US3683100A - Modular wall and ceiling system - Google Patents

Modular wall and ceiling system Download PDF

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US3683100A
US3683100A US3683100DA US3683100A US 3683100 A US3683100 A US 3683100A US 3683100D A US3683100D A US 3683100DA US 3683100 A US3683100 A US 3683100A
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wall
panel
ceiling
members
means
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John V Deal
Clive Nall
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JOHN V DEAL
CLIVE NALL
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JOHN V DEAL
CLIVE NALL
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    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B3/00Line transmission systems
    • H04B3/54Systems for transmission via power distribution lines
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H02GENERATION; CONVERSION OR DISTRIBUTION OF ELECTRIC POWER
    • H02GINSTALLATION OF ELECTRIC CABLES OR LINES, OR OF COMBINED OPTICAL AND ELECTRIC CABLES OR LINES
    • H02G3/00Installations of electric cables or lines in or on buildings, equivalent structures or vehicles
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B2203/00Indexing scheme relating to line transmission systems
    • H04B2203/54Aspects of powerline communications not already covered by H04B3/54 and its subgroups
    • H04B2203/5404Methods of transmitting or receiving signals via power distribution lines
    • H04B2203/5416Methods of transmitting or receiving signals via power distribution lines by adding signals to the wave form of the power source
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B2203/00Indexing scheme relating to line transmission systems
    • H04B2203/54Aspects of powerline communications not already covered by H04B3/54 and its subgroups
    • H04B2203/5429Applications for powerline communications
    • H04B2203/5441Wireless systems or telephone
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B2203/00Indexing scheme relating to line transmission systems
    • H04B2203/54Aspects of powerline communications not already covered by H04B3/54 and its subgroups
    • H04B2203/5429Applications for powerline communications
    • H04B2203/5445Local network
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B2203/00Indexing scheme relating to line transmission systems
    • H04B2203/54Aspects of powerline communications not already covered by H04B3/54 and its subgroups
    • H04B2203/5429Applications for powerline communications
    • H04B2203/545Audio/video application, e.g. interphone
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B2203/00Indexing scheme relating to line transmission systems
    • H04B2203/54Aspects of powerline communications not already covered by H04B3/54 and its subgroups
    • H04B2203/5462Systems for power line communications
    • H04B2203/5483Systems for power line communications using coupling circuits
    • HELECTRICITY
    • H04ELECTRIC COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
    • H04BTRANSMISSION
    • H04B2203/00Indexing scheme relating to line transmission systems
    • H04B2203/54Aspects of powerline communications not already covered by H04B3/54 and its subgroups
    • H04B2203/5462Systems for power line communications
    • H04B2203/5491Systems for power line communications using filtering and bypassing

Abstract

A suspended ceiling grid frame provides an upper support for prefabricated modular wall sections or panels that can be connected to the grid frame in different arrangements to provide the desired floor plan. An interfacing means on the top edges of the wall sections or panels secures them in place to the ceiling grid frame and allows the wall panels to be installed or removed rapidly with a minimum of labor. Electrical power lines and audio or video signal communication cables located above the ceiling grid may be connected to the interfacing means so that power or signal energy can be supplied to particular wall sections or panels capable of transmitting both signal and power energy from their interfacing means to either predesignated or randomly located outlets on the sides of the wall sections.

Description

United States Patent Deal et al.

[54] MODULAR WALL AND CEILING SYSTEM [72] Inventors: John V. Deal, 1237 Manet Dr., Sunnyvale, Calif. 23187; Clive Nall, 258 Curlew Court, Foster City, Calif.

[15] 3,683,100 51 Aug. 8, 1972 Primary Examiner-Lewis H. Myers Assistant Examiner-D. A. Tone Attorney-Owen, Wickersham & Erickson 5 7] ABSTRACT A suspended ceiling grid frame provides an upper support for prefabricated modular wall sections or panels that can be connected to the grid frame in different arrangements to provide the desired floor plan. An interfacing means on the top edges of the wall sections or panels secures them in place to the ceiling grid frame and allows the wall panels to be installed or removed rapidly with a minimum of labor. Electrical power lines and audio or video signal communication cables located above the ceiling grid may be connected to the interfacing means so that power or signal energy can be supplied to particular wall sections or panels capable of transmitting both signal and power energy from their interfacing means to either predesignated or randomly located outlets on the sides of the wall sections.

