Title:
Building-insert module and associated methodology
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A prefabricated, building-insert module adapted for insertion to create in-place room infrastructure in an open, plural-story, main, column-and-beam building frame which is defined by columns and beams, the module including a prepared floor sub-module having an upper surface, and an at least partially completed, three-dimensional room sub-module anchored to and rising upwardly from the upper surface of the floor sub-module. The floor sub-module acts variously as a fabrication, transportation and installation-lifting pallet for the entire module, and the room sub-module is placed in a continuous state of vertical compression so as never, during transportation, lifting, and ultimate, in-place installation, to go into a state of vertical tension.



Inventors:
Simmons, Robert J. (Hayward, CA, US)
Application Number:
12/584703
Publication Date:
03/11/2010
Filing Date:
09/09/2009
Assignee:
ConXtech, Inc.
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
52/745.13, 52/236.3
International Classes:
E04H1/00; E04B1/19
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
DEMUREN, BABAJIDE A
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
JON M. DICKINSON, P.C. (PORTLAND, OR, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A system featuring a prefabricated, building-insert module adapted for insertion to create in-place room infrastructure in an open, plural-story, main, column-and-beam building frame which is defined by columns and principal beams, said module comprising a floor sub-module having an upper surface, and an at least partially completed, three-dimensional room sub-module anchored to and rising upwardly from said upper surface of said floor sub-module.

2. The system of claim 1, wherein said room sub-module has a defined footprint, and said floor sub-module has a perimetral configuration and outline defining a floor sub-module footprint which is permissively independent of said room sub-module's said defined footprint.

3. The system of claim 1, wherein the building frame has plural story levels each characterized by a grid of relatively angularly disposed beams defining a plurality of distributed, next-adjacent story panes having perimetral outlines each defining a beam-grid footprint, and said floor sub-module's said defined footprint is permissively independent of said beam-grid footprint.

4. The system of claim 1, wherein the building frame is a plural-story building frame, and said module includes pick structure operatively connected to said floor sub-module and said room sub-module, constructed to enable machine lifting of the module to an elevation in the frame which is above ground level using the module's floor sub-module as a lifting pallet.

5. The system of claim 4, wherein said pick structure includes elongate tensioned structure anchored to said floor sub-module, and placing said room sub-module in a condition of vertical compression.

6. The system of claim 4, wherein the building frame is made of steel, and said floor sub-module includes lateral edges formed with steel lateral edge structure which is attachable, as by welding, to the steel in said frame, and a concrete floor body contained within said edge structure.

7. The system of claim 1, wherein the building frame is made of steel, and said floor sub-module includes lateral edges formed with steel lateral edge structure which is attachable, as by welding, to the steel in said frame, and a concrete floor body contained within said edge structure.

8. The system of claim 1, wherein said floor sub-module is constructed to act, for said module of which it is a part, at least as one of (a) a room sub-module fabrication pallet, (b) a module transport pallet, (c) a module lifting pallet, and (d) a fire-resisting structure for and adjacent the underside of said room sub-module.

9. A building-insert module methodology associated with an open building frame which is defined by columns and beams, said methodology comprising creating a prefabricated module structure including (a) a floor sub-module having an upper surface, and (b) an at least partially completed, three-dimensional room sub-module anchored to and rising upwardly from the upper surface of the floor sub-module, with the created floor sub-module performing as a fabrication pallet for the creating of the room sub-module, transporting the module to an insertion staging site located adjacent such a building frame using the module's floor sub-module as a transport pallet, and from the mentioned staging site, lifting the thus transported module and inserting it into a selected location within the frame using the module's floor sub-module as a lifting pallet.

10. The methodology of claim 9, which further comprises, following creation of the mentioned room sub-module, placing that sub-module in a condition of vertical compression.

11. The methodology of claim 10, wherein said placing in compression involves utilizing tensioned pick structure which forms part of the created module, and said placing in compression is implemented to create a state of vertical compression in the room sub-module which will not allow the room sub-module to enter a state of vertical tension during said lifting.

