Title:
Workspace Dividing System
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A system for dividing a workspace includes first and second vertically extending walls having a respective upper and lower edge and respective side edges. The first and second walls are arranged in parallel to partially enclose an area. A ceiling is included that extends between the first and second walls to join the upper edges of the first and second walls and at least partially cover the partially enclosed area. The resulting arch-shaped divider system may include any of a plurality of features. For example, the systems may include integrated work surfaces, seating surfaces, and/or informational areas, or may include viewing passages.



Inventors:
Grandin, Jay (Grand Rapids, MI, US)
Ludwig, James (Grand Rapids, MI, US)
Kincaid, Brett (Lowell, MI, US)
Hamilton, John (Grand Rapids, MI, US)
Baloga, Mark (Grand Rapids, MI, US)
Application Number:
11/759293
Publication Date:
12/13/2007
Filing Date:
06/07/2007
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04H1/00
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
TRIGGS, ANDREW J
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
QUARLES & BRADY LLP (MILWAUKEE, WI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A workspace divider system comprising: first and second substantially vertically extending walls having a respective upper and lower edge and respective side edges and, wherein the first and second walls are arranged substantially in parallel and separated to form an area therebetween; a ceiling member extending between the first and second walls to join the upper edges of the first and second walls and at least partially covering the area between the walls; and an elongated slice extending through the ceiling and at least one of the first and second walls to create a continuous viewing passage to and from the area between the walls through the ceiling and the at least one of the first and second walls.

2. The system of claim 1 further comprising a rounded joint securing upper ends of the first and second walls to the ceiling and wherein the elongated slice extends through the rounded joint.

3. The system of claim 1 further comprising a substantially transparent pane positioned within the elongated slice to form a viewing window into the area between the walls.

4. The system of claim 1 further comprising a light diffusing pane positioned within at least a portion of the elongated slice to diffuse and disperse light entering the area between the walls through the diffusing pane.

5. The system of claim 4 further comprising a substantially transparent pane positioned within a portion of the elongated slice extending through one of the first and second wall to form a viewing window into the area between the walls through the substantially transparent pane and wherein the diffusing pane extends along a portion of the elongated slice extending through the ceiling.

6. The system of claim 1 wherein the area between the walls is configured to house a desk and a chair.

7. The system of claim 1 wherein at least one of the first and second walls is configured to receive a desk arranged to face the one of the first and second walls and form a backstop extending across an entirety of a work surface of the desk.

8. The system of claim 7 wherein the elongated slice extends through the backstop to provide a user seated at the desk with a view from the area between the walls through the one of the first and second walls.

9. The system of claim 7 wherein the elongated slice extends along one of the first and second walls not forming the backstop.

10. The system of claim 1 wherein the first and second walls have a vertical rise of less than seven feet and the ceiling extends between the first and second walls at a termination of the vertical rise.

11. The system of claim 10 wherein the vertical rise is sufficient to allow a user to be seated at a chair arranged within the area between the walls and under the ceiling.

12. The system of claim 1 further comprising at least one horizontally extending wall extending from one of the first and second walls to further enclose the area between the walls.

13. The system of claim 1 wherein the first and second walls are configured to disengage from the ceiling to facilitate disassembly of the workspace divider system.

14. The system of claim 1 wherein a side of the first and second walls and the ceiling facing the area between the walls include a sound absorbing material.

15. The system of claim 14 wherein the sound absorbing material includes at least one of cloth and foam.

16. The system of claim 1 wherein the viewing passage has a width of greater than approximately an inch and less than approximately a foot.

17. A workspace divider system comprising: a dividing wall having an upper edge, a lower edge, and opposing side edges; a first informational area formed on the dividing wall and arranged proximate to the upper edge to display a first set of at least one of static information and dynamic information; a second informational area formed on the dividing wall and separated from the first informational area to display a second set of at least one of static information and dynamic information; at least one elongated slice formed in the dividing wall to provide a viewing passage through the dividing wall; and wherein the at least one elongated slice is arranged between the first informational area and the second informational area to divide the first informational area and the second informational area at a height on the dividing wall where at least a portion of the viewing passage is aligned at an average eye level of an individual standing proximate to the dividing wall.

18. The system of claim 17 further comprising a substantially transparent pane extending over the elongated slice to support the first informational area above the second informational area while permitting a line of sight through the viewing passage.

19. The system of claim 17 wherein at least one of the first informational area and the second informational area includes a display system configured to display video.

20. The system of claim 19 wherein another of the first informational area and the second informational area includes a bulletin board including a resilient surface configured to receive push pins.