31 Claims, 13 Drawing Figures PATENTEDMIB 8 I912 3.683.100

SHEET 1 OF 5 INVENTORS JOHN M. DEAL CLIVE NALL FIG 2 ms PATENTEI'JIIIII 8 I912 3;s83;10D

SHEET 2 BF 5 POWER I 32 XFMR 34 I 23o VOLTS T.v. MODULATORS 24 VOLTS SIGNAL A COM- 24 v. 36 DATA MODULATORS BINER INPUT 44 7 3e- F.M. MODULATORS 42 EIEEI' A a x'fi OTHER TE -45 coM g COUPLER INTER- MODULATORS (SIGNAL) FACE SIGNAL 8. 24 VOLTS 30 T0 INDIVIDUAL WALL PANELS 24 VOLTS FOR: 24 v 52 E?G IITI% fi% D S'GNAL/ POWER JUMPERS AIR CDNDITIDNINGHL 54 L E CONTROLS f ll 7 TI ES II'wI-I L 1 2 RANDOM OUTLET FEATURES INVENTORS JOHN v. DEAL CLIVE NALL F!G 3 I PATENTEDAUB. 8 m2 3.683.100

v INVENTORS JOHN V. DEAL CLIVE NALL {W l Ys Pmmmwc 1912 3,683,100

SHEET 5 OF 5 INVENTORS JOHN V. DEAL CLIVE NALL This invention relates to movable building interior systems comprised of suspended ceilings and demountable wall structures, and more particularly it relates to an improved system comprised of an integrated ceiling grid frame and wall panels connected thereto including means capable of distributing electrical power and various forms of data and communication signals.

Modern buildings, such as schools, various business offices and hospitals have widely varying requirements for electrical power and communication facilities. Conventional interior structures for such buildings which are necessary to provide the various walls, partitions or dividers for establishing the predetermined floor plan were expensive and time consuming to install. Also, in such buildings there was often a need to change the floor plan arrangement as well as the type and location of power and communication facilities at various locations in order to accommodate different building uses or new equipment. Since the requirements for such facilities in many fields constantly vary, it is not practical or economical to erect permanent building interiors. Heretofore, various forms of temporary or movable interior wall systems devised for sub-dividing space in buildings were generally unsatisfactory because they failed to provide an adequate wall/ceiling interface designed for rapid relocation. Furthermore, previous demountable wall and ceiling designs did not solve the problem of distributing electrical power and audiovideo signals to accommodate the different and ever increasing numbers of apparatus and equipment. The present invention solves this problem.

A general object of the present invention is to provide an improved, highly versatile modular system of interchangeable, demountable wall panels that are connectable to and detachable from a ceiling grid system specifically designed to accommodate said panels.

Another object of the present invention is to provide improved wall panels for use with a ceiling grid system which can be made from readily available materials and are therefore particularly well adapted for ease and economy of manufacture.

Another object of the present invention is to provide improved wall panels in combination with a ceiling grid and coaxial jumper cable system which are capable of transmitting electrical power and also signal energy for accommodating electrical apparatus or communication facilities, such as various types of video or audio systems, intercom, telephone, patient monitoring systems, and data transmission systems.

Still another object of the present invention is to provide wall panels for use with a ceiling grid system which can transmit or distribute electrical power and on which an outlet can be installed at any preselected, random location thereon.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a relocatable, demountable wall panel which can be easily installed or removed without the need of special tools or highly skilled labor and which will provide a structurally satisfactory and eye pleasing joint with the ceiling grid despite small dimensional variances that may occur.

Yet another object of the present invention is to provide an improved wall panel for attachment to a ceiling grid system which has sufficient strength and rigidity to furnish the structural support afforded by conventional wall structures and which also provides satisfactory acoustical characteristics between rooms formed by the wall panels.

The aforesaid and other objects of the present invention are accomplished by a system which broadly comprises a ceiling frame that forms a gridlike pattern of structural members that are anchored to and suspend from the main structural ceiling of a building. This suspended ceiling gn'd creates a space between it and the building ceiling which can accommodate any type of service line, cable or conduit for electricity, power or signal energy, gas, water or any other form of energy or material that may be used in a room below the ceiling grid. A plurality of prefabricated wall panels have means for interfacing with the ceiling grid so that they can be connected to any grid member and thus be arranged in any pattern to form a desired floor plan. These wall panels may also connect with any of the cables or conduits carrying the energy or material desired and within them are means for receiving and distributing this energy or material to receptacles installed on its outer surfaces from which it may be extracted for use in the room. Because of the internal structure of the panels the receptacles may be installed at randomly selected locations either before or after the wall panels are installed on the ceiling grid.

Other objects, advantages and features of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a view in perspective showing a building interior with a suspended ceiling and wall system embodying the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a view in perspective of the ceiling and wall system of FIG. 1 taken from above the ceiling grid level;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of an electric distribution system for ceiling and wall panel installation according to the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a fragmentary view in perspective and in section showing portions of a ceiling grid and wall panel structure according to the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a fragmentary view in perspective showing a vertical edge portion of a wall panel member according to our invention;

FIG. 6 is a fragmentary plan view in section showing a joint between two of the wall panels like the one shown in FIG. 5;

FIG. 7 is a view in elevation and in section with portions broken away showing the internal structure of a wall panel connected to a ceiling member in accordance with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 8 is an enlarged fragmentary view in elevation and in section showing the upper end portion of a receptacle-connector for the wall panel of FIG. 7;

FIG. 9 is an enlarged fragmentary view in perspective and in section showing the internal tank portion of the wall panel of FIG. 7;

FIG. 10 is a view in perspective showing schematically how a wall panel is installed to a ceiling grid frame in accordance with our invention;

FIG. 11 is a view in perspective showing how a series of our wall panels can be connected to a ceiling grid frame to form a series of rooms;

FIG., 12 is a view in perspective showing another form of ceiling grid frame with attached wall panels according to our invention; and

FIG. 13 is an enlarged view in perspective of a section of grid frame and an attached wall panel from the installation of FIG. 12.