12. A plural-story building structure comprising a column-and-beam building frame defining plural floor levels, on at least one of said levels, an installed, and building-frame-attached, building-insertion module having a floor sub-module and an overhead-supported room sub-module, and module-specific force-applying structure, independent of said building frame and operatively interposed said floor and room sub-modules in said module, placing and holding said room sub-module in vertical compression.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 61/191,694, filed Sep. 10, 2008, for “A Hierarchical-Autonomy, Footprint-Independent Building Insert Module System and Methodology”. The entire disclosure content of that provisional application is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention—multi-faceted in nature—pertains to plural-story, steel column and beam building structure, and in particular, to structure and methodology associated with the making, transporting, and installing into such a structure of what is referred to herein as a building-insert module, or as an in-place room infrastructure—a unit which includes a prepared, pallet-like floor sub-module which supports an integrated room sub-module. The room sub-module may be all, or only a part, of a completed room structure, such as a bathroom, utility room or kitchen. Depending upon, and appropriately associated with, the particular design of building in question, the floor sub-module portion of the proposed module is fabricated so as to have a generally planar construction which substantially matches (in plane, and perhaps also in certain basic component structure), and which is directly integratable in a “seamless” manner with, the building's pre-designed, directly adjacent floor structure.

One aspect, or facet, of the invention relates to preliminary, relative-size design-freedom considerations that are associated, hierarchically, with concepts of footprint-independence in two specific areas, or levels, involving the proposed module structure. One level of such independence involves the invention feature that the perimetral footprint of a module's room sub-module may have both positional and dimensional independence of the perimetral footprint of the associated floor sub-module, except for the fact that the footprint of the room sub-module will normally always be fully, and appropriately, “under-supported” by the “footprint area” of the floor sub-module.

A second, hierarchical level of footprint independence is that the perimetral footprint of a module's floor sub-module may, in both size and position, be independent of the specific grid-configuration “footprint” of the horizontal beam arrangement—a rectangle perimetered by four beams connected to columns—which defines a floor in a building frame. In other words, the size and configuration perimetrally of a module's floor sub-module need not particularly fit in any certain matching way with the usual, rectangular-grid footprint of beams deployed between columns on a floor level in a building frame.

Preferably, each floor sub-module includes suitably configured steel perimeter structures, such as angle-iron-formed structures, provided both to accommodate integration of that sub-module with adjacent, conventional, non-module floor structure, and for enabling anchoring, as by weld-attaching, of the associated module to selected beams in a frame at desired locations on a floor in the frame. Such anchoring, in cooperation with the mentioned perimeter configuring, positionally stabilizes a module in a column-and beam frame structure in a manner which allows for the subsequent construction (typically including the pouring in place of concrete) of adjacent floor structure in a manner to become co-planar and “seamlessly” coextensive with the structure of the module's floor sub-module.

Those skilled in the art will recognize that the just outlined, two, hierarchical, levels of footprint independence offer a great deal of design versatility in the thinking lying behind preparations for the construction of a plural-story building, and that therefore this footprint-independence “offering” is an important and notable feature and contribution of the invention. Such hierarchical footprint independence, in the sense of offered versatility, clearly decouples (a) room sub-module footprint dimensions from supporting base pallet footprint dimensions, and (b) pallet footprint dimensions from receiving building-frame beam-grid dimensions.

On another level, the invention involves a unique staged-assembling, transporting and delivering methodology, wherein each module is constructed under controlled, precision, factory conditions, with the assembly sequence featuring preassembly of that module's floor-sub-module which thereafter acts as a supporting pallet for the then, still-to-be-constructed room sub-module. From that point on, and throughout the subsequent completion of construction, delivery and installation of the associated module, the floor sub-module retains the role of a supporting pallet.

Thus, one can imagine something like an initial, assembly-line process, wherein a module's floor sub-module is first built, and then, as appropriate, moved as from construction station to construction station, if that is the building approach which one chooses to use, for the implementation of subsequent room sub-module, module-assembly steps. For example, in a typical practice of the invention, a precursor, floor sub-module “pallet”, which includes a steel perimeter frame (preferably though not necessarily selectively oriented angle iron components), a frame-spanning, corrugated steel web expanse, and over this web expanse a thin, poured, concrete floor, are first prepared. Thereafter, and to complete module construction, on this prepared pallet, the upright framing, wall structures, internal surface finishing, internal appliances, fittings, equipment, etc., including, if desired, wall-carried, pre-established electrical and fluid infrastructure, are built/applied, as by an assembly-line, factory process in any appropriate manner.

At the completion of module assembly, the floor sub-module in a module acts then acts as a transporting pallet for the module, and later on, also as a supporting pallet through which a lifting force may be employed at a building-frame construction site for the picking up, moving and placing of the module at the correct location within a building frame under construction. As was mentioned earlier, the floor sub-module portion in each module prepared for insertion into a building frame of a particular design is constructed so as to be substantially like, and fully compatible with, what will, after module insertion and preliminary installation, become the constructed, adjacent floor structure in the building.

