IFC overview

The Vectorworks Design Suite products support Building Information Model (BIM) interoperability using the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) data specification and file formats. Vectorworks currently supports versions 2x3 and 4, and is certified by buildingSMART International for the export of models based on the IFC2x3 Coordination View 2.0 - Architecture model view definition, and IFC4 Reference View 1.2, as well as import of any IFC2x3 Coordination View 2.0 model.

IFC is an open standard, developed and maintained by buildingSMART International, for building data that permits information to be shared and maintained throughout the life cycle of the construction project: design, analysis, specification, fabrication, construction, and occupancy.

The capabilities and usage for IFC data standards are still evolving. However, objects and models containing IFC data have been proven to be a useful part of the design process. Some examples of the use of IFC data include:

Collaborative design, where an architect exports an architectural model to a structural engineer for analysis and design, and then imports the structural model, in an IFC format, for coordination purposes

Energy performance simulation and analysis of a building envelope and systems

Automated analysis of code compliance

Space planning and space inventory analysis

BIM 4D/5D simulations (analysis of construction sequences and timelines, and cost estimation and management)

Central to the concept of IFC is the idea of “semantic objects.” Like Vectorworks plug-in objects, IFC objects are more than just collections of geometry; they have a meaning within the building fabric itself, be it as a door, a wall, a window, or a handrail.

Vectorworks plug-in objects automatically have standard IFC entities and property sets attached to them. Most content in the Vectorworks Architect, Landmark, and Design Suite symbol libraries has default IFC attachments, as well.

Click to show/hide the IFC entity types.Click to show/hide the IFC entity types.

Vectorworks plug-in objects and IFC entity types

Site planning

Existing Tree (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

Grade (IfcAnnotation)

Guardrail (IfcRailing)

Hardscape (IfcSlab)

Landscape Area (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

Landscape Wall (IfcWall)

Massing Model (IfcBuilding)

Parking Area (IfcSpace)

Parking Spaces (IfcSpace)

Plant (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

Railing/Fence (IfcRailing)

Roadway (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

Site Model (IfcSite)

Building shell

Column (IfcColumn + IfcCovering)

Curtain Wall (IfcCurtainWall + IfcMember + IfcPlate)

Custom Stair (IfcStair)

Door (IfcDoor)

Drilled Footing (IfcFooting)

Elevator (IfcTransportElement)

Escalator (IfcTransportElement)

Joist (IfcBeam)

Mullion (IfcMember)

Pilaster (IfcColumn + IfcCovering)

Pillar (IfcColumn)

Ramp (IfcRamp)

Roof (IfcRoof + IfcWall + IfcSlab)

Roof Face (IfcSlab)

Simple Stair (IfcStair)

Slab (IfcSlab + IfcFlowTerminal)

Space (IfcSpace)

Stair (IfcStair + IfcRailing + IfcSlab + IfcStairFlight)

Structural Member (IfcBeam, IfcColumn, or IfcMember)

Wall (IfcWallStandardCase + IfcBuildingElementPart)

Wall End Cap (IfcCovering)

Window (IfcWindow)

Furniture and fixtures

Base Cabinet (IfcFurnishingElement)

Bath-Shower (IfcFlowTerminal)

Ceiling Grid (IfcCovering)

Circular Stair (IfcFurnishingElement)

Clothes Rod (IfcFurnishingElement)

Compartment Sink (IfcFlowTerminal)

Counter Top (IfcFurnishingElement)

Custom Cabinet (IfcFurnishingElement)

Desk (IfcFurnishingElement)

Fireplace (IfcDistributionFlowElement)

Grab Bars (IfcRailing)

Handrail (IfcRailing)

Railing/Fence (IfcRailing)

Seating Section (IfcFurnishingElement)

Shelving Unit (IfcFurnishingElement)

Table (IfcFurnishingElement)

Table and Chairs (IfcFurnishingElement)

Toilet Stall (IfcFlowTerminal + IfcWallStandardCase + IfcBuildingElementProxy + IfcDoor)

Utility Cabinet (IfcFurnishingElement)

Wall Cabinet (IfcFurnishingElement)

Workstation Counter (IfcFurnishingElement)

Workstation Overhead (IfcFurnishingElement)

Workstation Panel (IfcFurnishingElement)

Workstation Pedestal (IfcFurnishingElement)


Break Line (IfcAnnotation)

Dimension (IfcAnnotation)

Grid Line (IfcGridAxis)

Grid (IfcGrid)

Grid - Polar (IfcGrid)

Grid - Rectangular (IfcGrid)

Line (IfcAnnotation)

North Arrow (IfcAnnotation)

Slope Dimension (IfcAnnotation)


