Title:
Panel-based modular wall system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The present invention is directed to a method and apparatus for improving a modular wall system having a first module and a second module. Each module has a vertical support component having vertical surface edge. The vertical support component edges are positioned in vertical abutting relationship. The improvement includes providing each module's vertical support component edge with a vertical support component slot. The vertical support component slots are in registry and held together by a generally U-shaped connector clip having a base and a pair of legs extending from base. The clip legs are inserted through the vertical support component slots for compressively engaging the vertical support component edges. The first module or second module may carry a wall panel, a window assembly, or a door assembly.



Inventors:
Beavers, Dale W. (Powell, OH, US)
Alexander, Joseph S. (Blacklick, OH, US)
Shlayn, Doris (Westerville, OH, US)
Application Number:
10/840322
Publication Date:
12/23/2004
Filing Date:
05/06/2004
Assignee:
BEAVERS DALE W.
ALEXANDER JOSEPH S.
SHLAYN DORIS
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/782.1
International Classes:
E04B2/74; E04B2/82; (IPC1-7): E04C2/34
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GILBERT, WILLIAM V
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Okuley Smith, LLC (COLUMBUS, OH, US)
Claims:
1. In a modular wall system comprising a first module having a first module panel extending horizontally to a first vertical support component having a first vertical surface edge and a second module having a second module panel extending horizontally to a second vertical support component having a second vertical support component edge, said first and second vertical support component edges being in vertical abutting relationship, the improvement which comprises: said first vertical support component edge having a first vertical support component slot; said second vertical support component having a second vertical support component slot; said first and second vertical support component slots being in registry; and a generally U-shaped connector clip having a base and a pair of legs extending from said base, said legs being inserted through said first and second vertical support component slots for compressively engaging said first and second vertical support component edges.

2. In a modular wall system comprising a first module having a first vertical support component with a first vertical surface edge and a second module having a second vertical support component with a second vertical support component edge, said first and second vertical support component edges being in vertical abutting relationship, the improvement which comprises: said first vertical support component edge having a first vertical support component slot; said second vertical support component having a second vertical support component slot; said first and second vertical support component slots being in registry; a generally U-shaped connector clip having a base and a pair of legs extending from said base, said legs being inserted through said first and second vertical support component slots for compressively engaging said first and second vertical support component edges; and one or more of said first module or said second module carrying one or more of a wall panel, a window assembly, or a door assembly.

3. A method for rapidly assembling a modular wall system comprising the steps of: providing first module having a first vertical support component with a first vertical surface edge; providing second module having a second vertical support component with a second vertical surface edge; positioning said first and second modules so that said first vertical surface edge and said second vertical surface edge are in vertical abutting relationship; registering said first vertical support component slot and said second vertical support component slot to form a registered slot pair; providing a generally U-shaped connector clip having a base and a pair of legs extending from said base; and inserting said legs of said connector clip into said registered slot pair.

4. In a modular wall system comprising a first module having a first module panel extending horizontally to a first vertical support component having a first vertical surface edge and a second module having a second module panel extending horizontally to a second vertical support component having a second vertical support component edge, the improvement for said first and second modules forming a corner, which comprises: a corner post having a first side and a second side, each said side having a vertical elongate slot; each said first and second vertical support component edge having a vertical support component slot, said first vertical support component slot being in registry with said first corner post slot to form a first registered slot pair, said second vertical support component slot being in registry with said second corner post to form a second registered slot pair; a first generally U-shaped connector clip having a base and a pair of legs extending from said base, said legs being inserted in said first registered slot pair; and a second generally U-shaped connector clip having a base and a pair of legs extending from said base, said legs being inserted in said second registered slot pair.

5. A method for forming a corner, which comprises the steps of: providing a first module having a first vertical support component having a first vertical support component surface with a first vertical support component edge having a slot; providing a second module having a second vertical support component having a second vertical support component surface with second vertical support component edge having an elongate slot; providing a corner post having a corner post first side and a corner post second side, each said corner post side having a vertical elongate slot; positioning said first module so that said first vertical support component surface is in abutting engagement with said first corner post side; positioning said second module so that said second vertical support component surface is in abutting engagement with said second corner post side; registering said first vertical support component slot with said corner post first side slot to form a first registered slot pair; registering said second vertical support component slot with said corner post second side slot to form a second registered slot pair; providing a first generally U-shaped connector clip having a base and a pair of legs extending from said base; providing a second generally U-shaped connector clip having a base and a pair of legs extending from said base; inserting said first connector clip into said first registered slot pair; and inserting said second connector clip into said second registered slot pair.

6. A horizontally adjustable wall module, comprising: A first vertical support component extending between a first vertical support component lower portion and a first vertical support component upper portion; A second vertical support component extending between a second vertical support component lower portion and a second vertical support component upper portion; an upper assembly including a first member extending generally perpendicularly from said first vertical support component upper portion and a second member attached to said second vertical support component and extending generally perpendicularly from said second support component upper portion, said first and second members being freely, slideably engageable with respect to one another; and an base assembly including a first base member extending generally perpendicularly from said first support component lower portion and a second base member attached to said second support component and extending generally perpendicularly from said second support component lower portion, said first and second base members being freely, slideably engageable with respect to one another to define a wall module horizontal length.

7. A wall connection assembly for connecting a wall module to an existing wall, said wall module having a module panel extending horizontally to a vertical support component having a vertical wall confronting surface, which comprises: a connector having a pair of vertical support component fastener legs, each vertical support component fastener leg having a slot, and at least one existing wall apertured leg spaced apart from said pair of vertical support component fastener legs; a pair of apertures extending through said vertical support component surface and in adjustable registry with said slots of said vertical support component legs; a pair of removable vertical support component fasteners insertable through said vertical support component fastener leg slots and said vertical support component surface apertures for securing said vertical support component legs to said vertical support component surface; and a removable existing wall fastener insertable through said existing wall apertured leg for securing said existing wall apertured leg to said existing wall.

8. A vertically adjustable wall module, comprising: a metal module frame assembly comprising a pair of oppositely disposed spaced apart vertical support components, each having an upper portion and a lower portion; a metal upper assembly disposed generally horizontally between said vertical support components and being vertically adjustable; a metal base assembly disposed generally horizontally between said vertical support component lower portions and being vertically adjustable; generally horizontal crown molding extending between said vertical support component upper portions; and a panel magnetically attached to said module frame.

9. A vertically adjustable wall module system of two adjacent wall modules, each module comprising: a module frame assembly comprising a pair of oppositely disposed spaced apart vertical support components, each having an upper portion and a lower portion; a upper assembly disposed generally horizontally between said vertical support components and being vertically adjustable; a base assembly disposed generally horizontally between said vertical support component lower portions and being vertically adjustable; and generally horizontal crown molding extending between said vertical support component upper portions, said crown molding being capable of concealing any height difference between said adjacent wall modules.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

[0001] This application claims priority to a provisional application, Ser. No. 60/468,512, filed May 7, 2003, the disclosure of which is expressly incorporated herein by reference.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH

[0002] Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0003] Within existing architectural structures, landlords and businesses increasingly desire to make functional and aesthetic changes to interior spaces without significantly altering the building in a permanent way. These changes are made to transform the appearance of existing walls or displays, to accommodate new technology, or to provide for more efficient use of space. In order to effectuate these changes, existing walls must be modified or an independent wall system inserted.