Yet another important feature and facet of the methodology and structure of the present invention is module-internal compression involving the employment of elongate, upright tension rods, also used as lifting and handling “pick” rods, which are installed within and become part of each module as post-pallet, room-sub-module construction is undertaken. These rods have their bases anchored in the associated floor sub-module (the pallet), and extend upwardly therefrom to exposed, threaded, upper ends which project upwardly from upper portions of the associated room sub-module. Through these rods, near the completion of the assembly of a module, via nuts which are threaded onto the rods, tension is developed at an appropriate level in the rods to produce an internal, “module-specific” compression in the included room-sub-module—a compression which plays several important roles in the preferable implementation of this invention, and which preferably remains as a permanent feature of each module even after in-building installation.

In this context, the rod-tension/room-sub-module-compression which is thus introduced is such that, when a module is lifted through the rods—acting then as “pick” rods—tension is relieved, or relaxed (reduced) somewhat in the rods, but not to the point where compression in the room sub-module disappears. In other words, the associated room sub-module always remains in a state of compression, whereby, among other important consequences, room-finishing details, such as wall-surface details (like paint, wallpaper, etc.), when a module is lifted to be placed within a building frame, do not go into tension, and more specifically, are not allowed to enter a tension-stress condition wherein fissures and fractures and other forms of handling-deformation damage may take place. Accordingly, these pre-stressed, tensioned rods, which extend in a module from the floor sub-module pallet upwardly through, and to the top structure of the pallet-carried room sub-module, pre-load the entire room sub-module unit so as enable it to be picked up without such picking-up introducing damaging deformation strains into finished room structure geometry and internal features during transport movement of a module, and ultimate placement thereof into the appropriate location in a building frame structure.

Additionally, the employment of tension rods as described to introduce pre-compression into the room sub-module portion of a module effectively freezes and stabilizes the entire associated module into a state of high resistance to any seismic, or seismic-like, loads particularly during the stage of employment of a module where that module is being placed and initially anchored in place in what, at that point in time, will be an unfinished building structure.

Another very important feature of the present invention which is related directly to the employment of compression-introducing tension rods as just above described, is that, when a module has been placed at its desired location in a building frame, and ultimately when that module becomes integrated with other structure in a building, and recognizing, as has been stated above, that the condition of room sub-module compression is permanently retained, within an overall building structure containing modules constructed in accordance with the present invention, these modules function as internally, independently-self-stabilized “nuggets” of seismic-damage resistance—significant nuggets of such resistance that are completely independent of whatever “higher-level” seismic-damage resistance may be built into the associated, principal building frame structure per se. Thus, in, for example, a full-moment-frame building structure which is typically robustly resistant to seismic damage, within that structure, in accordance with the present invention, internally contained modules are further protected against seismic damage by virtue of the fact of their independent, compressively pre-stressed and pre-loaded stabilization.

These and other important and unique features and advantages which are attained and offered by the present invention will become more fully apparent as the description which follows below is read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

DESCRIPTIONS OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a fragmentary, two-vanishing-point, downwardly looking, and somewhat simplified, perspective view of several, above-ground-level stories, or floors, in an open, under-construction, plural-story main, column-and-beam building frame in which have been installed, as shown, several building-insert modules made and handled in accordance with the structure and methodology of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is an enlarged, fragmentary cross-sectional view taken generally along the line 2-2 in FIG. 1.

FIG. 3 is a greatly simplified, schematic, “fabrication-stage” drawing illustrating the making of a module in accordance with the methodology of the present invention.

FIGS. 4 and 5 are greatly enlarged, common-scale, fragmentary, cross-sectional views taken generally along the lines 4-4, and 5-5, respectively, in FIG. 3.

FIG. 6 is an enlarged, fragmentary view taken generally in the area in FIG. 3 which is partly encircled by the curved arrow numbered 6. This view shows an upper portion of a tensioning structure which is preferably employed in modules made in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 7, which is drawn on a larger scale than that employed in FIG. 6, presents a fragmentary, cross-sectional elevation taken very generally in the area in FIG. 3 which is partly encircled by the curved arrow numbered 7. This figure illustrates, effectively, the lower portion of the tensioning structure which is partially illustrated in FIG. 6.

FIG. 8 is a simplified, relatively small-scale elevation illustrating a tractor-trailer vehicle loaded for the delivery to a building site of several modules (three) made in accordance with the present invention.

