Title:
WORKSPACE DIVIDING SYSTEM WITH INTEGRATED SEATING SYSTEM
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system for dividing a workspace includes a wall designed to divide the workspace into a workspace and an area outside of the workspace. The wall includes a variety of features such as a seat back located in the workspace and positioned proximate to and spaced from the wall and configured to form a space between the seat back and the wall to accommodate an accessory device.



Inventors:
Ludwig, James (Grand Rapids, MI, US)
Hamilton, John (Grand Rapids, MI, US)
Van Alphen, Daniel (Berlin, DE)
Application Number:
11/696388
Publication Date:
01/24/2008
Filing Date:
04/04/2007
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
297/302.1
International Classes:
E04G11/04
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DEMUREN, BABAJIDE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
QUARLES & BRADY LLP (411 E. WISCONSIN AVENUE, SUITE 2040, MILWAUKEE, WI, 53202-4497, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A workspace dividing system comprising: a wall having a top, bottom, and two sides configured to divide an area into a workspace and an area outside of the workspace; a seat back located in the workspace and positioned proximate to and spaced from the wall and configured to form a space between the seat back and the wall to accommodate an accessory device.

2. The workspace dividing system of claim 1 further comprising a shield extending vertically from the top of the wall and horizontally into the workspace and wherein the accessory device includes display elements configured to project a display onto the shield.

3. The workspace dividing system of claim 1 further comprising a visual shield extending from the top of the wall and wherein a relative juxtaposition of the wall and seat back allows a height of the wall to be less than an average standing height of an individual without the visual shield interfering with individuals of average height standing under the visual shield.

4. The workspace dividing system of claim 1 further comprising: a sheet of metal configured to be self supporting; a layer of cushioning material configured to encase the sheet of metal to form a composite construction element that is free of sharp edges; and wherein a composite construction element is configured to be mounted to the wall.

5. The workspace dividing system of claim 4 wherein the composite construction element forms a shield extending vertically from the top of the wall and horizontally into the workspace and wherein accessory device includes display elements configured to project a display onto the composite construction element.

6. The workspace dividing system of claim 5 wherein the display elements include projectors configured to project a display on the composite construction element.

7. The workspace dividing system of claim 4 wherein the composite construction element is further configured to form a return shield extending below a bench extending from the wall into the workspace and supporting the seat back to mirror the composite construction element extending from the top of the wall.

8. The workspace dividing system of claim 4 wherein the composite construction element forms a visual shield extending from the top of the wall and wherein a relative juxtaposition of the wall and the seat back allows a height of the wall to be less than an average standing height of an individual without the composite construction element interfering with individuals of average height standing under the composite construction element.

9. The workspace dividing system of claim 1 further comprising a visual shield extending from the top of the wall and wherein a relative juxtaposition of the wall and seat back allows a height of the wall to be less than an average standing height of an individual without the visual shield with individuals of average height standing under the visual shield.

10. The workspace dividing system of claim 1 further comprising: a slit extending horizontally across at least a portion of the wall at a level designed to provide individuals seated within the workspace with a constant view of an area outside of the workspace at both an immediate periphery of the wall as well as areas at a distance from the wall; and wherein the slit includes dimensions configured to provide individuals located in the area outside of the workspace with a view into the workspace when at a distance from the wall and restricts individuals located in the area outside of the workspace from views into the workspace when in close proximity to the wall.

11. A system comprising: a wall system arranged in a non-rectangular pattern and having vertically, flat interior walls configured to divide an area into a workspace and an area outside of the workspace; a seat extending from the wall system that supports a seat back positioned proximate to and extending substantially parallel to the wall to focus individuals toward a common region within the workspace.

12. The system of claim 11 wherein the seat back is spaced from the interior walls to form a space between the seat back and the interior walls configured to accommodate at least one of lights and display elements.

13. The system of claim 12 further comprising a shield extending from a top of the wall system at an angle into the workspace and wherein the display elements are configured to project a display from the space onto the shield extending there above.