[0004] For example, in the banking industry, small branch banks are being installed in remote locations, such as grocery stores, malls and superstores. While the space required to accommodate a branch bank may be small, for example, simply the space required for an ATM, installation is complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. Because alterations are being made to an existing wall structure, a contractor or specialist must be hired. Existing wiring and plumbing must be located in order to avoid damage to these areas or to interface with the new equipment. Preparation of the space, including destruction of a portion of an existing wall, is noisy and disruptive and creates dirt and debris that may be a hazard to customers. As such, during the installation process either the entire store must be closed or a sufficient area around the work site roped off until completion. Given its complexity, installation is frequently a time-consuming process. Once completed, if problems arise, the contractor or specialist must be called. Further, the location cannot be removed without an even greater expenditure of time and money. Finally, the appearance of the branch bank, including artistry and advertising, cannot be easily changed.

[0005] In addition to wanting to make changes to existing wall structures, landlords and businesses frequently desire to “create space” by dividing large, open area into individual work spaces. In response to this need, a number of partition systems have been devised. In this regard, see U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,746,034 and 5,784,843. One type of partition system includes partial height partition panels detatchably interconnected. Another such partition system includes modular furniture wherein freestanding furniture units are positioned side-by-side with privacy screens utilized to create individual work areas. The success of these systems depends upon their flexibility and their ability to adapt to ever-changing space planning requirements. Additionally, these systems must be capable of providing necessary electrical, plumbing and telecommunications utilities to resulting workspaces. Structural integrity frequently is an issue with these partitions as they are interconnected to form a relatively complex system. Further, sturdiness of construction frequently must be balanced against mobility of the partition system.

[0006] U.S. Pat. No. 6,311,441 B1 discloses a wall system that meets varying functional requirements, is mobile and easily installed, yet also gives a user the capability of easily transforming its appearance.

[0007] The system disclosed in the '441 patent is formed with interconnected support modules which typically are about eight feet tall and formed in unitary fashion from sheet steel having a ferrous metal content to achieve magnetic responsiveness. These basic and robust structures incorporate vertical side support components which are spaced apart to define a forwardly open cavity surmounted by flat magnetically responsive panel support surfaces. Upper and lower utility channels are manufactured with the support modules for providing raceways for electrical and other utility lines extending along interconnected combinations of the wall defining module components. The support modules stand upon a floor somewhat independently and are capable of being retained in such standing vertical orientation by interconnecting them utilizing three or four bolt and wing nut assemblies. The lower, utility channel containing region of each module is configured to support a hand removable baseboard to provide easy access to continued utilities. Additionally, this lower region incorporates a channel-form upwardly opening panel lower support or platform.

[0008] A thin, decorative and typically flexible module panel is positioned against the forward facing panel support in a manner enclosing the noted cavity. Support of this panel is achieved initially by placing its lower edge upon the lower support or platform and erecting it into a vertical orientation such that the thin panel stands in structural compression upon its lower edge. The vertical orientation of this relatively large but thin panel is maintained by providing a magnetic interaction between the periphery of the rearward surface of the panel and the peripherally disposed forwardly facing magnetically responsive flat panel support surfaces. In this regard, relatively small attachment force is required to retain the verticality of the panels. To develop this magnetic coupling, polymeric strip magnets are adhesively fixed to the periphery of the rearward face of each panel. Advantageously, such magnetic coupling of the panels to the support modules permits their easy removal and replacement such that the decor developed with the panels easily is altered by the user. In effect, the wall modules are designed for future image revision. Additionally, because of their modularity, the modules themselves can be repositioned within a facility.

[0009] While such a module system is capable of establishing an artistically enhancing and structurally robust space defining periphery within the interior of a facility, improvements continue to be sought.

BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0010] The present invention addresses improvements to a wall system and modular wall components for establishing an artistically enhancing and structurally robust space defining periphery within the interior of a facility. The enhanced system includes a connection system, which replaces the former wing and nut assemblies that previously held together adjacent wall module components, to provide a more secure attachment of the modules resulting in a more structurally robust wall system. The combination of standard-sized wall modules with a unique horizontally expandable wall module reduces the necessity of customization experienced with the prior embodiment of the system. Specialized door supporting and window supporting modules also are provided to enable the wall system to make available the functional and aesthetic features of a typical office space. Another feature of the invention is the ability of the wall modules and resulting wall to provide a floor-to-ceiling structure, as with a convention wall, despite variations in the levelness of the facility's floor and/or ceiling. This feature is achieved through utilization of a leveling system and a vertically adjustable upper support assembly, along with application of specialized molding at the upper and lower portions of the wall modules. Where the system modules abut existing walls, a wall connector is employed which provides a secure connection with minimal damage to the existing wall.

[0011] One aspect of the invention is directed to an improvement for a modular wall system having a first module and a second module. Each module has a vertical support component having vertical surface edge. The vertical support component edges are positioned in vertical abutting relationship. The improvement includes providing each module's vertical support component edge with a vertical support component slot. The vertical support component slots are in registry and held together by a generally U-shaped connector clip having a base and a pair of legs extending from base. The clip legs are inserted through the vertical support component slots for compressively engaging the vertical support component edges. The first module or second module may carry a wall panel, a window assembly, or a door assembly.

[0012] Another aspect of the invention is directed to a method for rapidly assembling a modular wall system. The method includes the steps of providing first and second modules, each having a vertical support component having a first vertical surface edge with a slot. Next, the modules are positioned so that the first and second vertical surface edges are in vertical abutting relationship. After the modules are positioned, the first and second vertical support component slots are registered to form a registered slot pair. Then, a generally U-shaped connector clip having a base and a pair of legs extending from the base is provided. Finally, the legs of the connector clip are inserted into the registered slot pair.

[0013] Yet another aspect of the invention is an improved modular wall system including a corner post. The modular wall system includes a first module and a second module, each module having a vertical support component having vertical surface edge. The improved system includes a corner post inserted between the two modules. The corner post has a first side and a second side, each having a vertical elongate slot. Each vertical support component's edge has a vertical support component slot. One of the vertical support component slots is in registry with the first corner post slot to form a first registered slot pair. The other vertical support component slot is in registry with the second corner post to form a second registered slot pair. A pair of generally U-shaped connector clips, each having a base and a pair of legs, are inserted in the registered slot pairs.

[0014] Yet another aspect of the present invention is addressed to a method for rapidly forming a corner. The method includes the steps of providing first and second modules, each module having a vertical support component having a vertical support component surface with an edge having an elongate slot. The next step is to provide a corner post having first and second sides, each corner post side having a vertical elongate slot. One of the modules is positioned so that its vertical support component surface is in abutting engagement with one of the corner post's side. The other module's vertical support component surface is positioned in abutting engagement with the corner post's other side. Next, the vertical support component slots are registered with the corner post side slots to form registered slot pairs. A pair of generally U-shaped connector clip having a base and a pair of legs extending from the base are provided. Lastly, the connector clips are inserted into the registered slot pairs.

[0015] Yet another aspect of the invention is directed to a horizontally adjustable wall module. That module includes a first and vertical support components extending, respectively, between vertical support component lower portions and a second vertical support component upper portions. An upper assembly includes a first member, extending generally perpendicularly from the first vertical support component upper portion, and a second member attached to the second vertical support component, extending generally perpendicularly from the second support component upper portion. The first and second members are freely, slideably engageable with respect to one another. The horizontally expandable wall module also includes a base assembly including a first base member, extending generally perpendicularly from the first support component lower portion, and a second base member attached to the second support component, extending generally perpendicularly from the second support component lower portion. The first and second base members are freely, slideably engageable with respect to one another to define the wall module's horizontal length.