Comm Device (IfcDistributionFlowElement)

HVAC Damper (IfcDistributionFlowElement)

HVAC Diffuser (IfcDistributionFlowElement)

HVAC Elbow Duct (IfcDistributionFlowElement)

HVAC Flex Duct (IfcDistributionFlowElement)

HVAC Outlet (IfcDistributionFlowElement)

HVAC Splitter (IfcDistributionFlowElement)

HVAC Straight Duct (IfcDistributionFlowElement)

HVAC Transition (IfcDistributionFlowElement)

HVAC Vertical Duct (IfcDistributionFlowElement)

HVAC Vertical Elbow (IfcDistributionFlowElement)

Incandescent Fixture (IfcFlowTerminal)

Piping (IfcDistributionFlowElement)

Piping Connection (IfcDistributionFlowElement)

Piping Run (IfcDistributionFlowElement)

Receptacle (IfcDistributionFlowElement)

Switch (IfcDistributionFlowElement)


Angle - 3D (IfcMember or IfcBeam)

Bulb Flat - 3D (IfcBeam)

Channel - 3D (IfcMember)

Hole - Drilled - 3D (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

Hole - Tapped - 3D (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

I-Beam - 3D (IfcBeam)

Rectangular Tubing - 3D (IfcMember)

Round Tubing - 3D (IfcMember)

Square Tubing - 3D (IfcMember)

Tee - 3D (IfcMember)

Wide Flange - 3D (IfcMember)

Z-Section - 3D (IfcMember)


Acorn Nut - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Carriage Bolt - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Clevis Pin - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Cotter Pin - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Dowel Pin - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Eye Bolt - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Hex Bolt - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Hex Cap Nut - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

J-Bolt - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Knurled Thumb Nut - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Lag Screw - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Parallel Pin - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Retaining Ring - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Retaining Washer - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Rivet - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Sheet Metal Screw - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Swing Bolt - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Swing Eye Bolt - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Taper Pin - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

T-Bolt - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Thumb Screw - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Tubular Rivet - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

U-Bolt - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Wing Nut - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)

Wood Screw - 3D (IfcMechanicalFastener)


Braceworks Custom Truss Cross (IfcMember)

Blended Screen (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

Blended Projector (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

Curved Truss (IfcFMember)

Cable (IfcFlowSegment)

Hoist (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

Instrument Summary (IfcAnnotation)

LED Screen (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

Lighting Device (IfcFlowTerminal)

Lighting Pipe (IfcFlowSegment)

Lighting Pipe Ladder (IfcFlowSegment)

Light Position (IfcFlowTerminal)

Rope and Stanchion (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

Soft Goods (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

Speaker (IfcFlowTerminal)

Speaker Array (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

Stage Deck (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

Stage Lift (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

Stage Plug (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

Stage Ramp (IfcRamp)

Stage Steps (IfcStair)

Straight Truss (IfcMember)

Television (IfcBuildingElementProxy)

Truss (IfcMember)

Video Screen (IfcBuildingElementProxy)


RenderMall Plant (IfcBuildingElementProxy)



For other applications to properly identify each object in your exported IFC file, you’ll need to customize some of these default attachments, and also add attachments to objects that don’t have them, such as symbol definitions and third-party plug-in objects. When you set up a project, use the Data Manager command to set up mapping schemes to automatically attach the proper IFC fields to specific types of objects when they are created, and to map other data (such as Vectorworks parameters or record format fields) to IFC fields as needed. Finally, use the Data tab of the Object Info palette (or the IFC Data command) to enter missing data and make adjustments to individual objects.


When an IFC file is imported into a Vectorworks file, IfcSpace objects are translated into the corresponding Vectorworks Space object. However, all other objects are imported into the Vectorworks file as a plug-in object called an “IFC Entity.” The semantic definition of the IFC entity—IfcColumn, IfcWall, IfcWindow, for example—is maintained and displayed. Like a group or symbol, an IFC entity can contain an arbitrary collection of geometry, usually generic or constructive solid (CSG), but like a plug-in object, it can be inserted into walls and has sets of data and properties attached. With this generalized import capability, the Vectorworks program can import any kind of object supported by the IFC data standard.

You can exclude specific stories, elements, property sets, or (for IFC4 only) quantity sets from the import if needed. Additionally, you can customize the names of stories and classes that are assigned to imported elements.

For more information about BIM and IFC support in Vectorworks, visit the Vectorworks website.

Workflow: IFC export

Assigning IFC data to objects

Assigning IFC data to zones, systems, and groups

Viewing and editing IFC data

Using the Data Manager

Creating IFC and COBie reports

Importing IFC files

Exporting IFC projects

Checking IFC models with Solibri

The BCF Manager palette


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