14. The system of claim 13 further comprising a return shield extending under the seat to mirror the shield extending from the top of the wall system.

15. The system of claim 14 wherein the wall system is configured to engage another wall system to at least partially enclose the workspace and wherein the shield and return shield are configured to align with shields extending from the another wall system to form continuous shields extending from a top and a bottom of the wall systems.

16. The system of claim 11 further comprising at least one leg extending from the seat to solely support the seat, seat back, and walls.

17. The system of claim 16 further comprising another wall system having vertically, flat interior walls and a seat extending from the interior walls that support a seat back positioned proximate to and extending substantially parallel to the interior walls to focus individuals toward a common region within the workspace and wherein the another wall system is configured to form a workspace enclosure with the wall system.

18. The system of claim 17 wherein the another wall system includes at least one leg extending from the seat to solely support the seat, seat back, and another wall system and wherein, when the wall system and the another wall system are engaged to form the workspace enclosure, the at least one leg extends from the seat supporting the walls and the at least one leg extending from the seat supporting the another wall system, together, are capable of supporting the workspace enclosure in an upright position.

19. The system of claim 17 wherein the workspace enclosure forms a semi-circle.

20. The system of claim 11 further comprising: a slit extending horizontally across at least a portion of the wall system at a level designed to provide individuals seated within the workspace with a constant view of the area outside of the workspace at both an immediate periphery of the around the wall system as well as areas at a distance from the wall system; and wherein the slit includes dimensions configured to provide individuals located in the area outside of the workspace with a view into the workspace when at a distance from the wall system and restrict individuals located in the area outside of the workspace from views into the workspace when in close proximity to the wall system.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

This application is based on provisional application 60/744,320 filed Apr. 5, 2006 entitled “Workspace Dividing System” and claims the benefit thereof.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is related to workspace dividing systems and, more particularly, to a modular workspace dividing system for use in constructing open concept office structures.

In modern work environments it is often desirable to create “non-traditional” offices, conference rooms, and the like. That is, it is often economically advantageous and aesthetically appealing to remodel buildings not originally designed to house traditional office space. For example, it is increasingly common to remodel large industrial buildings such as factories or warehouses to accept “open-concept” office designs. In these cases, open-concept office designs are often employed in order to make non-traditional office spaces more amenable to workflows and business procedures.

One primary component of open-concept office designs is the use of divider systems. That is, while it is desirable and economically efficient to have numerous workstations collocated within a large open room, it is still necessary to provide barriers between workspaces and to provide individuals with a sense of personal space. In this regard, open-concept office designs must constantly balance the dichotomy created by the advantages to having large, open work environments shared by many individuals and the desire for and advantages provided by creating personal space within a work environment.

Therefore, it would be desirable to have a system and method for creating structures within an open-concept office that by create personal space within a work environment while still providing the feel, look, and various advantages provided by large, open work environments that can be shared by many individuals.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention overcomes the aforementioned drawbacks by providing a divider or wall system that is flexible and modular. Each wall includes numerous features that are readily adaptable to non-traditional offices and aid in creating structures, such as meeting or conference rooms, within open concept office spaces.

In accordance with one aspect of the invention, a wall system for dividing a workspace is disclosed that includes a wall designed to divide an area into a workspace and an area outside of the workspace. The wall includes a slit extending horizontally across at least a portion of the wall at a level designed to provide individuals seated within the workspace with a constant view of the area outside of the workspace at both an immediate periphery of the wall as well as areas at a distance from the wall. Furthermore, the slit includes dimensions configured to provide individuals located in the area outside of the workspace with a view into the workspace when at a distance from the wall and restrict individuals located in the area outside of the workspace from views into the workspace when in close proximity to the wall.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a wall construction element is disclosed that includes a sheet of metal configured to be self supporting and a layer of cushioning material configured to encase the sheet of metal to form a composite construction element that is free of sharp edges. The composite construction element is configured to be mounted to a wall having a top, bottom, and two sides configured to divide an area into a workspace and an area outside of the workspace.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the invention, a system is disclosed that includes a wall having a top, bottom, and two sides configured to divide an area into a workspace and an area outside of the workspace. A visual shield is included that extends from the top of the wall at an angle away from the wall to provide visual privacy to individuals located within the workspace.