[0016] Still another aspect of the invention involves a wall connection assembly for connecting a wall module to an existing wall. The wall module has a module panel extending horizontally to a vertical support component having a vertical wall confronting surface. The connector has a pair of vertical support component fastener legs, each vertical support component fastener leg having a slot, and at least one existing wall apertured leg spaced apart from the pair of vertical support component fastener legs. A pair of apertures extend through the vertical support component surface and are in adjustable registry with the slots of the vertical support component legs. A pair of removable vertical support component fasteners are inserted through the vertical support component fastener leg slots and the vertical support component surface apertures for securing the vertical support component legs to the vertical support component surface. A removable existing wall fastener is inserted through the existing wall apertured leg for securing the existing wall apertured leg to the existing wall.

[0017] Still another aspect of the invention addresses a vertically adjustable wall module having a panel magnetically attached to its frame. That module includes a metal module frame assembly having a pair of oppositely disposed spaced apart vertical support components, each having an upper portion and a lower portion. A metal upper assembly is disposed generally horizontally between the vertical support components and is vertically adjustable. A metal base assembly is disposed generally horizontally between the vertical support component lower portions and is vertically adjustable. Generally horizontal crown molding extends between the vertical support component upper portions.

[0018] Still another aspect of the invention is addressed to a vertically adjustable wall module system of two adjacent wall modules. Each module includes a frame assembly, an upper assembly, a base assembly, and crown molding. The frame assembly has a pair of oppositely disposed spaced apart vertical support components, each having an upper portion and a lower portion. The upper assembly is disposed generally horizontally between the vertical support components and is vertically adjustable. The base assembly is disposed generally horizontally between the vertical support component lower portions and is also vertically adjustable. Generally horizontal crown molding extends between the vertical support component upper portions, the crown molding being capable of concealing any height difference between adjacent wall modules.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0019] For a fuller understanding of the nature and advantages of the present invention, reference should be had to the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying drawings, in which:

[0020] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a room, two walls of which are composed of interconnected wall modules constructed in accordance with the invention;

[0021] FIG. 2 is an elevational view of the wall modules forming the front wall illustrated in FIG. 1;

[0022] FIG. 3 is a front view of a wall module frame according to the invention;

[0023] FIG. 4 is a sectional view taken through the plane 4-4 in FIG. 3;

[0024] FIG. 5 is an enlarged view of area A illustrated in FIG. 2;

[0025] FIG. 6 is a sectional view taken through plane 6-6 of FIG. 5;

[0026] FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a module connector clip according to the invention;

[0027] FIG. 8 is a top view of the module connector clip illustrated in FIG. 7;

[0028] FIG. 9 is a side view of the module connector clip illustrated in FIG. 7;

[0029] FIG. 10 is an enlarged view of area B illustrated in FIG. 2;

[0030] FIG. 11 is a front view of the frame of a horizontally adjustable wall module constructed in accordance with the invention;

[0031] FIG. 12 is a sectional view taken along plane 12-12 in FIG. 11;

[0032] FIG. 13 is a sectional view taken along plane 13-13 in FIG. 11;

[0033] FIG. 14 is a sectional view taken along the plane 14-14 in FIG. 11;

[0034] FIG. 15 is a sectional view taken along the plane 15-15 in FIG. 1;

[0035] FIG. 15A is a top view of the connector illustrated in FIG. 15;

[0036] FIG. 16 is a sectional view taken through the plane 16-16 in FIG. 1 showing the wall module frame with panels and molding attached in accordance with the invention;

[0037] FIG. 17 is a rear view of a panel showing the arrangement of magnets thereon;

[0038] FIG. 19 is an enlarged view of area C illustrated in FIG. 16;

[0039] FIG. 20 is an enlarged view of area D illustrated in FIG. 16;

[0040] FIG. 18 is a rear view of a panel showing the magnet configuration utilized with the horizontally adjustable wall module frame shown in FIG. 11;

[0041] FIG. 21 is sectional view taken along the plane 21-21 in FIG. 1;

[0042] FIG. 22 is a sectional view of the corner post illustrated in FIG. 21 with an additional wall module abutting one edge to form a three-way configuration;

[0043] FIG. 23 is a sectional view of the configuration illustrated in FIG. 22 with an additional wall abutting another corner post edge to form a four-way configuration;

[0044] FIG. 24 is a view of one embodiment of a strip magnet painted along one edge;

[0045] FIG. 25 is a view of another embodiment of a strip magnet painted along one edge;

[0046] FIG. 26 is a view of another strip magnet painted along two edges;

[0047] FIG. 27 is a view of a pair of painted strip magnets provided at a corner formed by adjacent wall modules;

[0048] FIG. 28 is an elevational view of the wall module frames of a wall which supports a window and a door;

[0049] FIG. 29 is a sectional view taken through the plane 29-29 in FIG. 28; and

[0050] FIG. 30 is an enlarged view of area E illustrated in FIG. 28.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

[0051] While the wall system and modular wall components of the invention enjoy a broad flexibility in terms of the decor or esthetic effect which they present, the resultant wall assembly is quite structurally robust. Each wall module has a width, for example, of 48 inches and a height of eight feet or more and is formed of eighteen gauge steel. When the wall structure is totally self standing, for example, defining a wall periphery within a preexisting building space, the vertical structural integrity of the walls is established by, in effect, turning corners, an arrangement wherein certain of the modules will be attached to others at a right angle or some other desired angle. The modules retain the flexibility of carrying utilities such as electrical power, lighting and low voltage communication raceways. Typically both sides of each module will support a relatively thin panel which is retained in a vertical orientation by strip magnets which are adhesively adhered to the inward surface of the panels about their inwardly facing periphery. Because these thin panels, i.e., {fraction (3/16)} inch to about ¼ inch thickness, are maintained in a vertical orientation, they are retained in a material compressive state, in effect, being supported along their lower edge. With such support, the relatively light attachment achieved with strip magnets is all that is required to maintain this verticality and thus support a portion of the panel weight at the noted lower edge. Vertical orientation support by the magnets permits easy erecting and removing the panels. However, experience with the panels shows that that a substantial amount of magnet surface area is derived with a strip magnet approach to attachment. Because the magnets are attracted to a flat surface, temperature related expansion or contraction is inherently accommodated for. The robustness of the wall modules also permits the supporting of doors and windows and any of a variety of implements.

[0052] Referring to FIG. 1, one embodiment of a wall system according to the invention is represented generally at 10. System 10 is formed as a sequence or series of wall modules, 12-18, of somewhat standardized dimensions which are combined with two customized components, a door supporting module, 20, and a horizontally expanding module, 22. Wall modules 12-22 are connected to one another and to existing walls, 28 and 30, in such a way as to define a rectangular space within a given facility. One wall, 24, of the space is defined by wall modules 12 and 14 which are connected in a side-by-side manner. Portions of wall module 12 are broken away to reveal the locations at which wall module 12 is connected to existing wall 28. The mechanism for implementing these connections is described in greater detail in FIGS. 2, 20, and 20A.

[0053] Wall modules 16,18, 20, and 22 are connected to one another also in a side-by-side manner to form a second straight wall, 26. Wall module 14 is seen to be connected at a right angle with wall module 16 to form an exterior corner, 32. Wall module 18 is connected between wall module 16 and door supporting module 20. Door supporting module 20 includes a door assembly, 36, having a door frame, 38, and a door, 40. Door 40 is seen to be constructed having a glass pane 42. An interior corner, 34, of the space, defined by existing walls 28 and 30, may be seen through glass pane 42 of door 40. Completing wall 26 is wall module 22, which is connected to existing wall 30 in similar fashion to the way wall component 12 is connected to existing wall 28. Although not apparent in FIG. 1, wall module 22 is capable of expending horizontally to enable wall 26 to conform to the dimensions of the existing facility.

