|Número de publicación||US20040003545 A1|
|Tipo de publicación||Solicitud|
|Número de solicitud||US 10/319,135|
|Fecha de publicación||8 Ene 2004|
|Fecha de presentación||13 Dic 2002|
|Fecha de prioridad||2 Jul 2002|
|Número de publicación||10319135, 319135, US 2004/0003545 A1, US 2004/003545 A1, US 20040003545 A1, US 20040003545A1, US 2004003545 A1, US 2004003545A1, US-A1-20040003545, US-A1-2004003545, US2004/0003545A1, US2004/003545A1, US20040003545 A1, US20040003545A1, US2004003545 A1, US2004003545A1|
|Cesionario original||Gillespie Ian S.|
|Exportar cita||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Citas de patentes (5), Citada por (15), Clasificaciones (5)|
|Enlaces externos: USPTO, Cesión de USPTO, Espacenet|
 This application claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/393,405, filed on Jul. 2, 2002. The entire teachings of the above application is incorporated herein by reference.
 The present invention relates to pre-fabricated office space, and more particularly to an enclosed, movable modular office provides local control of both the physical environment and the technological environment of the modular office.
 It is known in the art how to construct office cubicles to provide workspace for employees of various businesses. While the office cubicle is a cost-effective means to provide employee work spaces within an office building due to the portability of the cubicle, workers' productivity can be negatively affected.
 Office cubicles are usually pre-fabricated and have thin walls with a height equal to approximately that of the occupant of the cubicle, and sometimes shorter. Therefore, the occupant of an office cubicle lacks privacy. A cubicle occupant's concentration may be diminished due to noise caused by other office workers and office devices (e.g., printers, copiers, and fax machines). Productivity may also be negatively affected because a worker may leave his or her office space to seek a private space to concentrate better or to have personal conversations, including confidential phone conversations that cannot be avoided at work.
 Furthermore, productivity can be negatively affected because office cubicles lack space for devices and furnishings needed to perform a job, such as printers, additional video monitors, and/or space to accommodate a meeting for a small number of people. Additionally, an office worker may not be able to control the air quality and lighting in his or her area without affecting other office workers because heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, and lighting are centrally controlled.
 The pre-fabricated walls of an office cubicle have attached generic desks, cabinets, and shelves. Often the workers are left with plain walls and plain work surfaces. Workers have limited means of individualizing cubicle space, which may also affect worker productivity. In addition, electrical outlets may not be easily accessible to a cubicle, and therefore, electrical extensions may be required in the cubicle thereby adding clutter to the office space.
 In recent years, cubicle manufacturers began offering additional features for office cubicles. Additional features include glass walls, sliding doors, wood surfaces, and more complex electrical attachments for electronic devices. However, the additional features do not address privacy issues, air quality and lighting control, and space concerns.
 Office cubicles, as currently configured, provide little means to integrate the work environment with numerous technological devices (e.g. voice recognition and video conferencing systems). Integrating the numerous technological devices is the responsibility of the cubicle occupant and/or the Information Technology department and integration is often constrained because a computer monitor must reside on the desk in a pre-determined space as prescribed by the standard cubicle components.
 Office cubicles currently on the market do not accommodate basic privacy and environmental needs of individuals nor the need to have numerous technological devices in an individual's office. An office cubicle that addresses individual privacy concerns, accommodates numerous technological devices (including emerging technologies), enables air quality and lighting to be locally controlled, and/or provides space conducive to meet with co-workers would enhance worker productivity.
 The invention in a preferred embodiment comprises an enclosed modular office that gives an occupant the ability to control the physical environment and the technological environment of the modular office. The physical environment may include lighting and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and the technological environment may include one or more monitors and/or voice recognition systems. The technological environment may also include video-conferencing capabilities and network integration. In a related embodiment, the modular office may be movable.
 In accordance with an embodiment of the invention, the modular office includes wall sections, where each wall section has a bottom end and a top end, and a first and a second side. The first side and the second side of one wall section are attached to the first side or the second side of another wall section. The wall sections along with a floor and a ceiling define an interior space. A door for entry and exit to the interior space can be constructed in one of the wall sections. Further, the modular office comprises a connection to a HVAC system to provide local air quality control for the module office. Additionally, a system supports technological devices, including access to necessary electrical outlets and cabling. Moreover, a function station is disposed in the interior space. The function station is configurable to support housing for one or more display monitors, a desk unit, a shelf unit, a window space, a storage space, a local lighting system, ventilation for a HVAC system, a video conferencing system, a seating area, and/or a refrigeration unit. The function station can be fabricated to attach to the wall sections.