FIG. 9 is a high-level schematic, plan illustration describing visually what are referred to herein as footprint-independence hierarchy features of the present invention—features that interrelate a beam-grid footprint in a building frame, a module floor sub-module footprint, and a module room sub-module footprint.

FIG. 10 is a simplified and schematic, fragmentary, isometric illustration picturing the practice, according to the present invention, of lifting from a building-site staging area, and then maneuvering, placing and installing modules made in accordance with the present invention at different locations, on different stories or floors, in an open, under-construction, column-and-beam main building frame, like the building frame which is pictured in FIG. 1.

Regarding all of these drawing figures, it should be understood that relative dimensions and proportions that are employed are not necessarily presented to scale.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning now to the drawings, and referring first of all to FIG. 1, indicated generally at 20 is a fragment of an open, plural-story (plural floor level) building main frame (or building structure) formed of upright, steel columns 32 and principal, horizontal, steel beams 24, the latter being arranged in a conventional, rectangular-footprint, such as grid (or beam-grid) footprint 26, whose sides and perimetral outline are defined by four beams 24, and whose corners are defined by four columns 22. As can be seen in this figure, beam-grid footprint 26, also referred to herein as a story pane, is indicated by an arrow-headed reference lead line at the upper left part of the figure pointing to an open rectangle of four, fully visible beams 24.

Installed in place, as will shortly be explained, in frame 20, in accordance with a preferred and best-mode implementation of the invention, is a system shown generally at 21 featuring at least one, but herein a plurality of, pre-fabricated building-insert module(s), six of which appear variously in FIG. 1. The structures and natures of these modules will be described in text which later follows.

The columns and principal beams in frame 20 are interconnected at nodes of interconnection, such as nodes 28, through appropriate, full-moment connections, such as the connections described in U.S. Pat. No. 6,837,016. These nodal column/beam connections, whose details form no part of the present invention, are illustrated herein only as simple (i.e., undetailed), column-side, beam-end nodal intersections. The fact that these connections are full-moment connections, however, is relevant to one performance-capability facet of one particular embodiment of the invention. The disclosure content of the just-identified '016 U.S. patent is hereby incorporated herein by reference.

Frame 20, which is illustrated in an open (as mentioned), under-construction condition, includes plural, above-ground floors (or stories) such as floors 30, 32, 34. Floors 30, 32, 34 are also referred to herein as story levels.

At appropriate design-determined locations at the common-floor (30, 32, 34) principal beam levels in these respective floors, auxiliary beams, such as the two shown partially (each) at 36, may optionally be installed to extend between two other beams, such as between two principal beams 24. Such auxiliary beams, where employed, cooperate with the principal beams to furnish under-support for overhead structure, such as for a main building floor structure 38 (a conventional under-floor structure which does not form any part of the present invention), and, among other things, also for modules made and installed in accordance with the system and methodology of the present invention—three of such modules, each of which is also referred to herein as an in-place room infrastructure, being indicated generally at 40, 42 on floor 30, and at 44 on floor 34. Each of these modules is in place in frame 20 in a partially completed, earlier pre-fabricated state, with module 40 being specifically pictured in a state possessing somewhat more included wall structure than that present in the other, five, illustrated modules, simply to illustrate the fact that modules according to the present invention may be installed in a building frame in different conditions of “initial” module completion.

Before turning detailed attention toward module-structure (and associated aspects of the present invention), a building-floor-structure matter to note in FIG. 1, viewed now along with the left-side portion of the cross-sectional illustration presented in FIG. 2, is the nature of certain aspects of main building floor structure (really an under-floor structure) 38. This under-floor structure (recognizing that many, different, specific and conventional types of under-floor structure could be employed) is formed herein with appropriately, differently sized (perimetered) horizontal panels 46. Each panel 46 includes a corrugated, horizontal steel expanse 48 which extends essentially to the perimetral edges of the panel, and distributed over this expanse, and over adjacent panels and their respective panel expanses 48, in a panel-to-panel “bridging” fashion, poured concrete 50, shown fragmentarily on floor 34, which produces a smooth-topped, common-plane, substantially overall “sub-floor” for the usual, later “finishing” installation of a more “dressy” over-floor structure (not shown). The elongate corrugations in different panel expanses 48 may be oriented with their long axes extending either in relative orthogonal, or in common, directions, as appropriate.