In accordance with still another aspect of the invention, a divider system is disclosed that includes a wall having a top, bottom, and two sides configured to divide an area into a workspace and an area outside of the workspace. A visual shield extends from the top of the wall at an angle away from the wall to provide visual privacy to individuals located within the workspace.

In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, a divider system is disclosed that includes a wall having a top, bottom, and two sides configured to divide an area into a workspace and an area outside of the workspace. A seat back is located in the workspace and is positioned proximate to and spaced from the wall. Accordingly, a space is formed between the seat back and the wall to accommodate at least one of lights and display elements.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a divider system is disclosed that includes a round wall having a vertically, flat interior wall configured to divide an area into a workspace and an area outside of the workspace. A seat extends from the interior wall that supports a seat back positioned proximate to and extending substantially parallel to the interior wall to focus individuals toward a common point within the workspace.

In accordance with an additional aspect of the invention, a workspace divider system is disclosed that includes a wall including vertical wall portions and angled shield portions configured to divide an area into a workspace and an area outside of the workspace. Furthermore, the vertical wall portions and angled shield portions are dimensioned so that a person of average height, located in the area outside of the workspace, cannot see into the workspace but can see over the wall.

In accordance with one further aspect of the invention, a wall is disclosed that includes a top, bottom, and two sides configured to divide a workspace into a workspace and an area outside of the workspace. The wall is at least partially formed of a meltable material that, when positioned proximate to another wall, can be melted and smoothed to at least reduce an appearance of seams between the wall and the another wall.

In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, an open concept meeting room is disclosed that includes a plurality of walls configured to divide an area into a workspace and an area outside of the workspace and a bench extending from the plurality of walls into the workspace to focus individuals seated on the bench toward a common point within the workspace. A plurality of legs extends from the bench to support the plurality of walls through the bench. Furthermore, a first shield extends up from a top of the plurality of walls and inward into the workspace to provide visual privacy to the workspace while a second shield extends down from a bottom of the plurality of walls and inward under the bench to mirror an appearance of the first shield.

Various other features of the present invention will be made apparent from the following detailed description and the drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an open concept meeting room in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a plan view of the open concept meeting room of FIG. 1;

FIG. 3a is a cross-sectional view of a wall assembled of FIGS. 1 and 2;

FIG. 3b is a cross-sectional view of a wall designed for use in a variety of workspace areas;

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view of a wall including a lighting or display device;

FIG. 5 is a bottom plan view of the open concept meeting room of FIG. 3a;

FIG. 6 is a close-up view of a seam formed between walls assembled into the open concept meeting room of FIG. 2;

FIG. 7 is a plan view of a plurality of walls arranged into another open concept meeting room;

FIG. 8 is a plan view of a plurality of walls arranged into another open concept meeting room;

FIG. 9 is a front elevational view of a single wall designed to be incorporated into traditional wall systems; and

FIG. 10 is a cross-sectional view of a composite construction element designed for use in the wall systems of FIGS. 1-10.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, an open-concept office meeting or conference room 10 includes a plurality of walls 12, 14, 16. The walls 12, 14, 16 break the general workspace into an workspace 18 and an area 20 outside of the workspace 18. Extending horizontally from an interior wall of each wall 12, 14, 16 is a bench or seat 22, 24, 26, beneath which extends a plurality of legs, generally designated 28. Accordingly, the plurality of legs 28 supports the walls 12, 14, 16 through the seats 22, 24, 26. Extending from a top portion of each wall 12, 14, 16 are respective shields 30, 32, 34, which are mirrored by similar shields 36, 38, 40 that extend from a bottom of each wall 12, 14, 16 under each seat 22, 24, 26 and into the workspace 18.