21. The system of claim 17 wherein the at least one elongated slice is arranged at a height of approximately five feet along a vertical rise of the dividing wall.

22. The system of claim 21 wherein the dividing wall has a vertical rise of less than seven feet.

23. The system of claim 17 further comprising at least one foot arranged along the lower side of the dividing wall to allow the workspace divider system to be self-supporting.

24. A workspace divider system comprising: first and second substantially vertically extending walls having a respective upper and lower edge and respective side edges and, wherein the first and second walls are arranged substantially in parallel to partially enclose an area; a ceiling extending between the first and second walls to join the upper edges of the first and second walls and at least partially covering the partially enclosed area; and a plurality of coaxially aligned elongated slices extending through the ceiling and at least one of the first and second walls having a common width to create viewing passages to and from the partially enclosed area.

25. The workspace divider system of claim 24 wherein the plurality of coaxially aligned slices are arranged to form a continuous viewing passage extending through the ceiling and at least one of the first and second walls.

26. A workspace divider system comprising: a vertically extending wall having an upper edge and a lower edge and side edges; a ceiling extending from the upper edge of the wall and configured to engage a building wall to at least partially enclose an area thereunder; and an elongated slice extending through the ceiling and the wall to create a continuous viewing passage to and from the partially enclosed area through the ceiling and the wall.

27. The workspace divider system of claim 26 further comprising a horizontally extending surface supported by the wall to create at least one of a seating area and a work surface within the partially enclosed area.

28. A workspace divider system comprising: first and second vertically extending walls having a respective upper and lower edge and respective side edges and, wherein the first and second walls are arranged in parallel to partially enclose an area; a ceiling extending between the first and second walls to join the upper edges of the first and second walls and at least partially cover the partially enclosed area; and at least two elongated slices having a common width extend through at least one of the ceiling and the first and second walls to create a set of viewing passages to and from the partially enclosed area.

29. The workspace divider system of claim 28 wherein the at least two elongated slices are aligned along a common axis extending along the at least two elongated slices.

30. A workspace divider system comprising: a first wall and a second wall arranged as parallel, vertically-extending panels; a ceiling supported by the first wall and the second wall to at least partially enclose an area within the first wall, the second wall, and the ceiling; and a horizontally extending surface supported by one of the first wall and the second wall to create at least one of a seating area and a work surface within the at least partially enclosed area.

31. The workspace divider of claim 30 wherein the first wall extends from a first end supported on a floor to a second end supporting the ceiling and wherein the second wall extends from a first end supported by a desk supported above the floor by a support structure to a second end supporting the ceiling.

32. The workspace divider of claim 31 wherein the support structure includes two legs extending from an underside of the desk to the floor to support the desk and the second wall.

33. The workspace divider of claim 31 wherein the desk extends from a first end engaged with the second wall to a second end displaced from the first wall to form a passage between the first wall and the second end of the desk designed to receive a chair.

34. The workspace divider of claim 30 wherein the horizontally extending surface extends from the first wall to form the seating area and further comprising another horizontally extending surface supported by the second wall to form a desk arranged opposite the seating area.

35. The workspace divider of claim 30 wherein the seating area forms a bench extending transversely across the first wall.

36. The workspace divider of claim 35 further comprising another horizontally extending surface supported by the second wall to form another seating area arranged opposite the seating area.

37. The workspace divider of claim 36 wherein the another seating area forms a bench extending transversely across the second wall.

38. The workspace divider of claim 30 further comprising a padded lining extending over a surface of the first wall, the second wall, and the ceiling facing the partially enclosed area.

39. The workspace divider of claim 38 wherein the padded lining includes a plurality of padding sections extending transversely across the first wall, the second wall, and the ceiling.

40. The workspace divider of claim 30 further comprising an elongated slice extending through at least a portion of the ceiling and at least one of the first and the second wall to form an elongated viewing passage.

41. A workspace divider system comprising: a first bench extending from a first side to a second side between a front side and a rear side and supported above a floor by a first support structure; a second bench extending from a first side to a second side between a front side and a rear side and supported above the floor by a second support structure, wherein the front side of the first bench and the front side of the second bench are aligned to extend in parallel; a first wall supported by the first bench along the rear side to form a back for the first bench; a second wall supported by the second bench along the rear side forming a back for the second bench; and a ceiling supported by the first wall and the second wall over the first bench and the second bench.

42. The workspace divider of claim 41 wherein the first support structure and second support structure include a pair of legs extending from an underside of the first bench and the second bench, respectively.

43. The workspace divider of claim 42 wherein the pair of legs extending from the underside of the first bench and the pair of legs extending from the underside of the second bench form the sole support of the workspace divider above the floor.

