Title:
Reconfigurable dividing wall system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A reconfigurable wall system is provided. The system includes an upper attachment member, a lower attachment member and a wall member. The upper attachment member is connected to a ceiling. The lower attachment member is connected to floor. The wall member has upper and lower ends. The upper end of the wall member is attached to the upper attachment member. The lower end of the wall is attached to the lower attachment member.



Inventors:
Mauk, Mitchell P. (San Francisco, CA, US)
Raines, Laurence C. (Berkeley, CA, US)
Application Number:
10/854740
Publication Date:
02/17/2005
Filing Date:
05/25/2004
Assignee:
MAUK MITCHELL P.
RAINES LAURENCE C.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04B2/74; (IPC1-7): E04B1/00
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Primary Examiner:
DEVOTI, PAUL D
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Crowell/BGL (CHICAGO, IL, US)
Claims:
1. A reconfigurable wall system, comprising: an upper attachment member connected to a ceiling; a lower attachment member connected to floor; and a wall member having an upper end and a lower end, the upper end attached to the upper attachment member and lower end attached to lower attachment member.

2. The wall assembly of claim 1 wherein the wall member is formed from a plurality of separate wall elements.

3. The wall assembly of claim 2 wherein the wall elements have a curved portion.

4. The wall assembly of claim 3 wherein the wall elements have a rectangular portion.

5. The wall assembly of claim 2 wherein the wall elements are spaced apart.

6. The wall assembly of claim 2 wherein the wall member is removably secured to the upper and lower attachment members.

7. The wall assembly of claim 2 further comprising fasteners adapted to secure the upper and lower ends of the wall member to the upper and lower attachment members.

8. The wall assembly of claim 2 wherein the upper and lower attachment members are formed from a metal material.

9. The wall assembly of claim 8 wherein the wall member is formed from a wood material.

10. The wall assembly of claim 9 wherein the upper and lower attachment members are each formed from two separate spaced apart support elements.

11. The wall assembly of claim 10 wherein each support element is formed from a top portion and a bottom portion.

12. The wall assembly of claim 2 wherein the wall elements have a sinusoidal shape.

13. The wall assembly of claim 12 where adjacent wall elements a pattern of opposite phase.

14. The wall assembly of claim 2 wherein the wall member departs from the plane defined by the upper and lower attachment members in a crenellated manner.

15. The wall assembly of claim 2 wherein the wall member departs from the plane defined by the upper and lower attachment member in a boustrophedonic manner.

Description:

RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present patent document claims the benefit of the filing date under 35 U.S.C. §119(e) of Provisional U.S. Patent Application Ser. No. 60/475,208, filed May 30, 2003, which is hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a reconfigurable wall panel system, and in particular to a method and system of designing and making the system and components thereof, including attachment elements and wall panels.

Open office systems are commonly used to configure large open office spaces into separate work spaces. These systems may consist of office furniture, dividing partitions, and methods and structures for managing the needed infrastructure, such as electrical, telephone and computer wiring. Such system architectures are often been promoted as being versatile, movable systems that permit easy re-arrangement to reconfigure the office area as business needs change. But these products typically have numerous parts and have so many interdependent components and complicated fasteners that it is a difficult task, requiring special skills, to make adjustments in an open plan office layout after the system has been installed. The complexity of these systems and the number of parts involved make layout planning and initial installation complex, and modification of an existing system involves similar difficulties.

Most office areas configured in an open-office manner are located in an area where dropped-ceiling architecture is used so as to obscure the view of the actual ceiling and the utility conduits and ducts required to service the office area. Generally this results in a large open area without floor-to-ceiling dividing panels of any kind, as the dropped ceiling architecture does not lend itself to convenient support of vertical partitions extending from the floor to the dropped ceiling. Installation of such partitions, particularly after the installation of the dropped ceiling may be particularly difficult.

The concept and appearance of open-office systems also has engendered some user dissatisfaction based on emotional considerations. When standing or walking around, the general appearance of sameness tends to create a feeling of monotony and produces a maze-like appearance in an office environment. Office workers get the feeling that they are in temporary quarters with little privacy, individuality or importance.

There is a need for additional architectural elements to enhance the feeling of privacy and individuality of the office area, while minimizing the effort to plan, install or modify the overall configuration. In particular, the use of dividing walls with ornamental aspects, which can provide a variety of visual effects, including texture, openwork to permit light passage, and color provides relief from some of the psychological effects of the open-office system, while additionally permitting control of pedestrian traffic flow, and light and sound management.

BRIEF SUMMARY

In accordance with the present invention, a reconfigurable wall system is provided. The system includes an upper attachment member, a lower attachment member and a wall member. The upper attachment member is connected to a ceiling. The lower attachment member is connected to floor. The wall member has upper and lower ends. The upper end of the wall member is attached to the upper attachment member. The lower end of the wall is attached to the lower attachment member.

According another aspect of the invention, the wall member is removably secured to the upper and lower attachment members.

As used herein, the term “connected to” is intended to be interpreted broadly to include direct and indirect connections.

As further used herein, the term “wall member” is intended to be interpreted broadly to include vertical elements of vary sizes, shapes, materials and functionality.

These and other features of the present invention are described in detail in connection with preferred embodiments of the invention, which are described in detail below and shown in the appended drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a front perspective view of the first embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view of the embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is an upper and lower cross-section of the embodiment of FIGS. 1 and 2.