Formed in each of the walls 12, 14, 16 and extending horizontally thereacross are a plurality of aligned slits 42, 44, 46. The slits 42, 44, 46 extend from the area 20 outside of the workspace 18 through the walls 12, 14, 16 and into the workspace 18. The slits 42, 44, 46 are positioned at a vertical height in the walls 12, 14, 16 (for example, at approximately four feet) designed to provide individual seats within the workspace 18 with a constant line of sight through the slits 42, 44, 46 and provide a view of the area 20 outside of the workspace 18 at both an immediate periphery 50 about the walls 12, 14, 16 as well as areas at a distance 52 from the walls 12, 14, 16. According to one embodiment, the slits 42, 44, 46 have a vertical height of greater than 1 inch but less than 4 inches. Furthermore, as will be explained, the slits 42, 44, 46 and walls 12, 14, 16 include dimensions configured to provide individuals in the area 20 outside of the workspace 18 located at a distance 52 from the walls 12, 14, 16 with a view into the workspace 18, but restrict individuals located at a close proximity 50 to the walls 12, 14, 16 from viewing the workspace 18 so as to provide those located in the workspace 18 with visual privacy.

Similarly, the shields 30, 32, 34 provide visual privacy to individuals seated within the workspace 18 by restricting a line of sight 54 from the area 20 outside of the workspace 18 into the workspace 18, even when an individual of average height is standing in close proximity to the walls 12, 14, 16. That is, while it is contemplated and, in some applications even preferred, that the walls 12, 14, 16 extend above the legs 28 to a total height of less than that of an average individual's standing height (for example, between four and five feet), as will be described with respect to FIGS. 3 and 6, the dimensions and configuration of the shields 30, 32, 34 restrict the line of sight 54 from an individual of average height attempting to view the workspace 18. However, at this same time, the overall height of the legs 28, walls 12, 14, 16, and shields 30, 32, 34 is such that a line of sight 56 extending over the conference room 10 is readily available to an individual of average height. It should be noted that the conference room 10 includes a highly aesthetic appearance created by multiple lines of symmetry included in the design. For example, the walls 12, 14, 16 include an arc or bow 58 extending vertically along the exterior surface of the walls 12, 14, 16 where apex 60 of the bow 58 is located in a proximate midpoint of the vertical rise of the walls 12, 14, 16. Furthermore, the shields 30, 32, 24 extending vertically from the walls 12, 14, 16 are mirrored by the return shields 36, 38, 40 extending below each wall 12, 14,16.

As previously described, the vertically extending shields 30, 32, 34 provide visual privacy to individuals seated within the workspace 18 and, as will be described, also provide some auditory separation between the workspace 18 and the area 20 outside of the workspace 18. On the other hand, the downwardly extending return shields 36, 38, 40 not only mirror the vertically extending shields 30, 32, 34 and provide aesthetically appealing symmetry in the overall design of the conference room 10, but also allow for a reduced amount of materials to be used in the walls 12, 14, 16 while still providing the feeling of being fully enclosed to individuals located within the workspace 18. In this regard, significant manufacturing and materials cost savings can be realized over traditional wall systems that include walls that extend completely to the floor. That is, the walls 12, 14, 16 are suspended above the floor through a combination of the plurality of legs 18 and the seats 20, 24, 26, which together support the walls 12, 14, 16.

Referring now to FIG. 2, a plan view of the meeting room 10 further illustrates the symmetrical appearance formed by the rounded design of the meeting room 10. As also viewable from above, in accordance with one embodiment, the seats 22, 24, 26 extend beyond the shields 30, 32, 34 such that the majority of the workspace 18 is not enclosed from above. Furthermore, as will be described, the vertical and horizontal extent of the shields 30, 32, 34 is less than the horizontal extent of the seats 22, 24, 26. This design allows the walls 12, 14, 16 to have a reduced height while still presenting individuals located within the workspace 18 with a feeling of privacy from the area 20 outside of the workspace 18.