[0054] Crown molding, shown generally at 44, is seen to extend about a portion of the upper, front surfaces of wall modules 12-22. Similarly, base molding, shown generally at 46, extends about a portion of the lower, front surfaces of modules 12-22. Crown molding 44 and base molding 46 is seen to align with the crown molding and the base molding, respectively, provided at the top and bottom of existing walls 28 and 30.

[0055] Turning now to FIG. 2, the interior structures or frames of the wall modules forming wall 26 are revealed. At the far end of wall 26 is a corner post, 54, which forms the exterior corner 32 shown in FIG. 1. The construction of corner post 54 will be described in greater detail later in connection with FIGS. 21-23. As described in connection with FIG. 1, to the right of corner post 54 is wall module 16. Module 16 is composed of an upstanding frame assembly, 60, which rests upon a base assembly, 72 as shown in FIG. 2. Frame assembly 60 is formed having two generally vertically oriented support components which are connected and preferably weldably coupled with an upper support assembly 61 and are mutually spaced apart in generally parallel relationship a module widthwise extent. That widthwise extent is selected to support a panel about the edges. In the figure, one side support component of frame assembly 60 is shown at 62, while an oppositely disposed side support component is seen at 64. Support components 62 and 64 define an open cavity surmounted by flat magnetically responsive panel support surfaces on either side of frame assembly 60. The panel support surfaces of vertical support components 62 and 64 on one side of the frame assembly are shown at 56 and 58, respectively. Similar panel support surfaces (not shown) are presented on the opposite side of vertical support components 62 and 64. Each of the vertical support components extends upwardly to an upper support assembly 66 at which location they are rigidly attached, i.e. by welding. Extending between vertical support components 62 and 64 at the bottom of frame 60 is lower support assembly, 65. Vertical support components 62 and 64 also are rigidly attached to lower support assembly 65.

[0056] Fixed between oppositely disposed support components 62 and 64 are a pair of braces or cross supports, 68 and 70. These cross supports are formed of magnetically responsive ferrous metal and provide structural integrity to the support module. Because the modular wall structures are configured to establish a wall periphery utilizing opaque panels, as will be described later, an additional cross support is provided which is fixed between the oppositely disposed side supports at an elevation above the floor or height effective to structurally support the flat module panel against force asserted upon panel forward surface by the shoulder of a standing adult human, for example, at a level of about 4½ to 5 feet. Such a cross support is shown at 82 in FIG. 3. Formed of magnetically responsive material such as a ferrous metal, the forward face or surface of cross support 82 is flat for providing abutting engagement with the rearward surface of the panel. As with support 82, the support 84 is weldably fixed to the oppositely disposed side support of the support module and presents a flat forward surface or face for abutting engagement with a panel.

[0057] The modules of the invention are intended primarily to create walls and to define space within a larger existing space having a floor and a ceiling. Therefore, each module generally will be of a height to extend from the existing space's floor to its ceiling. While it is more practical and economical to manufacture modules having somewhat standard dimensions, a problem arises in that the modules must be utilized within a given space having potentially non-uniform dimensions, i.e., an uneven floor or ceiling or both. Each frame assembly includes an upper frame assembly which rests on a base assembly. For example, frame assembly 60 includes an upper frame assembly 61 which rests on a base assembly, 72. Through a leveling assembly located at the bottom of each modules upper frame assembly, the modules of the present invention are designed to accommodate such variances within an existing space. This leveling feature is achieved by the positioning of the upper frame assembly 61 with respect to base assembly 72. For example, in installation, base assembly 72 is positioned at the appropriate location on the floor, 96. Upper frame assembly 61 then is set atop base assembly 72. By manipulating a pair of machine screws, 74 and 76 provided as part of the leveling assembly, either side of frame 60 may be raised or lowered to achieve a level frame regardless of the evenness of the floor.

[0058] When fully assembled, the wall modules of the present invention advantageously extend fully from the floor of the existing facility to its ceiling. A vertical adjustability feature enables a single size wall module to accommodate ceilings of differing heights, thus, lessening the need for wall module customization. Such vertical adjustability further aids in the installation of these modules, the upper support assemblies of the modules being adjustable so that a module frame may easily be located brought into a facility and positioned on its base assembly with the upper support assembly in its lowest position. Thereafter, the upper support assembly may be raised to the desired height with respect to the ceiling. Looking to FIG. 3, the vertical adjustability feature provided by the upper support assembly of the wall modules is illustrated. In the figure, wall module 16 is shown alone, the elements of module 16 previously identified in connection with FIG. 2 retaining their prior numeration. When in its lowest position, upper support assembly 66 is located as shown by the solid lines FIG. 3. The dashed lines at the top of FIG. 3 illustrate the location of upper support assembly 66 when raised to its highest position. By manipulating the height of the upper support assembly, a wall module may vary in height, for example, between 96 inches and 116 inches.

[0059] The vertical adjustability of upper support assembly 66 is achieved by a unique connection to vertical support components 62 and 64. Looking briefly to FIG. 14, a cross sectional view of the upper portion of one vertical support component of a wall module is revealed. It may be seen that that portion of the vertical support component consists of an outer component 240 and a nested component 242. Outer component 240 is freely engageable with nested component 242 and capable of sliding up and down in a vertical orientation. Upper support assembly 66, which extends transverse to vertical support components 62 and 64, is connected to outer component 240 and moves vertically in correspondence with vertical movement of outer component 240. The interconnection of components 240 and 242 is such as to allow movement of the components with respect to one another, but when upper support assembly is in its desired position, it will be retained in that position without resort to an additional connection, ie., by a bolt or screw.

[0060] Looking momentarily to FIG. 4, an end view of module 16 illustrates in greater detail the construction of one of the vertical support components, namely support component 62. Support component 64 presents an identical construction if module 16 were viewed from the other end. The vertical adjustability of upper frame assembly 61 again is illustrated, the dashed lines representing the positioning of upper support assembly 66 when upper frame assembly is at its tallest configuration. In this figure, it may be seen that upper support assembly 66 is formed having a generally U-shaped configuration. Also illustrated in FIG. 4 are openings along the length of support member 62 to accommodate for wiring, i.e., electrical, telecommunications, etc. Two such openings are shown, for example, at 92 and 94.

[0061] Returning to FIG. 2, the connection system by which adjacent wall modules are connected is illustrated. Prior art wall modules, such as those described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,311,441 B1, may be connected together utilizing three or four bolt and wing nut assemblies. Such an assembly is illustrated, for example, in FIGS. 3 and 8-10 of the '441 patent. The present invention incorporates a unique connection system, which addresses problems associated with the former bolt and wing nut assemblies. The connection system consists of a series of slots located along the vertical support components on either side of a module. When two modules are joined together, the slots of one module align with those of the adjacent module. A U-shaped clip or fastener then is inserted into the slots. The slot and clip system provides a number of advantages over the former bolt and wing nut connections. First, utilizing such clips results in a stronger wall frame connection because the slots may be located at a wider distance. Also, the slots that receive the clips provide a higher tolerance such that two modules being joined together are automatically aligned. Finally, installation is quicker and easier, a simple hammer being the only tool needed to insert and remove the clips from the outside of the modules.

[0062] Looking back to FIG. 2, the module frames of wall 26 may be seen to be held together at a plurality of connection points. For example, the frame of module 16 is connected to corner post 54 at connection positions at 78a-78f. In similar fashion the frame of module 16 is connected to the next adjacent wall module 18 as represented at connection positions 80a-80f. A connection position will be seen to be comprised of a slot formed in a frame and an interconnecting clip. As can be seen in FIG. 3, vertical support component 62 of module 16 includes a plurality of spaced apart slots, 86a-86f. A similar plurality of slots is located along vertical support component 64 at 88a-88f. As can be seen in FIG. 2, each of the wall modules, 16, 18, 20, and 22, includes a series of such slots located in the identical position along both support components. Note, corner post 54 includes an identical series of slots.

