How A&Q Partnership Manages Large Design Files

Posted by Alex Altieri on 8/3/21 2:31 PM  |  2 min read time
Alex Altieri
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The larger a project gets, the more performance risk the design file assumes. Files packed with too much information can be impossibly slow.

This blog will cover a firm-tested file management method to ensure design files perform smoothly.

The firm is A&Q Partnership, who are working on a 1,200-unit residential project in Vectorworks. A restoration of the Eight Gardens at Watford, the project involved structural engineers, landscape architects, civil engineers, and more, so the stakes were high to produce a high-functioning file that could be used for collaboration.

What the project shows is that even for the largest endeavors — 1,200 individual units is quite massive — there’s a verified way to produce a cohesive, high-performance file to use for documentation and model exchange.

Collaborating on Large Files with Vectorworks

Nick Lawrence and his co-workers at A&Q Partnership addressed the concern of file performance well before they even began the project.

residential architecture in vectorworks design software

Eight Gardens at Watford, designed in Vectorworks and rendered in Twinmotion. Courtesy of Nick Lawrence and A&Q Partnership.

They rely on a multi-file method, where each of the project’s six buildings was assigned its own file that’s separate from the master file. They referenced each building into the master file for coordination and did most of the design work in each distinct building file. Site-wide assets like wall styles and window types are contained in separate “asset library files,” Lawrence explained.

“For coordinating changes, you have to manage them from each building or library file, then update the link in the master file,” he said. “It means that when one person makes a change, it’s then changed across the entire suite of drawings. I think it does save us quite a lot of time and, perhaps more importantly, it controls and limits people from making changes on a whim.”

residential architecture in vectorworks design software

Eight Gardens at Watford, designed in Vectorworks and rendered in Twinmotion. Courtesy of Nick Lawrence and A&Q Partnership.

The method limits information in each file so that you and collaborators can work on it without worry over performance. The method also front-loads a lot of the coordination, so that when inevitable changes occur later in the design process, they’re done smoothly and without significant effort.

This method of referencing for managing large projects also works with Project Sharing, Vectorworks’ multi-user environment.

In other words, don’t be afraid of taking on a large project — by breaking it down into more manageable pieces, the project is bound to turn out coordinated and ready for construction teams.

Curious about the Eight Gardens project? Read the full story below!

Residential Architecture & the Pathway to BIM

Topics: BIM (Architecture), Tech Tips and Workflows

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