FIG. 4 illustrates a second embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 illustrates a third embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 illustrates a fourth embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS AND THE PRESENTLY PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS

In a first embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, a reconfigurable dividing wall system 10 is shown with an embodiment of a wall panel 12. It should be recognized, as shown in the attached drawings and described herein, the embodiment of the wall panel 12 may take forms other than that illustrated in FIG. 1. In particular, a wide variety of wall panels having varying sizes, shapes, and material constructions may be implemented with the present invention in order to suit the needs of a user. It is further intended that the dividing wall system 10 be reconfigurable to readily adapt to the changing needs of a user.

The dividing wall system 10 is generally intended to provide an esthetic dividing element for an open area. The dividing wall system 10 is further intended to provide enhanced privacy without fully enclosing the area, and may also serve to direct pedestrian traffic flow.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, the wall panels 12 consist of wooden laminate with a veneer facing which has been formed into a sinuous shape. Alternate wall panels 12 are configured so that they abut each other horizontally, but the sinuous shapes are of opposite phase (as best illustrated in FIG. 2). The wall panels 12 are secured by an upper attachment member 20 and a lower attachment member 22 such that they remain in a vertical position. The lower attachment member 22 is constructed such that the weight of the wall panels 12 is either applied to the base or floor 26 directly or through the lower attachment member 22. The upper attachment member 20 and the wall panels 12 are constructed such that the weight of the wall panels 12 is not borne by the ceiling structure 30.

The upper attachment member 20 and lower attachment member 22 are best illustrated in FIG. 3. It should be recognized that upper attachment member 20 and lower attachment member 22 are only one embodiment of the present invention. As those skilled in the art will recognize, other attachment members could be implemented to support the wall panels 12. With particular reference to the present embodiment, the upper attachment member 22 consists of inner brackets 34, 36 and outer shrouds 38, 40. The outer shrouds 38, 40 provide an aesthetic cover for the inner brackets 34, 36. In particular, the shrouds 38, 40 are intended to finish the construction so that the interior mechanical details are not visible to the office occupants after the construction is completed. Various known methods of securing the shrouds 38, 40 may be used, including double-sided foam tape and VELCRO. A fastener such as the bolt 44 interconnects the inner brackets 34, 36 with the wall panel 12 secured therebetween. The bolt 44 passes through an opening in the washer 46, an opening 48 in the inner bracket 34 and through the wall panel 12. The bolt 44 then passes through an opening 50 in the inner bracket 36 in order to secure the wall panel 12.

A fastener such as the bolt 60 passes through an opening 62 in the inner bracket 36 in order to secure the upper attachment member 22 to a ceiling structure 30. The bolt 60 passes through an opening in the washer 66 and into a ceiling panel 70 and through an opening 72 in the bracket 74. The bolt 60 further passes into openings in the washer 78 and nut 80 in order to secure the upper attachment member 20 to the bracket 74. The bracket 74 is secured to the associated building structure.

The lower attachment member 22 includes generally the same as the upper attachment member 20 with exception of being attached to base surface or floor 26. The lower attachment member 22 consists of inner brackets 80, 82 and outer shrouds 84, 86. The outer shrouds 84, 86 provide an aesthetic cover for the inner brackets 80, 82. A fastener such as the bolt 90 interconnects the inner brackets 80, 82 with the wall panel 12 secured therebetween. The bolt 90 passes through an opening in the washer 92, an opening 94 in the inner bracket 80 and through the wall panel 12. The bolt 90 then passes through an opening 100 in the inner bracket 82 in order to secure the wall panel 12.

A fastener such as the screw 104 passes through an opening 108 in a bottom portion of the inner bracket 82 in order to secure the lower attachment member 22 to a base surface or floor 26 of an associated building structure.

The upper and lower attachment members 20, 22 may be made of various known materials such as galvanized steel, aluminum and with an appropriate manufacturing process such as metal bending, seam welding or extrusion.

The wall panels may have other shapes, such as crenellated, flat, bowed, rectangular or other known shapes as illustrated in FIGS. 4, 5, and 6. For example, the dividing wall system 150 of FIG. 4, illustrates linear wall panels 152 arranged in a spaced apart relationship. The dividing wall system 170 of FIG. 5, illustrates the use of bowed wall panels 172. Lastly, the dividing wall system 190 of FIG. 6, illustrates the use a square-wave or rectangular stepped wall panel configuration 192. It should be recognized a wide variety of other shapes and configurations could be implemented with the present invention. Further, a variety of known surface finishes, such as veneer, paint, fabric and the like may be implemented with the present invention.

In another embodiment of the invention, the individual wall panels may be assembled to the upper and lower attachment means such that a horizontal gap exists between wall panels along the length of the wall, such that the wall panels are not all contiguous. Combinations of contiguous and spaced panels as well as different shaped panels may be intermixed.

Although the dropped ceiling is not part of the invention, its construction is briefly described to provide context for the subsequent discussion as the wall system of the present invention may interface with the dropped ceiling. The orthogonal grid of a dropped ceiling is typically formed as a first T-bar element suspended at equal vertical distances from the building ceiling and spaced at a distance of 4 feet, each being parallel to each other. An orthogonal grid is formed by interconnecting the first T-bar elements with similar shorter T-bar elements having ends adapted to interface with the first T-bars, and spaced at a distance of 4 feet so as to form a pattern of square openings to which the remainder of the dropped ceiling is attached. Additional T-bar elements may be used in order to further subdivide the square openings into square openings measuring 2 feet on each side if needed.

Although the present invention has been described with reference to preferred embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that changes may be made in form and detail without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. As such, it is intended that the foregoing detailed description be regarded as illustrative rather than limiting and that it is the appended claims, including all equivalents thereof, which are intended to define the scope of the invention.