Turning now to the structures and features of the building-insert modules of this invention, and to associated module fabrication, handling and installation methodology, and referring initially and specifically to module 40, this module will be treated herein as being illustrative of the basic constructions of all of the modules proposed by the present invention, notwithstanding the fact that module 40, as was mentioned above, possesses a slightly greater degree of initial pre-fabrication completion in relation to the five other modules illustrated, for example, in FIG. 1. Accordingly, each module includes two, main portions, or sub-modules, including, as seen for module 40, a substantially planar floor sub-module 52, also referred to herein as a pallet, and a partially completed, three-dimensional room sub-module 54. Room sub-module 54 is appropriately anchored to, and rises upwardly from, the upper, generally planar surface 56 of the associated floor sub-module, 52. In the particular systemic embodiment of the present invention which is now being described, and simply for representative illustration purposes herein, each of the modules pictured in FIG. 1 is designed with pre-installed equipment, etc., for making up portions of a bathroom and portions of an adjacent kitchen. This condition of these modules is made clearly evident in FIG. 1. Those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that other kinds of room characters could easily be formed in the modules of the invention.

Adding attention now to FIGS. 3-7, inclusive, in addition to FIGS. 1 and 2, for an extended discussion surrounding the modules of the present invention, and beginning with FIG. 3, here there is illustrated, in very simple, high-level schematic-sequence form, a fabrication staging process which is uniquely proposed by the present invention for module construction and early handling. Keeping module reference numerals, and succession thereof, now employed in FIG. 3 compatible with the small amount of predecessor reference numerology employed so far with regard to module 40 in FIG. 1, FIG. 3 will be used illustratively to explain, generally, the basic fabrication methodology and chronology associated with this particular module. FIGS. 4-7, inclusive will be brought in, as appropriate, in support of FIG. 3 to describe in more detail module structural features which develop during module fabrication.

Regarding what is shown in these several drawing figures, and especially in FIG. 3, an “emerging” module, numbered 40, is there pictured in very simple and idealized, full-rectangular form, including, ultimately in “module-completed” condition on the right side of the figure, a planar floor sub-module 52 having a square-rectangular configuration, or footprint, of one size, and a generally square-rectangular room sub-module 54 (on floor sub-module 52) possessing four walls intersecting at four “normal” corners, and having a smaller size, square-rectangular configuration, or footprint, which is offset, or non-centered, laterally with respect to the footprint of the floor sub-module.

Accordingly, at the beginning of module construction, the first thing to occur is the formation of floor sub-module 52, including the providing therein of all structure which will be necessary to support, and work with, the subsequently to-be-fabricated room sub-module 54. As was previously mentioned, floor sub-module 52 has a substantially planar construction which, in accordance with an important feature of practice of the present invention, is intended to perform in various ways, and more specifically, as a supporting pallet throughout (a) the fabrication, (b) the thereafter transportation to a building-frame site, and (c) the then ultimate installation into a building frame, of a module.

Thus, appearing toward the lower left corner of FIG. 3 is initially-constructed module floor sub-module 52 which, as was just mentioned generally above, is illustrated in FIG. 3 in the form of a relatively simple, basic square. This floor sub-module includes a generally rectangular perimetral frame 58 which defines the perimetral configuration and outline of the floor sub-module, and more specifically, defines for this sub-module what is referred to herein as a defined floor sub-module footprint. Perimetral frame 58 herein is formed for illustration purposes from four, end-joined, steel angle-iron components 60, 62, 64, 66, which components define what is referred to herein as lateral edge structure (with edges) for floor sub-module 52.

With respect to these four angle-iron components, components 60, 64, 66 are oriented with one each of their two flanges occupying an upright plane “banding” a lateral side, or edge, of the floor sub-module, and with their other, respective, flanges, in-turned inwardly under these edges on the underside of the floor sub-module. Component 62, on the other hand, is oriented somewhat differently, and more specifically, with one of its flanges lying in an upright plane along an edge in the floor sub-module, and its other flange extending generally horizontally and laterally outwardly from that edge.

These conditions for the mentioned, four angle-iron components are pictured not only in FIG. 3, but especially well for components 62, 64 and 66 in FIGS. 4 and 5. A reason for the somewhat different, outwardly-flange-projecting disposition provided for angle-iron component 62 is that this disposition makes the outwardly-turned flange in this component available as a support shelf for assisting in lateral, welding (or other) joinder with appropriate steel structure furnished adjacent the edge of a building floor panel 46, as is illustrated, and as will later be more fully explained, in and with respect to FIG. 2 in the drawings which illustrates such joinder in relation to the floor sub-module which forms part of module 44.