44. The workspace divider of claim 41 further comprising a padded lining extending over the first bench, the second bench, the first wall, the second wall, and the ceiling.

45. The workspace divider of claim 44 wherein the padded lining includes a plurality of padding sections extending transversely across first bench, the second bench, the first wall, the second wall, and the ceiling.

46. The workspace divider of claim 41 further comprising rounded interfaces joining the first wall and the ceiling and the second wall and the ceiling.

47. The workspace divider of claim 41 further comprising rounded interfaces joining the first wall to the first bench and the second wall to the second bench.

48. The workspace divider of claim 41 further comprising an elongated slice extending through at least a portion of the ceiling and at least one of the first and the second wall to form an elongated viewing passage.

49. A workspace divider system comprising: a first wall extending vertically from a lower end supported by a floor to an upper end; a desk supported by an associated support structure above the floor; a second wall extending vertically from a lower end supported by the desk to an upper end; a ceiling supported at a first end by the upper end of the first wall and at a second end arranged opposite the first end by the upper end of the second wall.

50. The workspace divider of claim 49 wherein the desk extends from a first end engaged with the second wall to a second end displaced from the first wall to form a passage between the first wall and the second end of the desk designed to receive a chair arranged proximate to the desk.

51. The workspace divider of claim 49 wherein the support structure consists of a pair of legs extending from the floor to support the desk.

52. The workspace divider of claim 49 further comprising rounded interfaces joining the upper end of the first wall to the ceiling and the lower end of the second wall to the desk.

53. The workspace divider of claim 52 further comprising a right-angle interface joining the upper end of the second wall to the ceiling.

54. The workspace divider of claim 49 further comprising an elongated slice extending through at least a portion of the ceiling and at least one of the first and the second wall to form an elongated viewing passage.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

Not applicable.

STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

Not applicable.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention is related to workspace dividing systems and, more particularly, to a modular workspace dividing system. The workspace dividing system may include a variety of features, such as a continuous viewing slice extending over a portion of the dividing system. Additionally, the workspace dividing system may include an integrated working environment, for example, a seat or a desk.

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

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

Additionally, many such designs must be capable of accommodating traditional office components, such as chairs, desks and the like. Accordingly, various divider systems have been designed that are then accompanied by traditional desk and chair sets. However, traditional desks and chairs often include design elements that are in stark contrast to the design elements of many open-concept office systems. For example, many open-concept office systems are highly modular, whereas traditional desk and chair designs are autonomous units. Therefore, while these components can be coupled to form suitable work environments, they may reduce the modularity of the overall system and detract from the aesthetic design.

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

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention overcomes the aforementioned drawbacks by providing a divider or wall system that is flexible and modular. Each system includes numerous features that are readily adaptable to non-traditional offices and aid in creating structures, such as personal workspaces or meeting/conference rooms. For example, the systems may include integrated work surfaces, seating surfaces, and/or informational areas, or may include viewing passages.

In accordance with one aspect of the invention, a workspace divider system is disclosed that includes first and second vertically extending walls having a respective upper and lower edge and respective side edges. The first and second walls are arranged in parallel to partially enclose an area. A ceiling is included that extends between the first and second walls to join the upper edges of the first and second walls and at least partially cover the partially enclosed area. An elongated slice extends through the ceiling and the first and/or second walls to create a continuous viewing passage to and from the partially enclosed area through the ceiling and the first and/or second walls.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a workspace divider system is disclosed that includes a dividing wall having an upper edge, a lower edge, and opposing side edges. A first informational area is formed on the dividing wall and arranged proximate to the upper edge to display a first set static and/or dynamic information. A second informational area is formed on the dividing wall and separated from the first informational area to display a second set static and/or dynamic information. One or more elongated slices are formed in the dividing wall to provide a viewing passage through the dividing wall. Specifically, the one or more elongated slices are arranged between the first informational area and the second informational area to divide the first informational area and the second informational area at a height on the dividing wall where at least a portion of the viewing passage is aligned at an average eye level of an individual standing proximate to the dividing wall.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the invention, a workspace divider system is disclosed that includes first and second vertically extending walls having a respective upper and lower edge and respective side edges. Also, the first and second walls are arranged in parallel to partially enclose an area. A ceiling is included that extends between the first and second walls to join the upper edges of the first and second walls and at least partially cover the partially enclosed area. A plurality of coaxially aligned elongated slices are included that extend through the ceiling and the first and/or second walls. The slices have a common width to create viewing passages to and from the partially enclosed area.