[0063] Turning now to FIG. 5, an enlarged view of one of the connection points is illustrated. That connection point is identified as area A in FIG. 2. Vertical support component 64 of module 16 is positioned to abut vertical support component, 122, of module 18 such that the respective slots in the support components are aligned as illustrated in FIG. 5. An elongate clip, 140, is inserted into slots 88c and 138c to hold support components 64 and 122 together. The length of clip 140 is seen to be commensurate with the length of slots 88c and 138c.

[0064] Looking to FIG. 6, a cross-sectional view of the connection point illustrated in FIG. 5 is revealed. As can be seen from this figure, clip 140 is formed having a U-shape with legs, 142 and 144, extending from a base, 146. Legs 142 and 144 hold in compression adjoined surfaces 156 and 158 of respective vertical support components 64 and 122. It may be seen that portions 148 and 150 of legs 142 and 144, respectively, extend or flair outwardly from surfaces 156 and 158. This facilitates the insertion and removal of clip 140 from slots 88c and 138c. The connection points illustrated in FIG. 2 (80a-80f) are located on one side of support components 64 and 122. Located along the back side of each of these support components is another series of slots located similarly to those on the front side of the support components. A pair of these slots, located along the back surfaces 164 and 166 of support components 64 and 122, are illustrated at 168c and 170c in FIG. 6. Inserted into slots 168c and 170c is another clip, 178, having a base, 184, from which extend two legs, 180 and 182. As with clip 140, portions 186 and 188 of legs 180 and 182 extend outwardly from surfaces 156 and 158. Note that surfaces 156 and 158 of support components 64 and 122 are slightly recessed from front surfaces 160 and 162 of vertical support components 64 and 122, respectively, so that base 146 of clip 140 lies flush with surfaces 160 and 162 when clip 140 is fully inserted in slots 88c and 138c. Similarly, base 184 of clip 178 lies flush with back surfaces 164 and 166 of vertical support components 64 and 122.

[0065] Looking to FIGS. 7-9, clip 140 is illustrated in greater detail, being representative of all clips disclosed herein for connecting standard modules (e.g., modules 16 and 18), customized modules (e.g., door supporting modules and window supporting modules), and corner posts. Components of clip 140 previously identified in FIG. 6 retain their prior numeration. Clip 140 generally will be formed of a metal, however, other materials, such as certain polymeric materials, may be used. Clip 140 generally will be about 1.0 inches in length from its base 146 to the end of legs 142 and 144. Base 146 will have a width of about 0.75 inches.

[0066] Returning again to FIG. 2, it may be seen that clips, such as those shown in FIGS. 7-9, also are used to connect conventional wall modules with customized wall modules such as door supporting wall module 20. Door supporting module 20 includes an interior frame 200 consisting of a customized door frame 202 and a small, upper frame 204. Door frame 202 is of the size of a standard door frame and as with a conventional door frame includes vertical door frame components 208 and 210 and horizontal door frame component 212. However, as with the support components of the previously described modules 16 and 18, vertical door frame components 208 and 210 include a plurality of slots spaced apart at given distances along their respective lengths. Door frame 202 rests on floor 96 and is not adjustable vertically. Therefore, to accommodate for the vertical adjustability of the modules to which it may be connected, the lowermost four slots of vertical door frame components 208 and 210 are elongated as illustrated in FIG. 10.

[0067] FIG. 10 is an enlarged view of connection point 224d shown in FIG. 2. Connection point 224d includes an elongated slot, 232d, in vertical door frame component 210 and a slot, 250d, in one of the vertical components, 238, of adjacent module 22. Inserted into slots 232d and 250d is a clip, 234. Note that the length of slot 250d is commensurate with the length of clip 234. As the frame of module 22, and hence vertical component 238, is adjusted in an upward or downward manner, slot 250d and slot 232d are still capable of being aligned such that clip 234 may be inserted to join them together.

[0068] Returning to FIG. 2, door supporting module 20 (FIG. 1) is seen to include upper frame 204. Frame 204 includes a pair of vertical side components 214 and 216 and an upper support assembly 218. The base, 226, of upper frame 204 rests on horizontal door component 212 and is vertically adjustable with respect to ceiling 94 in the fashion previously described in connection with FIGS. 3 and 14. As such the slots in vertical side components 214 and 216 that create connection points 206a, 206b, 224a, and 224 need not be elongated like the lower slots of vertical door components 208 and 210.

[0069] The rightmost frame, 236, illustrated in FIG. 2 is that of horizontally expanding module 22 shown in FIG. 1. Looking to FIG. 11, the horizontal adjustability of frame 236 is shown. Frame 236 includes an upper frame assembly 248 and a base assembly 256. Upper frame assembly 248 rests on base assembly 256 and may be leveled by a pair of screws 258 and 260. Upper frame assembly 248 includes a pair of vertical support components, 238 and 240. To attach frame 236 to an adjacent frame on either side, vertical components 238 and 240 include slots as shown at 250a-250f and 252a-252f, respectively. Each of these slots, as with those described in connection with FIGS. 5 and 6, are substantially the same length as the length of a clip as at 140, namely, about 1.0 inch.

[0070] Connected at the top of and extending transversely from vertical component 238 is a substantially U-shaped tubular member 272. A second substantially U-shaped tubular component, 274, is connected to and extends from vertical component 240. Tubular component 272 has slightly smaller dimensions than tubular component 274 and is designed to be freely, slideably engageable within tubular component 274. This nested relationship is illustrated in FIG. 12.

[0071] Vertical component 238 also includes a series of transverse or horizontally inwardly extending tubular members 276, 280, and 284. A second series of tubular members, 278, 282, and 286 similarly are attached to vertical component 240. Tubular components 276, 280, and 284 are designed to be freely, slideably engaged within tubular components 276, 280, and 284, respectively. Tubular components 276, 280, and 284 have dimensions slightly smaller than their of respective mating components to provide the necessary nesting relationship. A cross-sectional view taken through line 13-13 illustrates the joining of members 276 and 278.

[0072] With the tubular members of vertical components 238 and 240 connected in this way, vertical components 238 and 240 may be moved outwardly from one another to define the length of frame 236. To accomplish this movement, either vertical component 240 may be moved while component 238 remains stationary or component 238 may be moved while vertical component 240 remains stationary. Alternatively, both components 238 and 240 may be moved outwardly simultaneously. In FIG. 11, Frame 236 is shown having its widest extent, i.e., vertical components 238 and 240 are separated by the greatest distance. To permit frame 236 to expand to a greater extent, a plurality of tubular members (not shown) may be nested within tubular members 274, 278, and 286 in conventional telescoping fashion.

[0073] Frame 236 may be continuously expanded to any width in a given range, i.e., between 36 inches and 48 inches. However, the number of panels sizes required to fit a given wall system may be reduced by horizontally adjusting frame 236 in given increments. For example, frame 236 may be expanded in 6 inch increments to widths of 36, 42, or 48 inches.

[0074] To accommodate the lateral movement of upper frame assembly 248, base assembly 256 is segmented, having a first base component 288, and a second base component, 290. Being unconnected, base components 288 and 290 are free to move laterally with respect to one another. Also as an accommodation to the horizontal movement of vertical components 238 and 240, frame 236 includes a single vertical support 268 rather than a pair of braces as shown at 68 and 70 (FIG. 2). In addition to its horizontal adjustability, frame 236 retains the vertical adjustability feature described previously in connection with FIG. 3. In this regard, FIG. 14 shows a cross sectional view of the upper portion of vertical support component 240.