 In accordance with other embodiments of the invention, the modular office has a floor section. The floor section can have heating components. Furthermore, the floor section can be configured with a lighting system.
 The module office also can have a roof section. The roof section can have a light suspending from a top lock configured in the roof section.
 Further embodiments include a control unit for local air quality and one or more technological devices housed in a chair situated in the interior of the modular office, a window in a wall section, and ventilation furnished through a vent cowl configured in a function station. Moreover, the modular office may be self-contained with respect to plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems.
 In accordance with another embodiment of the invention, an office building designed to accommodate the office modules includes a frame structure for supporting the modular offices. The modular offices are fixed in the frame structure. Each of the modular offices includes wall sections, each of which has a bottom end, a top end, a first side, and a second side. The first side and the second side of one of the wall sections are attached to the first side or the second side of at least one other wall sections, thereby defining an interior space along with a floor and a ceiling. Furthermore, each module office includes a connection to a HVAC system providing local air quality control for the modular office, a system to support technological devices including access to electrical outlets and cabling necessary to support the technological devices, and a function station. The function station is configurable for a housing for a display monitor, a desk unit, a shelf unit, a window space, a storage space, a local lighting system, a HVAC system, a video conferencing system, a seating area, and a refrigeration unit. The function station is fabricated to attach to at least one of the wall sections. Ventilation, supported by the HVAC system, can be furnished through a vent cowl configured in the function station. Additionally, a roof section can connect to the wall sections.
 In accordance with a further embodiment of the invention, a method for providing office space includes assembling a first a framework structure having bottom and top ends, wherein the first framework structure comprises structural components. A floor section is provided inside the first framework structure. The floor section has a perimeter disposed beneath the first framework structure at the bottom end. A second framework structure is assembled inside the first framework structure. The second framework structure comprises structural components. At least one function station is assembled inside the second framework structure. The function station includes a wall pocket disposed between a set of rib components of the second framework structure. A localized HVAC system is supported through a configuration of the first and second framework structures. Furthermore, at least one function station inside the second framework structure is configurable for housing a display monitor, a desk unit, a shelf unit, a window space, a storage space, a local lighting system, a localized HVAC system, a video conferencing system, a seating area, and/or a refrigeration unit. The embodiment may also include a roof section having attachments to connect to the second structural framework structure and ventilation supported by the localized HVAC system furnished through a vent cowl configured in the function station.
 In accordance with a further embodiment of the invention, a method for providing an office building includes providing an outer framework structure for supporting offices and inserting the offices in the outer framework structure. Each office includes wall sections, wherein each wall section has a bottom end, a top end, a first side, and a second side. The first side and the second side of one wall section is attached to the first side or the second side of at least one other wall section, thereby defining an interior space along with a floor and a ceiling. Each office also includes a connection to a HVAC system providing local air quality control for the office and a system to support technological devices by providing access to electrical outlets and cabling necessary to support the technological devices. Furthermore, a function station is disposed in the interior space. The function station is configurable for a housing for a display monitor, a desk unit, a shelf unit, a window space, a storage space, a local lighting system, ventilation for a HVAC system, a video conferencing system, a seating area, and/or a refrigeration unit.
 The foregoing and other objects, features and advantages of the invention will be apparent from the following more particular description of preferred embodiments of the invention, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings in which like reference characters refer to the same parts throughout the different views. The drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention.