In accordance with still another aspect of the invention, a workspace divider system is disclosed that includes a vertically extending wall having an upper edge and a lower edge and side edges. The workspace divider system also includes a ceiling extending from the upper edge of the wall and configured to engage a building wall to at least partially enclose an area thereunder. An elongated slice is included that extends through the ceiling and the wall to create a continuous viewing passage to and from the partially enclosed area through the ceiling and the wall.

In accordance with a further aspect of the invention, a workspace divider system is disclosed that includes first and second vertically extending walls having a respective upper and lower edge and respective side edges. Also, the first and second walls are arranged in parallel to partially enclose an area. A ceiling extends between the first and second walls to join the upper edges of the first and second walls and at least partially cover the partially enclosed area. At least two elongated slices having a common width extend through the ceiling and/or the first and second walls to create a set of viewing passages to and from the partially enclosed area.

In accordance with still another aspect of the invention, a workspace divider system is disclosed that includes a first wall and a second wall arranged as parallel, vertically-extending panels. A ceiling is supported by the first wall and the second wall to at least partially enclose an area within the first wall, the second wall, and the ceiling. A horizontally extending surface is included that is supported by the first wall and/or the second wall to create a seating area and/or a work surface within the at least partially enclosed area.

In accordance with another aspect of the invention, a workspace divider system is disclosed that includes a first bench extending from a first side to a second side between a front side and a rear side and supported above a floor by a first support structure. The workspace divider system also includes a second bench extending from a first side to a second side between a front side and a rear side and supported above the floor by a second support structure. Furthermore, the front side of the first bench and the front side of the second bench are aligned to extend in parallel. A first wall is supported by the first bench along the rear side to form a back for the first bench and a second wall is supported by the second bench along the rear side forming a back for the second bench. A ceiling is supported by the first wall and the second wall over the first bench and the second bench.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the invention, a workspace divider system is disclosed that includes a first wall extending vertically from a lower end supported by a floor to an upper end. A desk is supported by an associated support structure above the floor. A second wall extends vertically from a lower end supported by the desk to an upper end. A ceiling is supported at a first end by the upper end of the first wall and at a second end arranged opposite the first end by the upper end of the second wall.

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

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a plurality of divider systems in accordance with one aspect of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a side elevational view of a plurality of divider systems in accordance with another aspect the present invention arranged in one arrangement;

FIG. 3 is a side elevational view of the plurality of divider systems of FIG. 2;

FIG. 4 is a side elevational view of a single divider unit in accordance with one aspect of the present invention having an integrated work surface;

FIG. 5 is a side elevational view of a single divider unit in accordance with another aspect of the present invention having an integrated seating area;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a divider unit in accordance with one aspect of the invention coupled with a desk system;

FIG. 7 is a perspective view of a divider unit in accordance with another aspect of the invention coupled with the desk system of FIG. 6;

FIG. 8 is a perspective view of another divider system in accordance with the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a side elevational view of the divider system of FIG. 8;

FIG. 10 is a rear elevational view of the divider system of FIGS. 8 and 9;

FIG. 11 is a side cross-sectional view of the divider system of FIGS. 8 through 10 illustrating a viewing passage configuration;

FIG. 12 is a side cross-sectional view of a divider system designed for individual use having a viewing passage designed for use with a display;

FIG. 13 is a side cross-sectional view of a divider system designed for individual use having integrated work and seating surfaces and a viewing passage configuration;

FIG. 14 is a side cross-sectional view of a divider system designed for individual use having an integrated work surface and a viewing passage configuration;

FIG. 15 is a side cross-sectional view of a pair of divider systems having complementary viewing passages;

FIGS. 16 and 17 are side views of paired divider systems arranged in various of configurations; and

FIG. 18 is a perspective view of a divider system having integrated informational areas and a viewing passage configuration.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, a plurality of divider systems is arranged to collectively form a work environment 10. The work environment 10 includes a plurality of elongated desks 12. Coupled with the desks 12 are a variety of arched workspace divider systems 14. Each workspace divider system 14 includes a first vertically extending wall 16 and a second vertically extending wall 18 that are arranged in opposition to one another such that the walls 16, 18 are aligned in parallel. Each wall 16, 18 extends from a lower end 20 to an upper end 22. Arranged at the lower end 20 is a support structure designed to support the walls 16, 18 above either a floor 24 or a desk 12. A ceiling 26 extends between the first and second walls 16, 18 to join the upper end 22 of each. Accordingly, the workspace divider system 14 forms an arch shape that partially encloses a workspace area 28 therein.