[0075] Looking back to FIG. 2, it may be seen that frame 236 is connected to existing wall 30 at 310, 312, and 314. The frame of module 12 is similarly connected to existing wall 28 at 48, 50, and 52 as shown in FIG. 1. A detailed view of one of these wall connections is illustrated in FIGS. 15 and 15A. In FIG. 15, one of the connections of frame 236 of module 22 is shown being made to existing wall 30. In this regard, vertical component 240 has a surface 308 which is substantially parallel to and spaced apart from existing wall 30 a given distance to form a gap, shown generally at 316. Within this gap is a connection assembly, 318. Connection assembly 318 includes a generally W-shaped connector 320. With connector 320 positioned in the appropriate location against vertical support component 240, a pair of stove bolts, 322 and 324, are inserted through elongate, rectangular channels 346 and 348 (FIG. 15A) in connector 320 and then through a pair of apertures in surface 308 to attach connector 320 to vertical component 240. Washers are provided, as at 326 and 328, and bolts 322 and 324 are secured by nuts 330 and 332, respectively. One or more spacers, as at 334, may be provided before bolts 322 and 234 are inserted in the event that the gap 316 between wall 30 and vertical component 240 is greater than the width of connector 320.

[0076] Connector 320 then is attached to existing wall 30 by means of a pair of screws, one of which is shown at 338. The screws are inserted through a pair of apertures, shown extending through connector 320 at 342 and 344 (FIG. 15A), and secured in wall 30. To protect wall 30, plugs, one of which may be seen at 340, may be inserted into apertures in wall 30 prior to securing the pair of screws. Washers also may be used with the screws, as at 338.

[0077] Advantageously, the wall modules of the present invention, when wholly assembled, extend fully from the floor of the facility to its ceiling. This feature is achieved through utilization of vertically adjustable wall modules, as described in connection with FIGS. 3 and 4, the aforementioned leveling assemblies, and application of specialized molding at the upper and lower portions of the wall modules. FIG. 16 shows a side view of a completed wall module, 350. Note that the base assembly 354 of frame 352 rests on floor 356, and upper support assembly 358 has been raised such that it is in close adjacency with the ceiling 360.

[0078] As described above in connection with FIG. 2, the leveling assembly located at the bottom of the upper frame assembly enables the wall module to compensate for unevenness of the floor or ceiling. Looking to FIG. 20, additional detail of the leveling assembly shown in FIG. 16 may be seen. Leveling assembly 368 includes a pair of machine screws, 387 and 389, inserted through a pair of apertures (not shown) in panel support member 391, which is permanently attached to the bottom of upper frame assembly 370 of frame 352. To retain screws 387 and 389 in position, locking nuts, 398 and 400, are provided. Machine screws 387 and 389 rest on the upwardly extending supports 406 and 408 of a base, 402, of base assembly, 354. As described previously, unevenness in floor 356 or ceiling 360 may be accommodated by adjustment of machine screws 387 and 389, for example using a cordless drill. Machine screws 387 and 389 are easily accessed within the interior cavity of frame 356. Base 402 is a generally U-shaped channel formed, for example of sheet metal, that extends along the length of the module. Positioned within base 402 at either end are rectangular leveling assembly supports, one of which is shown at 404. The leveling assembly supports may include an opening such as that shown at 405 in support 404 to accommodate, for example, an electric outlet.

[0079] Once the appropriate frames have been positioned, leveled, and connected to each other and to existing walls, a thin, decorative and typically flexible module panel is positioned on each side of the frame against the forward facing panel support surfaces in a manner enclosing the noted cavity. FIG. 16 shows frame 352 with two such panels, 384 and 386, attached. The vertical orientation of each relatively large but thin panel is maintained by providing a magnetic interaction between the periphery of the rearward surface of the panel and the peripherally disposed forwardly facing magnetically responsive flat panel support surfaces. These support surfaces include the support surfaces of the vertical support components and those of upper support assembly 358 and base assembly 354. The support surfaces surmount the interior cavity of module 350. In this regard, relatively small attachment force is required to retain the verticality of the panels. To develop this magnetic coupling, polymeric strip magnets are adhesively fixed to the periphery of the rearward face of each panel. Advantageously, such magnetic coupling of the panels to the support modules permits their easy removal and replacement such that the decor developed with the panels easily is altered by the user.

[0080] Looking to FIG. 17, the pattern of attachment of the magnet strips for a conventional module panel, for example, upon the rearward face 370 of panel 384, is revealed. Horizontal edge magnets 376 and 378 combine with edge magnets 372 and 374 to circumscribe rectangular panel face 370. Two cross strip magnets shown at 380 and 382 are adhesively attached to the rearward surface 370 at locations for engagement with the earlier described cross supports shown respectively at 68 and 70 in FIG. 3. Panel 386 attached to the opposite side of frame 66 will bear magnetic strips of the same pattern of attachment. FIG. 18 shows the pattern of attachment of the magnetic strips for a panel used with the horizontally expandable module illustrated in FIG. 11. Mounted upon and about the periphery of the rearward face, 476, of a customized panel, 474, are horizontal edge magnets 478 and 480, and vertical edge magnets 482 and 484. An additional vertically positioned magnet 486 is adhesively attached at a location for engagement with vertical support 268.

[0081] Once panels have been attached to a module frame, crown molding and base molding are attached as shown in FIGS. 19 and 20. The details of the crown molding are illustrated in FIG. 19, which is an enlarged view of area C shown in FIG. 16. A detailed view of the base molding is illustrated in FIG. 20, which is an enlarged view of area D of FIG. 16.

[0082] Looking first to FIG. 20, base assembly 354 is shown covered on either side of frame 352 by removable base molding, as shown at 438 and 440. This base molding extends from floor 356 to the bottom portions of panels 384 and 386 and may be formed of vinyl or rubber. Secured along a portion of the interior surface of base molding 438 is a pair of magnets 430 and 432. These magnets are positioned to attach to the magnetically responsive surface 414 of base 402. In similar fashion, base molding 440 includes magnets 434 and 436 which are located to attach to the magnetically responsive surface 416 of base 402. It may be seen that while the central portion of base 402 is slightly narrower in depth from the depth of frame 352, magnetically responsive surfaces 414 and 416 protrude outwardly such that base moldings 438 and 440, when magnetically attached to these surfaces, are held in a vertical orientation and a portion of the top of each molding aligns with a portion of the bottom of each panel. For example, it may be seen that the upper portion 442 of the interior surface of molding 438 abuts with and extends along a portion of panel 384. This is true even when leveling assembly 368 has been adjusted so that frame 352, and thus panels 384 and 386, is at its greatest distance from floor 356. When frame 352 has been adjusted to its lowest position from floor 356, the upper portions 442 and 444 of moldings 438 and 440 simply will cover more of the bottommost portions of panels 384 and 386.

[0083] To complete the wall structure, crown molding is provided as shown in FIG. 19. It may be seen that upper support assembly, 428, of frame 352 also includes magnetically responsive surfaces, 452 and 460, to which the uppermost magnets 446 and 448 of panels 384 and 386, respectively, are attached. The lengths of panels 384 and 386 are such that only a portion of upper support assembly 428 is covered by the panels. Between ceiling 360 and panel 384 is crown molding, shown at 450 and 458. Crown moldings 450 and 458, in addition to providing an aesthetic appearance, cover any unevenness in panel height, which may occur during panel manufacturing. Because the crown molding covers such imperfections, the panels may be produced more quickly and inexpensively.