FIG. 1 is a picture of a perspective cut away view of a modular office in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 2 is a picture of an exploded view of the modular office of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 is an illustration of a heating component for a floor section in accordance with the embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 4 is an illustration of a door for a modular office in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an outer framework of a modular office in accordance with FIG. 3;
FIG. 6 is an exploded view of the outer framework of a modular office in accordance with FIG. 3;
FIG. 7 is a perspective view of an inner framework of a modular office in accordance with FIG. 3;
FIG. 8 is an exploded view of the inner framework of FIG. 9;
FIG. 9 is an illustration of a rib of an inner framework in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 10 is an illustration of an inner frame base in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 11 is an illustration of an apparatus for supporting light fixtures in accordance with a further embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 12 is a picture of function stations with multiple video monitors;
FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a function station in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 14 is a perspective view of another function station in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 15 is an exploded view of a function station in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 16 is a perspective view of the function station of FIG. 15;
FIG. 17 is a perspective view of a a function station in accordance with an embodiment invention;
FIG. 18 is a perspective view of a function station in accordance with an embodiment of the invention;
FIG. 19 is an illustration of an apparatus for supporting heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems in accordance with an embodiment of the invention; and
FIG. 20 is an illustration of a seating area for a modular office in accordance with an embodiment of the invention.
 A description of preferred embodiments of the invention follows.
 The present invention provides a productive office environment embodied in a modular office. Because a modular office is designed for professional use, yet at times is utilized for personal use, the present invention considers both professional and personal needs of an individual. For example, the present invention addresses the continuing convergence of voice, data, and video in the office environment. Additionally, the present invention utilizes office space more efficiently by allowing greater storage in the upper walls, and perhaps the ceiling, of a modular office. In accordance with aspects of the present invention, the modular office provides for easy integration of technology, local control of air quality and lighting systems, environmental improvements, and multiple configuration options while maintaining standardized modular assembly.
 Referring now to FIG. 1, a cut-away view of a modular office 100 according to an embodiment of the present invention is shown. The modular office 100 contains a work area 110 where an individual may use a bank of video screens. Additionally, the modular office shown in FIG. 1 contains a refrigerator 120 and seating 130 that may be used by other office workers who wish to meet with the occupant of the modular office 100.
FIG. 2 shows an exploded view of a frame 200 for a modular office 100. The frame 200 surrounds the modular office on all sides, including the top of the module. The sides of the frame extend above the height of an office worker and attach to the top of the frame thereby completely enclosing an office space to maximize the amount of privacy for the occupant of the modular office.
 More particularly, FIG. 1 shows a perspective cut-away view of the modular office 100 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention. The embodiment of FIG. 1 comprises a pre-fabricated, moveable, fully enclosed modular office wherein the occupant has the ability to control both the physical environment and the technological environment of the modular office 100. By way of a non-limiting example, the physical environment may include lighting and HVAC systems (shown later in more detail) and the technological environment may include one or more monitors 305 and/or voice recognition systems (not shown). The technological environment may also include video conferencing capabilities and network integration. The occupant of the modular office 100 may control the physical and technological environments through a control panel in communication with wired or wireless devices and connections (such as satellites). The control panel may be housed in a chair 306 situated in the interior of the modular office 100.
 The portability of the movable module office 100 is facilitated by the construction of the movable office into components. Additionally, the office module 100 may be fully constructed and transported by a wheeled platform.
 The modular office 100 shown in FIG. 1 includes a planar floor section 303. In addition to the planar floor section 303, the modular office 100 may include one or more wall sections 301 that are connected to the floor section 303 to define an interior space that is substantially closed within the vertical sides and the underside of the modular office space.
 Referring again now to FIG. 2, the floor section 303 may be configured as an array of underlit glass or plexiglass tiles 308. Alternatively, the floor section may be a single, continuous section. One or more heating components 310 may be sandwiched between two layers 309 a and 309 b of the floor section 303.
FIG. 3 illustrates a heating component 310 of the floor section 303. The heating component 310 may comprise a panel that includes embedded electrical heating elements 330. The heating component 310 shown in FIG. 5 may be the size of a tile 308 or the size of the entire floor section 303. In addition to or rather than the embedded electrical heating elements, the floor section 303 may be configured with a lighting system.
 Referring back to FIG. 2, the modular office has a ceiling section 307 such that the interior space is substantially closed within the vertical sides, the underside, and the top of the modular office space. FIG. 2 also illustrates that a window 302 may be provided in one or more wall sections 301. In addition to the window 302, at least one of the wall sections 301 may include a door 304 through which a person may enter and exit the interior space.