By arranging the seats 22, 24, 26 against the walls 12, 14, 16 (as opposed to arranging desks and other work surfaces against a wall, as in traditional partitioned workspaces), individuals seated in the workspace 18 are focused toward a common point 62 located at the center of the workspace 18 (as opposed to being focused toward one of the walls). As such, the meeting room 10 inherently prepares individuals entering the workspace 18 for collaborative meetings. As will be described below, additional display or communication devices can be integrated into the meeting room 10 in a manner so as to maintain the collaborative focus of the meeting room 10.

Referring now to FIG. 3a, a cross section of one of the walls 16 shows that extending up from the seat 26 is a seat back 64. It should be noted that the seat back 64 is displaced from the wall 16 such that a space 66 is formed between the seat back 64 and the wall 16. As shown in FIG. 4, this space 66 may be filled with lighting or display elements 68 designed cast ambient light or projection displays onto the shield 34 extending above the wall 16. In this regard, the shield 34 not only serves as a visual shield but also a projection surface on which to display and review materials to be discussed within the meeting room 10. Furthermore, by projecting from various points around the meeting room 10, the visual shield 34 becomes an active surface that is integrated into the meeting room 10. In this regard, individuals seated within the workspace 18 can easily view and review materials displayed on the shield 34 without being forced to turn substantially from the common focus point 62 of FIG. 2. Accordingly, the meeting room 10 further facilitates open and continuous meetings and conversations between individuals within the workspace 18.

Referring again to FIG. 3a, as discussed above, the slit 46 and wall 16 include dimensions configured to provide individuals in the area 20 outside of the workspace 18 located at a distance 52 from the wall 16 with a view into the workspace 18, but restrict individuals located at a close proximity 50 to the wall 16 from viewing the workspace 18. In this regard, the wall 16 and the shield 34 work in concert to provide visual privacy to individuals located in the workspace 18. That is, by including the shields 30, 32, 34, the walls 12, 14, 16 may have a height of less than 4½ feet and, when a visual shield having a vertical rise of less than 2½ feet is arranged to extend therefrom, the privacy provided by the combined configuration is greater than a structure having a height of 7 feet because the horizontal run of the shields 30, 32, 34 extending into the workspace 18 blocks visual lines originating above a height of, for example, 7 feet.

While these dimensions are exemplary for particular embodiments, it is contemplated that other arrangements may facilitate reduced heights while still providing the above-described privacy features. For example, referring now to FIG. 3b, the features discussed above can be extended to a more generalized wall system by removing the seat 26 and seat back 64 described with respect to FIG. 3a. According to this arrangement, an individual may be seated so as to face the wall 16. In this regard, the overall height of the wall 16 and shield 34 may be reduced while still providing the individual seated in the workspace 18 and proximate to the wall 16 with the privacy from individuals located in the area outside 20 of the workspace 18 at a distance from the wall 16. Furthermore, even with reduced dimensions, sight lines 71 are available to the individual located in the workspace 18 so that a view of the area outside 20 of the workspace 18 is provided to the individual located in the workspace while an individual located in an area 50 near the wall 16 cannot see into the workspace 18. That is, since the individual can be seated proximate to and facing the wall 16, a consistent view of areas proximate to 50 as well as at a distance from 52 the wall 16 is available. On the other hand, even when the heights of the wall 16 and shield 24 are reduced, only individuals located at a distance 52 from the wall 16 can see through the slit 46.

Referring again to FIG. 3a, not only does the shield 34 form a visual barrier to provide privacy and intimacy to individuals located within the workspace 18, though secondary in nature, the shield 34 also acts as an acoustic barrier between individuals in the area 20 outside of the workspace 18 and individuals located in the workspace 18. In fact, due to the vertical rise and horizontal run of the shield 34 above the wall 16 and into the workspace 18, the shield also serves to focus sounds produced within the workspace 18 toward the central point 62 of FIG. 2 as well as to deflect sounds produced within the area 20 outside of the workspace 18 from interfering with conversations held within the workspace 18.