[0084] Crown moldings 450 and 458 are formed of a rigid plastic. Crown molding 450 is held in place by a magnet 452 adhesively secured along one surface, which attached to an exterior surface, 453, of upper support assembly 428. Crown molding 458 also includes a magnet, 460, which attaches to the opposite exterior surface, 461, of upper support assembly 358. To prevent air, and thus sound, from flowing over the top of the module, a compressible seal is provided between the top of the crown molding and the ceiling. For example, it may be seen that seal 456 is positioned between crown molding 450 and ceiling 360. Another seal, 464, is similarly positioned between crown molding 458 and ceiling 360. These seals have a somewhat oval shape, which allows for further height accommodation but which when fully compressed does not become visible. A flexible j-shaped extension, as at 454 at the bottom of molding 450, provides for a continuous appearance along the bottom of the molding being able to conform to irregularities in the exterior surface of the panels. A similar extension is provided at 462 at the bottom of crown molding 458. Another decorative piece of molding may be adhesively attached to the crown molding as shown at 458 to provide a different aesthetic appearance.

[0085] Turning now to FIG. 21, a cross-sectional view of a corner post, 500, such as that shown at 54 in FIG. 2, reveals its internal structure and connection to adjacent wall modules. With the present invention, a standard corner, 3-way intersection, and 4-way intersection all may be achieved using a single corner post having the configuration shown in FIG. 21. In FIG. 21, a corner post, 500, is seen to connect a pair of wall modules, 502 and 504, at a right angle forming an interior corner, 522, and an exterior corner, 524. The use of a corner post to join two wall modules in this manner is illustrated in FIG. 1, the exterior corner shown generally at 32. One of the vertical support components, 506, of wall module 502 is seen to be integrally formed having a base, 508, and a pair of Z-shaped legs, 510 and 512, extending outwardly from either end of base 508. Similarly, one of the vertical components, 514, of wall module 504 is seen to be formed having a base, 516 and a pair of Z-shaped legs, 518 and 520.

[0086] Like the wall modules, corner post 500 is formed having a pair of oppositely disposed vertical support components, 526 and 528. These vertical support components also are integrally formed having a base and Z-shaped legs extending outwardly from each end. For example, vertical support component 526 includes a base, 530, and Z-shaped legs, 532 and 534. Vertical support component 528 includes a base, 536, and Z-shaped legs, 538 and 540. Connecting vertical support components 526 and 528 are pairs of cross members, two of which are shown at 550 and 552. Pairs of these cross members are located at intervals along the length of the vertical support components. For example, looking to corner post 54 shown in FIG. 2, one cross member of each pair may be seen at 55a-55f. Vertical support components 526 and 528 may be connected to these cross members, for example, by welding. Attached to Z-shaped legs 534 and 540 is a C-shaped component 554. Corner post 500 is designed such that the distance between vertical support component base 530 and vertical support component base 536 is the same as the distance between C-shaped component base 556 and the outermost portion of Z-shaped legs 532 and 538. This distance may be, for example, 6 inches. Providing a corner post with such symmetry reduces the number of customized panels needed at any given intersection of wall modules as will be explained below.

[0087] As shown in FIG. 21, wall module 502 is positioned so that base 508 of vertical support component 506 abuts base 530 of vertical support component 526. Vertical support component 526 of corner post 500 includes a series of slots (not shown) which are aligned with the slots of adjacent wall modules and held together by clips such as those described in connection with FIGS. 5-9. A series of the resulting connection points may be seen, for example, in FIG. 2 at 78a-78f where corner post 54 is connected to frame 60 of adjacent wall module 16. Returning to FIG. 21, it may be seen that wall module 502 is positioned in adjacency with corner post 500 such that base 516 of vertical support component 514 abuts the base, 556, of C-shaped component 554.

[0088] Once wall modules 502 and 504 are positioned against corner post 500, panels may be applied to the interior and exterior surfaces of the resulting corner. For example, panels 560 and 562 are positioned along the surfaces of interior corner 522. These interior panels are formed having a length that is 1 inch greater than the length of the conventional panels, for example, shown in FIG. 11. Adhesively attached to panels 560 and 562 are a series of strip magnets, such as shown in FIG. 17. Two such magnets are shown at 574 and 576. Also adhesively attached to panel 560 is a unique L-shaped magnet, 564, which has a base 542 and an appended leg 544. Appended leg 544 of magnet 564 extends along a portion of the interior surface and base 542 extends along the outer edge of panel 560. Adhesively attached to panel 562 is another L-shaped magnet 566 which extends along a portion of the interior surface and outer edge of panel 562. L-shaped magnet 566 is formed having a base, 546, and an appended leg, 548. It may be seen that while appended legs 542 and 548 are commensurate in length and width, base 546 is thicker than base 544. Along exterior corner 524 are panels 568 and 570. To cover both the frame of wall module 502 and the edge of corner post 500, panel 568 has a length that is 6 inches greater than a conventional panel. Similarly, panel 570 has a length that is 6 inches longer than a conventional panel to cover the frame of wall module 504 and corner post 500. Panels 568 and 570 are attached by conventional strip magnets 576 and 580. An L-shaped magnet, 572, such as shown at 566, also is adhesively attached to panel 570. It may be seen that edges 582 and 584 of L-shaped magnet 572 are flush with the outer surfaces of panels 568 and 570, respectively. Because of the dimensions of corner post 500, only two customized panels are required at a given corner, i.e., panels longer by 1.0 inch for interior corners and panels longer by 6 inches for exterior corners.

[0089] Looking to FIG. 22, a 3-way intersection is shown having two interior corners and a straight wall segment. This intersection may be, for example, composed of wall modules 502 and 504 and corner post 500 with an additional wall module positioned against corner post 500 at a right angle to module 502. The additional wall module, 590, is seen to include vertical support component, 592, having a base, 594, with Z-shaped legs, 596 and 598, extending outwardly from each end. Base 594 abuts Z-shaped legs 532 and 538 of corner post vertical support components 526 and 528. With module 590 positioned in this manner, another interior corner, 630, is formed. As with interior corner 522, panels having a length 1 inch longer than conventional panels are applied to the surfaces of interior corner 630. Such panels are shown at 600 and 606. Panels 600 and 606 include adhesively attached strip magnets at 602 and 608, respectively. Panel 600, like panel 560, includes an adhesively attached L-shaped magnet, 604. Magnet 604 extends along a portion of the interior surface and outer edge of panel 600. Panel 606 includes an L-shaped magnet such as that shown at 566 adhesively attached to panel 562. Rather than an exterior corner, such as that shown in FIG. 21, the 3-way intersection presents a straight wall segment. Panel 620, which covers wall module 504 and one side of corner post 500, has a length 6 inches greater than a conventional panel like panel 570 shown in FIG. 21, however, rather than an L-shaped magnet with the configuration of magnet 572, panel 620 includes the thinner L-shaped magnet, 624, such as is present on panels used in interior corners. Another panel, 626, such as shown in FIG. 11 is attached to the frame of wall module 590. One strip magnet of panel 626 may be seen at 628. Note that the outer edge of magnet 624 lies flush with the outer surfaces of panels 620 and 626.

[0090] Looking now to FIG. 23, a 4-way intersection is revealed. This wall configuration includes four interior corners. A fourth wall module, 640, is positioned against corner post 500 at a right angle to both modules 504 and 590. One of the vertical support components, 642, of wall module 640 includes a base, 644, and Z-shaped legs, 646 and 648, extending outwardly from either end. It may be seen that wall module 640 is positioned such that base 644 abuts base 536 of corner post vertical support component 528. The addition of wall module 640 results in the formation of two more interior corners, 650 and 652. The panel and magnet configurations are the same as those provided with respect to interior corners 522 and 630. For example, interior corner includes panel 654 having a conventional strip magnet 656 and an L-shaped magnet 658. Panel 660 includes conventional magnet 662 and L-shaped magnet 664. In similar fashion, interior corner 652 includes panel 666 having conventional strip magnet 668 and L-shaped magnet 670, as well as panel 672 having strip magnet 674 and L-shaped magnet 676. All of the panels shown in FIG. 23 will have a length 1.0 inch greater than that of a standard panel.