As was mentioned, floor sub-module 52 is prepared to include suitably all structure which is necessary for the subsequent anchoring to it of still-to-be-fabricated room sub-module 54. In order to maintain simplicity in the drawings, and yet to focus attention importantly on another significant facet and feature of the present invention which involves such “anchoring” structure, illustrated schematically at the left side in FIG. 3 in the drawings, with respect to the stage of module fabrication which involves the making of floor sub-module 52, are four, upwardly extending, elongate, threaded tensioning rods, or tensioned structure, 68, three of which rods are illustrated only fragmentarily in the FIG. 3, and one of which is illustrated in full length, capped at its upper end by a module-lifting eyelet 70 (to be further discussed later herein).

These tensioning rods are also referred to herein as module-specific force-applying structure, and the rods, along with eyelets 70, are collectively referred to as pick structure.

Continuing with a description of the construction of floor sub-module 52 as illustrated herein, suitably joined, as by welding, inwardly of, and spanning the area bounded by, the four angle-iron components that define the perimeter structure in the floor sub-module, is a corrugated expanse of sheet steel 72 (see particularly FIGS. 4, 5 and 7), with the long axes of these corrugations in the particular floor sub-module now being described being shown at several locations at 74 in FIGS. 4, 5 and 7.

Formed as by pouring over corrugated expanse 72, and within the bounding structure furnished by the four angle-iron components, is a concrete floor body, or simply concrete, 76 which has a smooth, substantially planar, upper surface 78.

The previously mentioned, but not fully illustrated, structural components which are furnished within floor sub-module 52 to promote and support overhead anchoring of the soon-to-be-fabricated, overhead room sub-module 54, are preferably suitably anchored within the “volume” of the floor sub-module, captured either by attachment to a portion of steel corrugated expanse 72, and/or additionally captured by concrete 76. With reference made for a moment to FIG. 7, here one can see that the lower end of each tensioning rod 68, such as the one here shown, is fitted with an anchoring component 80 which is embedded in concrete 76.

Continuing with the high-level, module-fabrication description now being given in relation to FIG. 3, a broad arrow 82 represents transitioning of completed floor sub-module 52 to the next, sequential stage(s) for follow-on fabrication of overhead room sub-module 54. Significantly, floor sub-module 52 functions here and now as a fabrication-handling pallet for the entire remainder of the module-construction process. Two, nominally rectangular walls 84, 86 are pictured centrally in FIG. 3 to represent undergoing construction of the mentioned room sub-module. Specific, room sub-module infrastructure, such as bathroom, kitchen or other infrastructure is not pictured, and is not important to an understanding of the methodology of the invention. In an actual fabrication procedure, of course, appropriate infrastructure of the nature just generally indicated would be installed at the appropriate time(s) during module fabrication.

In relation to what is shown centrally in FIG. 3, it should be noted that the earlier-mentioned placement of tensioning rods 68 has been done with respect to the defined footprint of floor sub-module 52, whereby these tensioning rods will extend appropriately upwardly through, for example, wall structure to be constructed in the associated, overhead, room sub-module. With respect to walls 84, 86, three of these tensioning rods 68 are pictured in dashed lines included at appropriate “corner” locations within those walls, with the associated lifting eyelets 70 disposed free and clear above the walls. The fourth tensioning rod 68 is, in the central portion of FIG. 3, shown only fragmentarily.

A broad arrow 88, which is somewhat like previously mentioned arrow 82, indicates transition handling of what is now a substantially completed room sub-module 54 (on floor sub-module 52) to a final stage in the fabrication sequence which is pictured on the upper right side in FIG. 3. Accordingly, room sub-module 54 is here shown completed as a simple cube, with two more rectangular walls 90, 92 now in place, and with all of the four, relevant, previously installed, tensioning-rod-connected, lifting eyelets 70 clearly pictured at elevations above the completed walls in the room sub-module.

One thing to note particularly with what is illustrated especially at the upper, right-hand corner of FIG. 3 is that what may be thought of as the defined footprint of room sub-module 54—a rectangle, or square—is truly completely independent of the defined footprint of associated floor sub-module 52. More particularly, in relation to the simplified showing of module 40 which appears in FIG. 3, the defined footprint of room sub-module 54 is both smaller than, and contained within, the lateral boundaries of the defined footprint of floor sub-module 52, with the room sub-module being located for representative illustration purposes laterally off-center on floor sub-module 52, and specifically disposed toward one corner of the defined, generally rectangular floor-sub-module footprint.

