doing architectural work, you'll be able to get it done more quickly with the tools, commands and objects provided in the ARCHITECT package.

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Took a look at your website. Based on the type of work you do, I'd be very surprised if you didn't recover the additional cost of the Architect package in a few days of billable time.

Be aware, as you probably are, that there will be a learning curve and some paradigm changes that you and your team will go through. You'll likely want to budget time and $s for that. But the cost will be well worth it.

You might like to read thread: http://techboard.nemetschek.net/ubb/ultimatebb.php?ubb=get_topic;f=12;t=004046

Good luck.

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  • 4 weeks later...


I've got an older version that I bought to use for topo, primarily on the advertised capabilities (errr...hype?) to do such work. Though an engineer by occupation, I generally don't need such capabilities for my work, but for this personal owner-builder project requiring reasonably-accurate contours for some steep hillside construction and grading, it looked like VWKS was the ticket.

Suffice it to say that VWKS Arch 9.5.2 was not ready for release in terms of this advertised topo capability. My numerous calls to tech support ultimately led nowhere, though at least one tech was very diligent. Essentially, importing topo data had proved virtually impossible, with numerous baffling errors reported during the import process, despite every conceivable permutation of data format.

If you're doing straightforward projects that come together at round-number angles and sit on flat lots, then you've probably got none of this to worry about. But when I tried to 3D model rambling poured-in-place retaining walls that ran up slopes, the 'breaks' in wall direction could not be made to stay together when I changed viewpoint (if I altered the viewpoint, the corners would 'unsnap' from each other as if a gap existed at the corners, a disquieting behavior that one doesn't want in either a model or the real thing...and that tech support was unable to fix).

Presumably, by version 11, they have improved this, but...caveat emptor. At the time I was trying to solve this problem and tech support had failed, the most Nemetschek would do for me was offer to sell me an upgrade when the new version came out. After my countless hours of frustration this didn't seem like adequate support, and didn't offer a guarantee that the problems would be solved by a new version.

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Robert Anderson has given a list of tool and additional functions, but it may not be clear what use they are:

the connected walls mode is great, when you move one wall any walls that connect to it are stretched as well. the is a workaround to not having this, but this a still really useful.

Site modeling, there is no work-around to not having site modelling. the site modelling allows you to create a 3D model of your site based on contours or other 3D points. from there you can check 3D recession planes of your project in relation to the boundary, solar animations... and so on

the wall type library may not sound like much, but a properly set up wall type (setting the height, width and class of the wall) really makes it fast to draw. instead of having to remember what colour, line weight, fill, class and wall height you want to use for common wall types you can concentrate of the design.

the issue manager is essential and makes filling in title blocks easier. you can specify which drawings you are going to issue and link this to the batch printing command. You can add issue notes only to the drawings that you are going to issue.

i know that this is not a full list. For me, VectorWorks Architect is essential, i could work the way I do with out it.

If you have a look at my demo version of my VectorWorks Architect Tutorial then you will get a ideal of the sort of things that the architect version has that the standard VectorWorks does not.

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