FIG. 4 shows the door 304 in more detail. In one embodiment, the door includes a handle 601 and a window 602. The door 304 may slide in a lateral direction along a wall section 301 to open and shut when the handle 601 is moved to the right or left. Alternatively, the door 304 may be configured to open into or out of the interior space.
 Referring now to FIGS. 5 and 6, perspective and exploded views, respectively, of an outer framework of a modular office in accordance with FIG. 1 are shown. The outer framework, shown generally at 700, includes a plurality of main structural components 701. In this embodiment, approximately twelve sets of main structural components 701 are used that, when assembled, form a plurality of main structural units 701 that will be connected. The main structural units 701 are likewise connected, in this embodiment, to approximately nine sets of secondary structural components 702 that serve to reinforce and strengthen the framework. The sets of the main and secondary structural components 701 and 702 may have two or more members thereby enabling the size of the outer framework to be adjustable. The main and secondary structural components 701 and 702 may be formed from bent sheet metal or other metal (e.g., steel or light-gauge weight metals), plastics, or composite materials. Further, in accordance with this embodiment, approximately eight corner joints 703, which may be formed from light or heavy gauge metal, connect the main structural units together to form a complete assembly as shown in FIG. 5.
 Referring now to FIGS. 7 and 8, a perspective and an exploded view, respectively, of an inner framework 900 of a modular office are shown. The inner framework 900 comprises a plurality of ribs 1005, inner frame base units 1001, and upper rail base units 1002, a top lock 1003, and a grate 1004. Each of the ribs 1005 includes a top 1006, an attachment support 1007 and rib poles 1008. In accordance with this embodiment, the inner framework includes about thirteen ribs 1005 and twenty-six rib poles 1008 that are assembled on about five inner frame base units 1001, which may be straight or curved base units. FIG. 8 shows two rib poles 1008 per rib, although one or more rib poles 1008 may be used per rib, that affix to the top 1006 of each rib 1005 at a first end and to an inner frame base unit 1001 at a second end to form a vertical construction. A rib pole 1008 may be inserted into an attachment support 1007 to provide support for elements of a function station (to be defined later), work station, or other interior fixtures, (which may include a seating area 2201, such as that shown in FIG. 20).
 The upper rail base units 1002 may be used to provide additional support for the framework 900 and for the rib tops 1006. The rib tops 1006 connect to a top lock 1003 at a rib end 1009. Furthermore, a grate 1004 may be inserted into the top lock 1003.
 Referring now to FIG. 9, the ribs tops 1006, rib poles 1008, and attachment supports 1007 maybe constructed as a single rib element 1100. Whether constructed using separate components or as a single rib element 1100, the ribs 1005 may be fabricated from composite materials or metal, including by way of non-limiting example, aluminum, light gauge metal, or steel.
 Referring now to FIG. 10, an inner frame base 1200 is shown. The inner frame base 1200 may be formed by connecting the inner frame base units 1001 to one another. Alternatively, the inner frame base 1200 may be manufactured as a single unit. The inner frame base 1200 may abut a pre-existing floor, or may abut or attach to the floor section 303. By way of non-limiting example, the inner frame base units 1001 or the inner frame base 1200 manufactured as a single unit may be formed using an injection molded plastic.
 Referring now to FIG. 11, an apparatus for supporting light fixtures is shown. Light fixtures 1301 and 1302 may be hung from the top lock 1003. The light fixtures 1301 and 1302 may also be hung from the grate 1004. Additionally, a localized HVAC system may be configured such that warm and cool air is supplied, and ventilation is provided through the grate 1004. Alternative configurations of HVAC systems in a modular office will later be discussed.
 The interior space of the modular office may include one more function stations. A function station is a fabricated component of a modular office that can house or accommodate technological devices, furnishings, and/or materials necessary for the occupant of the modular office to perform his or her required work. In addition, a function station may serve to make an office environment more comfortable (e.g., by housing a refrigeration unit). A function station may be placed between any set of ribs 1005 (e.g., a single rib or a pair of ribs) of the inner framework 900 and may be connected to a wall section.
 Referring now to FIG. 12, function stations with multiple video monitors 1402 are shown. Multiple monitors 1402 enable an office worker to work with more than one computer application at a time and/or view different windows generated by the same application, without having one window obscured by another window. One of the video monitors may also be used for video conferencing. As shown in FIG. 14, function stations may house one or more monitors and provide desk space 1404. Moreover, function stations may house one or more computer systems, one or more telecommunication systems, one or more video conferencing systems, one or more voice recognition systems and the like.