Referring especially now to FIGS. 3 and 6, threaded/placed onto the upper exposed ends of tensioning rods 68 are appropriate nut and washer assemblies, like the one shown at 94 in FIG. 6. These assemblies effectively rest herein directly on, or otherwise indirectly, bearingly vertically upon, the upper portions of appropriate upper wall frame members, such as frame members 96, 98 in walls 90, 92, respectively. Assemblies 94 are employed to be tightened on the associated, receiving tensioning rods to produce, generally as indicated by the arrows 100 appearing in FIGS. 3 and 6, a user-selected level of vertical compression in the associated room sub-module.

Purposes for this established compression include, inter alia, (a) assuring that when the associated module is picked up, the room sub-module therein will not go into tension, so that, for example, any “delicate” wall-surfacing materials (or other tension-at-risk materials/structures) will be protected against cracking/fracture/etc. damage, and also (b) to assure that, as the overall module is handled and moved, and when thereafter the module has been placed at the desired location within a building frame, such as within building frame 20, it is and will be continuously stabilized against potentially damaging deformations which might be caused by any form of jostling, such as might be produced by a seismic event. Once installed within a building frame, such compression stabilization is preferably retained so as to produce a situation wherein an installed module, and its sub-modules (particularly the room sub-module), possess a protective stability which is completely independent of that present in any other surrounding structure, including, as an illustration, a receiving moment-frame structure. A significant consequence of this condition is that a building-insert module constructed, handled, and installed in a building frame, in accordance with the present invention, is internally guarded with dimensional stability and robustness, all enhanced, of course when combined with the native stability of a receiving building frame which naturally possesses it own inherent stability security.

Those skilled in the art will understand quickly how to assess what level of compression to introduce into a room sub-module simply by taking into account the lifting force which will be necessary to pick up the associated module, and by establishing a compression level whereby when that lifting force is applied, and there is no longer any underlying support, such as ground support, for the associated module, a certain amount of vertical compression, which is completely user pre-determinable, will remain in the room sub-module structure so as to prevent that sub-module from entering a state of vertical tension.

On a related point, experience has shown that when such a “tension-inhibiting” level of compression is introduced into a room sub-module, that level of compression affords an adequate measure of room-sub-module stabilization, though it is certainly recognized that a practicer of the present invention might choose, if desired, to introduce an even greater level of compression.

When module fabrication has been completed, and a collection of modules that are intended to be installed in a particular building frame, such as in building frame 20, is readied for delivery, the included modules are appropriately picked up and placed on a transport structure, such as on the trailer in the tractor-trailer vehicle which is shown generally at 102 in FIG. 8. Here, three completed modules 104, 106, 108 are shown on the trailer section of tractor-trailer 102. During module transport, the floor sub-module in each transported module functions conveniently, according to the invention, as a transport pallet for the associated module.

At the appropriate building site, such as the building site shown generally at 110 in FIG. 10, delivered modules, such as just-mentioned modules 104, 106, 108, are placed appropriately in a ground staging zone, such as the staging zone, also referred to herein as a building-frame-insertion staging site, indicated generally at 112 in FIG. 10, from which zone a machine, such as a crane (not shown) having lifting cable structure like that shown generally at 114, may be used to pick up (pick) and move the relevant modules to their assigned places in a building frame shown at 116 in this figure. Frame 116 is like previously mentioned frame 20 shown in FIG. 1. In order to relate what is now being described about module handling at a building site to what appears in FIG. 1, crane cable structure 114 is also shown in FIG. 1, attached to eyelets 70 associated with module 40.

Further describing FIG. 10, such a picking, moving and placing operation is schematically illustrated in this figure for module 104 which is illustrated in three different positions in the figure—(1) on the ground in zone 112, (2) lifted (see arrow 118) by crane cables 114 (which are attached to lifting eyelets 70) to an elevation above the ground but outside frame 116, (3) appropriately laterally shifted (see arrow 120), and then (4) lowered, as indicated by arrow 122, to the appropriate building-floor location intended for it in frame 116.

It will be immediately evident that during this building-site installation procedure as generally illustrated in FIG. 10, the floor sub-module portions of each module, such as the floor sub-module portion of module 104, through the operative connections which exist therewith through the tensioning rods and the lifting eyelets of the mentioned pick structure, act as lifting, and installation-handling, pallets for their respective modules—another useful feature of the present invention.

