Design SuiteImporting IFC files



Import IFC

File > Import

An IFC project, including one that contains multiple buildings or large information sets, can be imported into a Vectorworks file. The units of the imported file are determined by the Vectorworks file. The presentation layers or CAD layers from an imported IFC file are assigned to Vectorworks classes. Each IFC building story is assigned to a Vectorworks story. The georeferenced information from the IFC file can be used to automatically georeference the Vectorworks file and import the geometry correctly into it.

Stories, elements, property sets, and (for IFC4 only) quantity sets, in the IFC file can be filtered during the import, to remove irrelevant objects and unnecessary data. Filtering an import can significantly lower the file size, making both the import process and subsequent collaboration more efficient.

Create a reference to the original IFC file if the original file may change, and you want to keep the imported pages up to date. See "IFC references" below for more information about referencing.

To import an IFC file:

Select the command.

Alternatively, click the file to import and drag it into an open Vectorworks file.

Select the .ifc, .ifczip, or .ifcxml file to open, and click Open.

The Select IFC Stories and Elements dialog box opens.

At the top of the dialog box, select the specific data to import. Choose whether to filter the view by stories, elements, or property sets. Click the column to the left of a row to include or exclude it during the import. A row with a check mark will be included; a row with no mark will be excluded. A row with a dash contains a combination of items to include and exclude.

Stories: Lists all IFC elements in the file by story. You can exclude a story and all its associated elements from the import, or click the disclosure arrow and select which elements within the story to exclude.

Elements: Lists all IFC elements in the file. You can exclude all elements of a certain type from the import, regardless of story.

Property sets: Lists all IFC standard, custom, and (for IFC4 only) quantity, property sets in the file. You can exclude an entire category of property sets from the import, or click the disclosure arrow and select which property sets within the category to exclude.

To customize the mapping of IFC presentation layers to Vectorworks classes and IFC stories to Vectorworks stories, click Classes and Stories Mapping. See Mapping to classes and stories.

At the bottom of the Select IFC Stories and Elements dialog box, georefrerencing and file referencing options are available.

Click to show/hide the parameters.Click to show/hide the parameters.




When the IFC file to import contains georeferenced geometry, specify how to set the coordinate system. See Specifying document georeferencing.

Use the document's coordinate system

Imports and projects the geometry using the coordinate system settings that were already set for the document.

Use the IFC file's coordinate system

Uses the coordinate system from the imported file; select Set the document’s coordinate system to match

Set the document's coordinate system to match

If selecting a different coordinate system for the import, select this option to keep the layers and document using the same coordinate system.


References the original IFC file (master file), so that the imported IFC objects can be updated when the master file changes.

Absolute path

Stores the absolute file path of the master file. Select this option when the location of the master file will not change in the future, or if the master file is on another volume.

Path relative to current document

Stores the file path of the master file relative to the target Vectorworks file; this option is available only if the master file is on the same volume as the Vectorworks file. Select this option if the target file and the master file may be moved to another volume in the future.

If you’re using server-based project sharing, and the master file is not on the same volume as the Project Sharing Server, you’ll be prompted to upload the file to the server’s project folder.

The Source File path displays either an absolute or relative path, depending on the selection.

Save referenced cache to disk

Saves copies of the referenced IFC objects in the target Vectorworks file; if deselected, the target file is smaller, and the IFC objects are automatically updated when the target file is opened

Automatically update reference during file open

Updates the IFC objects from the master file each time this target file is opened, if the IFC objects are out of date

Click OK to start the import. If the file has syntax errors that prevent import, an alert displays. When the import is complete, a list of the items that were successfully imported displays. Details about errors such as geometry problems or missing references are also listed. Click Save Report to save the report to a text file.

Mapping to classes and stories

By default, the IFC presentation layers and stories are imported into Vectorworks with a simple "IFC-" prefix added to the existing name. If desired, you can customize the prefix, or you can create a detailed mapping to assign each imported item to a specific class or story in the Vectorworks file.

During the import process, click the Classes and Stories Mapping button to open the IFC Import Classes and Stories Mapping dialog box. 

This dialog box has specialized functions to select and edit its list items; see List box functionality and List filters and search boxes.

Click to show/hide the parameters.Click to show/hide the parameters.



Classes/Stories Settings

Lists saved mapping sets that can be used during import. The saved sets for classes and stories are maintained separately; the sets available depend on whether the Classes Mapping or Stories Mapping tab is selected.

See Using saved sets to save and apply saved settings.

Classes Mapping

Specifies how presentation layer names in the IFC file will be mapped to Vectorworks class names

Use prefix

Creates class names for imported elements by adding the specified Classes Prefix to the IFC presentation layer name. If desired, use dashes to create a hierarchical structure. Elements that have no presentation layer are assigned to the class "<classes prefix>None."

Use detailed mapping

Creates class names according to the Criteria-Based Mappings you specify. If none of the criteria apply to an imported element, a class is assigned according to the element's IFC presentation layer, as listed in the Fixed Mappings. 

Criteria-Based Mappings



Opens the IFC Import - Criteria Mapping dialog box to specify criteria for assigning imported elements to classes. To build the criteria statement, click each column of row 1 and select from the options available, or enter a field value. Click Add to add rows as needed. The criteria rows are tested and executed in order during import.

For example, to assign all internal doors to the same class, the criteria statement might look like this:

IFC Entity is IfcDoor AND Pset_DoorCommon.IsExternal is not TRUE

Click OK to close the dialog box, and the criteria statement displays in the mapping list. Then click the Vectorworks Class column and select an existing class from the list, or select New to open the New Class dialog box and create or import a class (see Creating classes).


Removes the selected row from the mapping criteria

Fixed Mappings

These mappings are used when an imported element doesn't match any of the criteria-based mappings. To map a layer, click the Vectorworks Class column and select an existing class from the list, or select New to open the New Class dialog box and create or import a class (see Creating classes). If the value is <Unchanged>, the IFC presentation layer name is used (or "None" if the element has no presentation layer). 

Stories Mapping

Specifies how story names in the IFC file will be mapped to Vectorworks story names

Use prefix

Creates story names for imported elements by adding the specified Stories Prefix to the IFC story name. Elements that have no story are assigned to the story "<stories prefix>No Story."

Use detailed mapping

To map an IFC story, click the Vectorworks Story column and select an existing story from the list, or select New to open the New Story dialog box (see Creating and managing stories). If the value is <Unchanged>, the IFC story name is used. If desired, enter an Elevation Offset to apply to the original IFC story elevation.

IFC references

You can choose to reference an IFC file, instead of importing the objects directly. This allows you to easily update the imported objects when the original file changes. It also prevents the creation of additional classes, layers, and resources.

Create the reference during the import process, or create a new reference from the Organization dialog box. By default, the IFC file is imported as an IFC - Referenced object, which is actually a design layer viewport on one layer. Optionally, you can choose the Layer import setting in the Organization dialog box to import each story as a referenced design layer instead.

See Concept: Workgroups and referencing for more information about creating and using references.

If the reference was imported as a design layer viewport, you can edit the viewport as follows (also see Modifying viewports):

From the Object Info palette, edit the classes and layers shown in the viewport.

Right-click on the viewport and select the Edit Crop command to edit the viewport crop.

IFC overview

Assigning IFC data to objects

Exporting IFC projects

Simplifying mesh objects


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