The arch-shaped design of the divider system 14 can be readily adapted in a variety of arrangements. For example, by varying the lengths of the vertically extending walls 16, 18, a particular workspace divider may be designed to enclose a variety of workspace areas 28. As will be described in detail below, the size of the vertically extending walls 16, 18 may be varied such that the first vertically extending wall 16 is designed to be supported above the floor 24 whereas a second vertically extending wall is designed to be supported on the desk 12. In this regard, the first vertically extending wall 16 may include legs 30 that form the support structure extending from the lower end 20 of the vertically extending wall 16 to engage the floor 24. In this regard, as will be described, when an individual's positioned at the desk 12, the workspace divider system 14 encloses the workspace area along the front top and rear orientations with respect to the individual positioned therein while leaving open for free access and mobility the sides of the individual positioned therein. Accordingly, an individual positioned within the partially enclosed workspace area 28 is provided a feeling of having personal space while any feelings of being enclosed within a confined area are alleviated do to the openness on the individual's sides.

Alternatively, the workspace divider 14 may include vertically extending walls 16, 18 that are of similar length and design to stand above the desk 12. Accordingly, the partially enclosed workspace area 28 surrounds the sides of the individual positioned to work at the desk 12. In this regard, the individual is provided privacy from side-to-side so as not to feel intruded upon by individuals working in close proximity. However, the individual is provided with a wide degree of easily accessible openness by merely backing away from the desk.

Within some arrangements, the ceiling 26 of the workspace divider system 14 may be designed to extend the partially enclosed workspace area 28 across multiple desks 12. Within this arrangement, individuals are provided with a degree of privacy from others positioned across the desk 12; however, collaboration between individuals located at separate desks 12 is encouraged due to the fact that the workspace divider system 14 spans multiple desks that would otherwise seem to be isolated from one another. Similarly, a workspace divider system may be designed to extend over a single set of adjacent desks 12. As such, the level of privacy provided to an individual is reduced in favor of collaboration between individuals seated facing one another at a common desk area.

Regardless of the size, shape, or specific orientation of the workspace divider system 14 with respect to associated desks 12 or floor space 24, a plurality of features is shared by the workspace dividers 14 that serve to tie the design of the workspace divider systems 14 together and provide a level of functionality not otherwise achieved by traditional workspace divider systems. As previously stated, the workspace divider systems 14 share an arch shape formed by the common arrangement of the two vertically extending sidewalls 16, 18 and the ceiling 26 joining those two walls 16, 18. Furthermore, each workspace divider system includes an elongated slice 32 that extends through at least one of the two walls 16, 18 and continues through the ceiling 26. In this regard, a continuous viewing passage to and from the partially enclosed workspace area 28 is formed. As will be described, this continuous and elongated viewing passage 32 provides a variety of functionality not otherwise achieved by viewing passages that are not sufficiently elongated or continuously extending through a sidewall as well as a ceiling of a workspace divider system.

Referring now to FIG. 2, when an individual is located within the partially enclosed workspace area 28 enclosed by the workspace divider system 14 arranged to extend transversely from the desk 12 onto the floor 24, the individual is provided with a high degree of privacy when viewed from the front or rear. Though contrary to the intuitive understanding of the workspace divider system 14, in function, the viewing passage 32 serves to enhance the level of privacy provided by the workspace divider system 14. That is, while the formation of a passage through an enclosing structure would lead one to believe that the passage decreases the level of privacy provided by an individual located within the structure, the viewing passage 32 formed in the workspace divider system 14 serves to enhance privacy.

For example, the elongated design of the viewing passage 32 provides a narrow portal through to view the partially enclosed workspace area 28. Accordingly, individuals located outside of the partially enclosed workspace area 28 can use the viewing passage to determine whether an individual is currently occupying the partially enclosed workspace area 28 without otherwise disturbing such an individual. Since occupancy of the partially enclosed workspace area 28 is made readily apparent by the viewing passage 32, individuals working around or passing nearby the workspace divider system 14 are more likely to take efforts to not disturb the individual within the partially enclosed workspace area 28.

The design and arrangement of the viewing passage when coupled with the design of the workspace divider system 14 creates an overall system that is in stark contrast to a traditional workspace divider or partition system, which does not allow one working around or passing by an area enclosed by a traditional partition system to view the enclosed workspace area. By not providing a means through which to identify occupancy, it is more likely that the workspace area will be assumed to be unoccupied. As such, an individual occupying the workspace area assumed to be vacant may be disturbed by work habits or vocal tones of those in the area that would otherwise be tempered if it were known that the workspace area were occupied. Therefore, the workspace divider system 14 provides a significant functional improvement over traditional systems that do not include viewing passages.