Returning attention now for a moment to FIG. 2, this figure helps to explain an important feature of the invention which involves the fact that, preferably, the floor sub-module structure in each module which is intended to be installed in building frame 20 is constructed with a corrugated steel expanse and an overlying, poured distribution of concrete which construction substantially matches the same kind of construction employed in each building floor (or building sub-floor) panel 46. When a module is properly installed in place in frame 20, and when thereafter surrounding building floor panels 46 are installed, and concrete for and over the sub-structures in these panels appropriately poured, the building frame floor panels (46) lie substantially coextensive and coplanar with the floor sub-modules in modules present on each common floor level in the building frame.

This condition is precisely what is illustrated (fragmentarily) in FIG. 2, where the illustrated building floor panel 46 lies immediately adjacent the floor sub-module, shown at 124, in module 44, which floor sub-module includes an angle-iron perimeter frame 126, a perimeter-frame-spanning expanse of corrugated steel 128, and a poured body of concrete 130 overlying expanse 128, and disposed within perimeter frame 126. This structural situation produces a substantially coplanar condition for the upper, smooth surfaces of all of the building floor panels and all of the module floor sub-modules that exist on a given floor in frame 20. Such a common plane is illustrated by a dash-dot-line 132 in FIG. 2.

Turning attention finally to FIG. 9 the in the drawings, here there is indicated very generally at 134 a schematic, plan illustration of another one of the important features of the invention—the feature which involves the fact that there is substantial dimensional and configurational independence between the three kinds of defined footprints which have been described and discussed above herein. More specifically, there is a specific independence which exists between the so-called beam-grid footprint in a building frame, such as previously described beam-grid footprint 26, and the defined footprints (not necessarily all the same) of the floor sub-modules in modules which are to be employed in such a frame. Additionally, there is a similar, specific independence between the defined floor sub-module footprints of a module and the defined footprints (also not necessarily all the same) of associated room sub-modules included in the same modules.

The significances and special utility of this hierarchical, footprint independence has been explained earlier herein.

In FIG. 9, a beam-grid footprint is defined by the four solid lines 136, 138, 140, 142 which appear in this figure.

Two differently configured and differently sized, defined module floor sub-module footprints are shown respectively by a solid-line square 144, and by a dash-dot-line rectangle 146. The relative dispositions of these two floor sub-module footprints in FIG. 9 helps to illustrate the beam-grid-footprint/module-footprint substantial independence just mentioned.

Within floor sub-module footprint 144, two, different, defined room sub-module footprints are illustrated, with one being shown by a solid-line rectangle 148, and the other being shown by a dash-double-dot-line rectangle 150. As can be seen, these two room sub-module footprints differ in size and configuration, and are positioned relative to one another in FIG. 9 at different locations over defined floor sub-module footprint 144.

The discussions presented herein regarding the several footprint independences which are featured by the present invention should be understood in the context that such independences may take on a wide variety of relative characteristics depending upon a user's wishes and resulting building design. Accordingly, no specific, relative independence regarding different, defined footprints is dictated by practice of the present invention.

From a methodologic point of view, what is proposed by the present invention, generally expressed, is a building-insert module methodology associated with an open building frame which is defined by columns and beams, with this methodology including the steps of (a) creating a prefabricated module structure including (1) a floor sub-module having an upper surface, and (2) an at least partially completed, three-dimensional room sub-module anchored to and rising upwardly from the upper surface of the floor sub-module, with the created floor sub-module performing as a fabrication pallet for the creating of the room sub-module, (b) transporting the created module to a building-frame-insertion staging site located adjacent such a building frame, using the module's floor sub-module as a transport pallet, and (c) from the mentioned staging site, lifting the thus transported module and inserting it into a selected location within the frame using the module's floor sub-module as a lifting pallet.

In a more specific sense, this methodology further includes, following creation of the mentioned room sub-module, placing that sub-module in a condition of vertical compression, and even more specifically, creating this condition of vertical compression utilizing tensioned pick structure which forms part of the created module, and implementing such vertical compression to a level which will not allow the room sub-module to enter a state of vertical tension during free lifting of the associated module.

Accordingly, a preferred and best-mode embodiment, and manner of practicing, the present invention have been described and illustrated herein, with certain modifications and variations specifically mentioned and/or suggested, and it is intended that the following claims to invention will be construed to include all of that described and suggested subject matter, as well as all modification subject matter which may naturally come to the minds of those generally skilled in the relevant art.