 Referring now to FIG. 13, a function station 1500 is shown. The function station 1500 provides for a window space 1502, seating space 1504, and file space 1503 attached to the seating space 1504. The function station 1500 is also designed to accommodate ventilation and lighting systems via an intake and outtake/lighting unit 1505.
 Referring now to FIG. 14, a function station 1600 is shown. Function station 1600 contains a storage unit 1602, a desk space 1603, and a refrigeration unit 1604. Additionally, function station 1600 is designed to accommodate heating, cooling, ventilation, and lighting systems via an intake and outtake/lighting unit 1605.
FIG. 15 and FIG. 16 show a completed assembly of a function station 1700 and an exploded view of the function station 1700, respectively. In accordance with FIGS. 17 and 18, a function station may include a wall pocket 1701 into which may be inserted a shelf 1702. Above the wall pocket is a lower vent cowl 1703 with a lower vent insert 1704 that together provide ventilation to the interior space via ventilator diffusers. A lower light 1705 and a lower light cover 1706 may be connected to both the lower vent cowl 1703 and a middle light 1707. Attached to the middle light 1707 is a middle light cover 1708. Above the middle light 1707, a top vent cowl 1709 into which a top vent insert 1710 is placed provides additional ventilation.
 In accordance with FIG. 17, a function station 1900 is used to provide window space. Function station 1900 has a lower window box 1901 and upper window box 1902. A function station may also provide for only one window by containing only one window box.
 Referring to FIG. 18, a function station 2000 is shown. Function station 2000 may be used to provide a shelf 2001. The shelf 2001 may house a computer for use with a flat panel monitor 2002.
 As shown is FIGS. 13-18, function stations may serve many purposes. The components used to assemble a function station may be pre-assembled at a factory or may be mixed and matched by in-house facilities personnel to fulfill the needs of any individual office worker.
 A modular office in accordance with the present invention may be self-contained with respect to HVAC, communication, plumbing, and electrical systems. Self-containment is achieved by equipping the modular office with HVAC, communication, plumbing, and electrical mechanisms, which may function via simple connections to systems associated with a building or to a dedicated generator.
 Referring now to FIG. 19 an apparatus 2100 for supporting HVAC systems in accordance with an embodiment of the invention is shown. Conduits 2101 connect to ventilation diffusers that provide ventilation to the inner space of the modular office (e.g., through lower vent cowl 1703 and top vent cowl 1709).
 The electrical system may be configured to support all of the electrical equipment required of the modular office including the elements used for multi-media collaboration, such as computer systems, audio-video devices, video conferencing, telecommunication, and voice recognition systems, as well as heating, refrigeration, and air conditioning devices. Electrical system components, such as cabling, may be disposed within the walls of the modular office.
 The HVAC and electrical systems may be connected to one or more compatible systems in a main building or framework, or the HVAC and electrical systems may be dedicated systems that are supported by an individual generator for each modular office.
 The modular offices described herein may be used in the construction of an entire office building or to renovate an existing office building. In a new building, only the steel frame structure that is suitably proportioned to support a plurality of modular offices need be provided. The steel frame structure may include gantries, which may be comprised of mesh glass. HVAC and power systems may be installed underneath the gantry. The modular offices may then be inserted into the frame without the necessity of conventional building components, such as floors, walls, ceilings and conventional HVAC systems.
 Various changes and modifications to the preferred embodiments described herein will be apparent to those skilled in the art. For example, such a modular office may easily be configured into a modular room of any type, including a modular conference room, home office, hotel room, ship cabin, kitchen, or the like. Moreover, a modular office may be inserted into a building's framework that was specifically designed for the modular office or may be placed in a pre-constructed office space, garage, hospital, or shopping center. Furthermore, the modular office may stand alone without any framework or pre-constructed surroundings and thus be used as a field office or the like.
 While this invention has been particularly shown and described with references to preferred embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those skilled in the art that various changes in form and details may be made therein without departing from the scope of the invention encompassed by the appended claims.
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|Clasificación de EE.UU.||52/36.1, 52/79.1|