The seat 26 and wall 16 extending therefrom are supported by the leg 28 positioned inwardly of the return shield 40. It is contemplated that one wall 16 and associated seat 26 may be supported by as few as one leg 28. In this regard, one wall 16, seat 26, and leg 28 will be unable to be self-supporting in the upright position. However, when combined with one or more additional walls 12, 14, such as shown in FIG. 2, the walls 12, 14, 16 are readily capable of remaining upright.

Alternatively, each wall 12, 14, 16 and respective seats 22, 24, 26 may be supported by additional legs 70 (as shown in phantom). In this regard, as shown in FIG. 5, the legs 28, 70 may be staggered so that each individual wall 12, 14, 16 is capable of self support and, when combined with other wall segments, the overall meeting room 10 is made further robust.

Referring now to FIG. 6, it is contemplated that the walls 12, 14, 16 may be joined in a variety of different ways. For example, adjacent seats 24, 26 may be joined by way of bolts 72 or similar fasteners. Furthermore, exterior walls 74 of adjacent walls 14, 16 may be joined by heating the walls 14, 16 until the exteriors 74 become malleable and then smoothed to remove the appearance of any junction 76 between the walls 14, 16. Accordingly, the symmetric appearance of the meeting room 10 is further increased since, when viewed from the area 20 outside of the workspace 18, the walls 12, 14, 16 appear as one continuous rounded plane.

In particular, it is contemplated that the exteriors 74 of the walls may be formed from methyl methacrylate resin or similar substances that become malleable when exposed to a given duration of heating. Accordingly, in a manner similar to techniques used for creating a continuous countertop using methyl methacrylate resin or other substances such as Corian, seams between adjoining sections can be removed. Corian is a registered trademark of Du Pont De Nemours and Co. Corp. of Delaware.

Referring now to FIG. 7, a composite construction element 77 for use in constructing a wall system includes an interior formed from a rigid, self-supporting material, for example sheet metal 78, is surrounded by a soft padding, for example felt 80. The composite construction element 77 may be utilized to for a variety of components of traditional wall systems as well as the meeting room or similar open-concept structures described above. For example, the composite construction element 77, by including a rigid interior formed, for example, of sheet metal 78, is self-supporting. Accordingly, the composite construction element may be used to create the shields 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40 (FIG. 1). In this regard, the felt linings 80 provide additional sound insulation. Similarly, the composite construction element 77 may be used to line an interior of the walls 12, 14,16.

Referring now to FIG. 9, the composite construction element 77 may be used to form an insert 82 engaged with or skin 84 formed over a traditional wall 86. Furthermore, the composite construction element 77 may be used to form various visual shields 88 or the like that are designed to extend from the traditional wall 86.

Referring now to FIGS. 8-10, it is contemplated that any of the features or designs described above may be incorporated into various wall designs including traditional walls (such as described with respect to FIG. 8) and may be utilized to create a meeting room having any of a wide variety of shapes and sizes without deviating from the spirit of the invention. For example, as shown in FIG. 9, a slit 90, as described above with respect to FIGS. 1-6, may be incorporated into the traditional wall 86. Similarly, leg structures, benches, and the like may also be incorporated into the traditional wall 86.

In this regard, any of the features described above may be incorporated into a wall system that is designed to form a meeting room of virtually any size or shape. For example, as shown in FIG. 9, a meeting room 92 having a hexagonal shape may be formed. Similarly, as shown in FIG. 10, a meeting room 94 having a rectangular shape may be formed. In this regard, a meeting room may be formed in virtually any shape, for example, a trapezoid, a pentagon, a hexagon, a heptagon, an octagon, and the like. That is, the shape of the meeting room does not limit the ability to incorporate the above-described features such as a slit, visual privacy shield, display elements, and the like.

Therefore, the above-described invention provides a wall system that is capable of taking creating personal space within a work environment while still providing the feel, look, and various advantages provided by large, open work environments that can be shared by many individuals.

It is specifically intended that the present invention not be limited to the embodiments and illustrations contained herein, but include modified forms of those embodiments including portions of the embodiments and combinations of elements of different embodiments as come within the scope of the following claims.