Furthermore, the viewing passage 32 provides individuals located within the partially enclosed workspace area 28 with a constant and consistent view of the surrounding area, which typically increases the individual's comfort when located within the partially enclosed workspace area 28. That is, while being even partially enclosed within a particular area can be disconcerting and/or uncomfortable for some people, the viewing passage 32 serves to reduce or eliminate feelings of being enclosed while still providing a high degree of privacy. Also, by providing an individual located within the partially enclosed workspace area 28 with an avenue through which to view the surrounding area, the likelihood that the individual will be inclined to leave the partially enclosed workspace area 28 and review the surrounding area is reduced. For example, the viewing passage 32 provides a means through which to identify sources of noise or other interruptions without requiring the individual to leave the partially enclosed workspace area 28. As such, the individual's focus will often remain fixed on the task at hand despite small interruptions.

Additionally, referring to FIGS. 1 and 2, it is contemplated that the viewing passage 32 may take a variety of shapes or sizes. That is, through primarily illustrated as forming a rectangular passage, the viewing passage 32 may be rounded, tapered, and the like. For example, the viewing passage 32 may include a taper that creates a tip 33 or one of many other shapes. Also, while preferably having a relatively narrow width with respect to overall length, it is contemplated that the viewing passage 32 may have a variety of sizes. For example, in accordance with one embodiment, it is contemplated that the viewing passage 32 may have a maximum width of between approximately an inch and a foot.

Referring now to FIG. 3, the arch design of the workspace divider system 14 enables the workspace divider system 14 to be readily coupled with or arranged in close proximity to other workspace divider systems 14. In this regard, the highly modular nature of the workspace divider system 14 enables one to select from a wide variety of arrangements and configurations.

For example, as is common in many modern workspaces, it may be desirable to maximize the number of occupants supported by a given area. As such, the workspace divider system 14 is designed to be closely coupled with adjacent workspace divider systems 14 while still providing a high degree of privacy and personal space for individuals operating within each partially enclosed workspace area 28. For example, in the arrangement illustrated in FIG. 3, workspaces may be arranged proximate one another over a particular table or adjacent tables 12 while still providing sufficient privacy to individuals facing one another by blocking the majority of the view into the adjacent workspace area 28. At the same time, the closeness of adjacent workspace areas 28 is exploited by allowing individuals to readily view or communicate with others located in adjacent workspace areas 28 through the viewing passage 32. This is directly contrary to traditional partition systems or workspace divider systems that often seek to provide the highest degree of isolation between individuals at the cost of impeding direct communication between individuals that could otherwise raise productivity and efficiency within the workspace.

As the number of individuals working in a common area is increased, and more and more partitions or workspace divider systems are employed to provide personal workspaces for each individual, the dispersement, and more importantly, the availability of lighting sources 34 and, particularly, natural lighting sources is proportionally decreased. However, the present invention overcomes this drawback by extending the elongated slit formed in the first and/or second vertically extending walls 16, 18 onto the ceiling 26 to form the continuous viewing passage 32. Accordingly, the continuous viewing passage 32 allows light 35 to enter the partially enclosed workspace 28 from the top as well as the sides of the workspace divider system 14. Furthermore, when adjacent workspace divider systems 14 are aligned, the continuous viewing passages 32 formed in each aligned workspace divider system 14 are likewise aligned and allow light to be shared between the adjacent partially enclosed workspace areas 28.

Referring now to FIGS. 4 and 5, the workspace divider system 14 may be adapted to utilize spaces that would otherwise be unsuitable for working environments using traditional dividers systems or partition systems, such as along building walls. For example, it is contemplated that the workspace divider system 14 may include a single vertically extending wall 16 coupled to the ceiling 26, which extends from the upper end 22 of the vertically extending walls 16 to engage a wall of a structure or building 36 housing the workspace divider system 14. In this arrangement, the workspace divider system 14 provides the level of privacy described above with respect to FIGS. 1-3 while utilizing a space that might otherwise go unused due to its close proximity to the building wall 36. Within this arrangement, it is contemplated that the viewing passage 32 extends along the vertically extending wall 16 and continues through at least a portion of the ceiling 26. In this regard, the workspace divider system 14, though including one less vertically extending wall than the arrangement described above, provides the same viewing and light transmitting advantages of above-described arrangement having a full arch shape.

To further facilitate the integration of the workspace divider system 14 into a variety of environments, it is contemplated that the workspace divider system 14 may include integrated seating or work surfaces. For example, as shown in FIG. 4, a horizontally extending surface 38 may be supported by the wall 16 so as to form a work surface or desk-like area on which individuals seated within the partially enclosed workspace area 28 may conduct work. Similarly, as shown in FIG. 5, the workspace divider system may be coupled with an integrated seating surface 40. By coupling either a work surface 38 or a seating surface 40 with the workspace divider system 14, the modularity of the overall system is increased, thereby further streamlining the process of integrating the workspace divider system 14 into particular environments.