[0091] A portion of the L-shaped magnets shown in FIGS. 21-23 may be painted to provide a protective edge during manufacture, shipping, and installation. It also serves the purpose of producing a finish seam between adjacent panels that will subdue irregularities in the panels'surfaces and hide unfinished panel edges. Finally, painting portions of the L-shaped magnets provides a color choice for the seam present between the panels of adjacent wall modules.

[0092] Looking to FIGS. 24-27, several alternate painted magnet configurations are illustrated. FIGS. 24 and 25 show the seam between two panels lying in the same plane, i.e., a straight wall configuration as shown in FIG. 22. For the configuration shown in FIG. 24, a panel, 692 includes an L-shaped magnet, 696, having a base, 698, and an upwardly extending leg, 700. Adjacent panel 692 is another panel, 694, having a strip magnet, 702. It may be seen that base 698 of magnet 696 extends a given distance between panels 692 and 694. Applied along the edge of base 698 is a layer of paint, 704. Paint 704 may be applied in a thickness such that it is flush with the surfaces of panels 692 and 694 as shown. Alternatively, as shown in FIG. 25, a panel, 706, may be provided having a magnet, such as that shown at 624 in FIG. 22, whose base, 712, extends a given distance that is flush with the surfaces of panel 706 and adjacent panel 708. To provide a different aesthetic look, a layer of paint, 718, may be applied to the edge of base 712 which protrudes outwardly from the surfaces of panels 706 and 708.

[0093] FIGS. 26 and 27 show how magnets with painted edges may be used at exterior corners, such as that shown at 524 in FIG. 21, and interior corners, such as those shown at 630 and 522 in FIG. 22. FIG. 26 reveals a corner, 720. Forming corner 720 are panels 722 and 724. Attached to panel 724 is a strip magnet 732, while an L-shaped magnet, 726, is attached to panel 722. L-shaped magnet 726 includes a base, 728, and an appended leg, 730. A thin layer of paint, 734 has been applied to the edges of base 728, which are visible on exterior corner 756. Looking to FIG. 27, an interior corner, 758, is revealed which utilizes a painted magnet, 740, such as is shown in FIG. 26, together with a painted magnet, 748, such as is shown in FIG. 24. Painted magnet 748 is adhesively attached to panel 738 and includes a base, 750, an appended leg, 752, and a painted portion, 754, that extends to the surface of panel 738. Painted magnet 740 is adhesively attached to panel 736 and includes a base, 742, an appended leg, 744, and a painted portion, 746. As shown in FIG. 27, only painted portion 754 may be seen by an observer, however, to present a different aesthetic look, panel 736 may be adjusted laterally to the left so that part of painted portion 746 also would be seen by an observer.

[0094] Turning now to FIG. 28, the interior structure of a wall composed of a different combination of wall modules is revealed. The wall, 770, includes three conventional wall modules and two customized modules. The frames of the three conventional or standard modules are shown generally at 772, 774, and 776. These frames will have the same construction as that of frame 66 illustrated, for example, in FIGS. 2 and 3. One of the customized modules is a door supporting module, the frame of which is shown generally at 778. The structure of the door supporting modules of the invention was described earlier in connection with FIGS. 1 and 2. The other customized wall module is a window supporting module, the frame of which is shown generally at 780.

[0095] Frame 780 is seen to have an upper frame assembly, 790, which rests on a base assembly, 792. Base assembly 792 is of the same construction as that shown at 354 in FIG. 20 and includes a leveling assembly as evidenced in FIG. 28 by the presence of a pair of machine screws. Upper frame assembly 792 includes a pair of spaced apart vertical support components, 794 and 796. These components are spaced apart a given distance to define a window supporting module width, that width being slightly greater than that of a standard module width. Extending transversely between vertical support components 794 and 796 is a vertically adjustable upper support assembly, 798. Also extending transversely between vertical support components 794 and 796 is window support 800, which is composed of a window upper support member 802 and a window support base, 804, and accommodates a standard or custom window (not shown).

[0096] Looking to FIG. 29, a cross sectional view taken through window support 800 shows in greater detail the components of window support base 804. Window support base 804 includes a lower base member, 812, having a generally rectangular shape with upstanding members 814 and 816 and flanges 818 and 820. Positioned above lower base member 812 is upper base member, 822, which supports the window (not shown). Upper base member is generally C-shaped, having inwardly extending legs, 824 and 826. Upper base member 822 may be adjusted or leveled with respect to lower base member 812 by manipulation of a pair of machine screws 828 and 830, which are inserted through apertures (not shown) in legs 824 and 826, respectively, and held in place by nuts 836 and 838. Machine screw 828 rests on flange 818 while machine screw 830 rests on the opposite flange 820. A pair of apertures, 840 and 842, in upper base member 822 provide access to machine screws 828 and 830, respectively. By adjusting machine screws 828 and 830, window support upper member 802 may be leveled and also positioned at the same height as the horizontal member 860 of door frame 862. Once upper base member 822, and, thus, the support window, has been leveled, plugs, such as those shown at 844 and 846, may be inserted into apertures 840 and 842. A vinyl or plastic cover, as at 848, conceals window support base 804 from view. A strip magnet, 850, adhesively attached to the inner surface of cover 848 permits cover 848 to adhere to the magnetically responsive surface 852 of upper base member 822. On the opposite side of the module, a second cover, 854, includes an adhesively attached strip magnet 856, which connects cover 854 to the magnetically responsive surface 858 of upper base member 822.

[0097] Returning to FIG. 28, frame 780 is seen to be connected to adjacent module frames at a series of connection points. As with previously described modules, each vertical support component of frame 780 includes a plurality of slots, which align with the slots of adjacent module frames. A clip, such as that described in connection with FIGS. 6-9, is inserted into the aligned slots to connect the adjacent module frames together. A series of these connection points is illustrated, for example, at 870a-f connecting vertical support component 794 to the vertical support component of adjacent frame 774. A second series of connection points may be seen at 872a-f connecting module frame 780 to frame 772. It may be seen that the slots in vertical support components 794 and 796 adjacent window support 800 are elongated in the same manner as slots located adjacent door frame 202 of frame 200 (FIG. 2), as described in connection with FIG. 10. Looking to FIG. 30, an enlarged view of connection point 870d illustrates one of the elongated slots. Vertical support component 796 of frame 780 is seen to abut the adjacent vertical support component, 872, of frame 772 such that slot 870d aligns with elongated slot 874d. A clip, 876, is inserted into slots 870d and 876d. The elongation of slot 874d accommodates the vertical adjustment of window support 800.

[0098] While the invention has been described with reference to a preferred embodiment, those skilled in the art will understand that various changes may be made and equivalents may be substituted for elements thereof without departing from the scope of the invention. In addition, many modifications may be made to adapt a particular situation or material to the teachings of the invention without departing from the essential scope thereof. Therefore, it is intended that the invention not be limited to the particular embodiment disclosed as the best mode contemplated for carrying out this invention, but that the invention will include all embodiments falling within the scope of the appended claims. In this application all units are in the metric system and all amounts and percentages are by weight, unless otherwise expressly indicated. Also, all citations referred herein are expressly incorporated herein by reference.