Referring now to FIGS. 6 and 7, it is contemplated that the elongated slices formed along the vertically extending walls 16, 18 and the ceiling 26 may come in a variety of arrangements and configurations designed to fit the specific needs of a given work environment. For example, with respect to FIG. 6, it is contemplated that multiple elongated slices 42, 44, 46 may be formed across the vertically extending walls 16, 18 and the ceiling 26. By separating the various elongated slices 42, 44, 46 from one another, it is possible to adapt a particular slice for the needs of an associated environment. For example, it may be desirable to include a transparent shield or other noise blocking device within an elongated slice 42 formed in the wall 18 extending above the desk 12 so that an individual seated at the desk 12 would not be distracted by noise passing through the elongated slide 42. Also, it may be desirable to include one or more filters or diffusers within an elongated slice 44 formed in the ceiling 26 so that light passing therethrough will be dispersed throughout the partially enclosed workspace area 28 in a desirable manner. Regardless of the particular insets or inlays formed within the various elongated slices 42, 44, 46, each of the elongated slices 42, 44, 46 is aligned so that they extend coaxially along a common axis 47. As such, users working within the partially enclosed workspace area 28 are provided with a consistent presentation of light and/or sound passing through the workspace divider system 14 into the partially enclosed workspace area 28.

Referring now to FIG. 7, it is contemplated that the elongated slices formed in the workspace divider system 14 may be further segregated or partitioned to provide increased flexibility when selecting insets or inlays to be included within the elongated slices. However, each of the elongated slices 42a, 42b, 44a, 44b 46a, 46b is designed to have a common width 48 so that a consistent presentation of light and sound is provided to an individual working with the partially enclosed workspace area 28.

Referring now to FIGS. 8 and 9, as described with respect to FIGS. 4 and 5, it is contemplated that the workspace divider system 14 may be coupled with various horizontal surfaces that can be used as work surfaces or seating surfaces. As shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, this coupling of various surfaces may be further extended to create a highly modular workspace divider system 14 having integrated seating areas 50 or, as will be described, various work surfaces. Furthermore, the coupling of various horizontally and vertically extending surfaces may present rounded or curved surfaces or joints transitioning between a vertical surface and a horizontal surface or vise versa.

In particular, the workspace divider system 14 again includes first and second walls 16, 18 that are arranged as parallel, vertically-extending panels. The ceiling 26 is supported through a rounded transition 51 to the first and second walls 16, 18 to at least partially enclose the workspace area 28 therein. Also supported by the first and second walls 16, 18 are horizontally extending surfaces 52, 54 that form the seating areas 50. The horizontally extending surfaces 52, 54, and, thus, the first and second walls 16, 18 and ceiling 26, are supported by support structures 56, 58. The support structures 56, 58 include a pair of legs 60, 62 that cooperate to support the workspace divider system 14 above the floor 24.

It is contemplated that a padded lining 64 may be included that extends over the surface of the first and second walls 16, 18, the ceiling 26, and the horizontally extending surfaces 52, 54. The padded lining 64 includes a plurality of padding sections 76 that extend transversely across the first and second walls 16, 18, the ceiling 26, and the horizontally extending surfaces 52, 54.

One or more elongated slices may be formed within the workspace divider system 14 that are coupled to create the elongated viewing passage 32 extending over one or more of the walls 16, 18 and ceiling 26. In this regard, the advantages and features described above with respect to FIGS. 1-7 are likewise provided to those utilizing the workspace divider system 14. For example, referring to FIGS. 10 and 11, the viewing passage 32 serves to readily notify others that the partially enclosed workspace area 28 is being occupied or utilized without the need to disturb those located therein because individuals located within the partially enclosed workspace area 28 are readily viewable through the viewing passage 32.

While the workspace divider system 14 described with respect to FIGS. 8 through 11 is designed for collective or collaborative use among multiple individuals simultaneously, it is also contemplated that the workspace divider system 14 may be readily adapted for individual use. For example, referring now to FIG. 12, the workspace divider system 14 includes a single seating area 68 supported above a pair of legs forming a support structure 70 for the seating area 68 and an associated wall 18. The opposing wall 16 is designed to extend directly from the floor 24 to support the ceiling 26 along with the combination of the wall 18, seat 68, and support structure 70. Within this arrangement, a user seated in the seating area 68 is positioned to view the wall 16 opposite the seating area 68 in an arrangement that is conducive to viewing display systems 72 or other information communication devices.

It is contemplated that the workspace divider system 84 includes the viewing passage 32 that has been adapted to extend along a portion of the wall 18 and ceiling 26. However, within the illustrated arrangement, the viewing passage 32 extends only along a portion of the ceiling 26 and does not extend into the wall 16. As such, lighting sources 74, such as would be commonly located above the workspace divider system 14 to deliver light down thereupon, do not interfere with the viewing of the display 72. By extending the viewing passage only over a portion of the ceiling 26, light 76 emitted by the light source 74 is permitted to pass through the ceiling 26 to illuminate the partially enclosed workspace 28, but is precluded from shining directly onto the display 72 and, thereby, diminishing the viewability of the display 72.

Referring now to FIG. 13, it is contemplated that the workspace divider system 14 may be designed to include both a seating area 68 and a work surface area 78. In this regard, the workspace divider system 14 is highly modular and self-sufficient so that traditional desk and chair systems may be foregone in favor of the integrated seating area 68 and work surface 78. Additionally, by integrating the work surface 78 and seating area 68 into the workspace divider system 14, the overall size of the workspace divider system 14 may be reduced into a highly compact form that is readily movable and easily adaptable to fit into a variety of spaces.

On the other hand, referring now to FIG. 14, the workspace divider system 14 may be designed to accommodate a traditional office chair 80 to seat an individual comfortably in front of the integrated work surface 78. While this arrangement of the workspace divider system 14 is not quite as compact as the workspace divider system described with respect to FIG. 13, as shown in FIGS. 15-17, the workspace divider system is highly adaptable to be arranged within a variety of configurations within various work environments and can be readily coupled with additional workspace divider systems 14 to provide a variety of functionality and features not available in traditional workspace divider or partition systems.

For example, referring to FIG. 15, the elongated viewing passages 32a, 32b may be arranged to align when multiple workspace divider systems 14 are arranged together. In particular, when the workspace divider systems 14 are arranged in a “back-to-back” formation, a first set of elongated viewing passages 32a provide a line of sight 82 into and out of the workspace area 28. Additionally, a second set of elongated viewing passages 32b provide a viewing and sound portal between the two workspace divider systems 14 to encourage collaborative workflows.

When two workspace divider systems 14 are arranged tightly together in the back-to-back formation, it may be desirable to divide the first and second sets of elongated viewing passages 32a, 32b by a solid separator 84 that increases structural integrity of the workspace divider system 14 and increases privacy. However, referring to FIGS. 16 and 17, when a hallway is formed between adjacent workspace divider systems 14, it may be preferable for the viewing passage 32 to extend continuously over the walls 16, 18 and ceiling 26.

Referring now to FIG. 18, it is also contemplated that the above-described features of the elongated viewing passage 32 may be extended to an individual workspace divider panel 90. Furthermore, the elongated viewing passage 32 may be horizontally oriented within the workspace divider panel 90. Within this arrangement, the elongated viewing passage 32 may form a divider between various sections of the workspace divider panel 90. For example, a first section 92 of the workspace divider panel 90 may include a first informational area 94 and a second section 96 of the workspace divider panel 90 may include a second informational area 96. As shown, the first and second sections 92, 96 and respective informational areas 94, 98 are separated by the elongated viewing passage 32. Accordingly, a logical division is created between the first informational area 94 and the second informational area 98.

In accordance with one embodiment, the elongated viewing passage 32 is arranged at a height on the panel 90 where at least a portion of the viewing passage 32 is aligned at an average eye level of an individual standing proximate to the panel 90. This logical division can aid in conveying different types of information and/or may facilitate a division between the manner in which information is conveyed by each informational area 94, 98. For example, should both informational areas 94, 98 include cork boards for posting information, the separation created by the elongated viewing passage 32 aids in categorizing or differentiating information contained in each area 94, 98, such as by topic, date, or the like. Additionally, the division created by the elongated viewing passage 32 may aid in communicating information over differing mediums, such as static display boards (e.g., wipe or cork boards) and dynamic display systems (e.g., monitors other displays).

Therefore, the above-described invention provides a dividing system that is capable of creating personal space within a work environment while still providing the feel, look, and various advantages provided by large, open work environments that can be shared by many individuals. In particular, the above-described invention provides a divider or wall system that is flexible and modular. Each system includes numerous features that are readily adaptable to non-traditional offices and aid in creating structures, such as personal workspaces or meeting/conference rooms. The systems may include integrated work surfaces, seating surfaces, and/or informational areas, or may include viewing passages.

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