With reference to the drawing, FIG. 1 shows a building interior provided with a ceiling and wall system embodying the principles of the present invention, and comprised of wall panels, sections or modules 20, which are readily movable to different locations either parallel or transverse to each other to form a desired.

floor plan. Each of these panels is supported on the building floor 22 and attached at its upper end to a portion of a ceiling grid or framework 24 by spaced apart connectors 26. These connectors enable the panels to be readily placed in position or removed to different locations on the ceiling grid to form the desired floor plan arrangement of rooms, halls, alcoves and the like.

As shown in FIG. 2, the connectors 26 on certain wall panels 20a may also serve as receptacles for electrical junction units 28 attached to an electrical transmission cable 30 or to jumper cables 30a. The ceiling grid 24 which is suspended from and anchored to the structural ceiling of the building provides an upper space above it to accommodate the electrical cables which furnish both power and communication signals to the wall panels 20a or transmit it from panel to panel as will be described below. Depending on the particular arrangement desired and the facilities required for the building, only a limited number of the wall panels 20a are used and supplied with power and signal energy while considerably more panels 20 may provide merely the typical wall function of dividing or separating one area from another.

As will be seen, however, the wall panels 20a capable of transmitting both power and signal energy are an important feature of our invention and make possible a high degree of flexibility and versatility in the use of building space. For example, FIG. 3 is a block diagram representing a typical audio-video and/or data transmission system that may utilize our ceiling grid and wall panel system by the distribution of electrical power and signals to the receptacle-connectors 26 of wall panels 20a arranged in some preselected but changeable pattern. In this example, ac. power (e.g. 230 volts) from a conventional outside source is supplied to a power transformer 32 which steps it down to some lower level such as 24 volts. Signal energy may be derived from video modulators 34 such as videotape recorders, video disc recorders or any video source equipment, data or computer modulators 36, audio sources such as F.M. modulators 38, tape recorders, live microphones or other communications modulators 40. This signal ener gy is supplied through a signal combiner 42 and a directional filter and coupler 44 to a signal-power interface component 46.

As shown in FIG. 2, this interface component may be a single box that includes the power transfonner which can be mounted in any convenient location above the ceiling grid. From the interface box 46, a single transmission cable 30 that carries both electrical power and signals extends to the desired number of wall panels 20a adapted to receive power and signal energy. Additional jumper cables 30a may serve to interconnect any pair of panels, as shown in FIG. 2. An additional power tap 50 from the power interface box 46 may be provided to a distribution bus 52 for use as a low voltage source through wires 54 to conventional ceiling lights 56 supported by the ceiling grid or to air conditioning controls and the like.

Now, with the general concept of the present system in mind, its various structural components will be described in greater detail. For example, the ceiling grid 24 as shown in one form in greater detail in FIG. 4, is made up from channel shaped frame members 58 that are parallel and spaced apart and interconnected by similar cross members 58a. The spacing of these members is preferably uniform at some selected distance (e.g. 4 or 5 feet) so that the ceiling grid forms a large plurality of uniform squares or rectangles. Each of these frame members, which are preferably light metal or plastic extrusions, has spaced apart and parallel vertical sides 60 connected by a web 62 near their lower edges. Horizontal flanges 64 extending outwardly from each lower edge are adapted to support ceiling panels 66 or light fixtures 56 between the frame members 58 and 58a, as previously mentioned. Spaced at intervals along the upright sides of the ceiling members 58 are pairs of holes, each one of which supports a transverse pin 72. This pin extends through the lower end of a strap 74 whose upper end is anchored in some suitable manner to the structural building ceiling above it. The scraps may be adjustable in length so that the ceiling grid can be suspended at a uniform height even if the building ceiling is irregular. Along the web portion of the ceiling grid members are spaced apart elongated openings 76 of a uniform width which receive the boss-like connector-receptacles 26 on the wall panels 20 that may bring both power and signal energy into the wall panels and also serve to secure them to the ceiling grid. The cross members 58 and 58a may be connected together by welding or by suitable fasteners, and along each wall a ceiling grid member is attached to a spacer member 78 such as a wood strip that is fixed to the building wall by suitable fasteners.

The wall panels 20 according to our invention comprise generally a pair of parallel, outer skin panels 78 of uniform thickness. These may be made of any suitable non-conductible sheet material such as plywood, a plastic or cellulose composition, gypsum or a combination of such materials. These outer skin panels are spaced apart by and attached to upper and lower frame members 80 and to vertical frame members 82 along the sides. All of these frame members are formed from some rigid, non-conductive material such as wood or plastic.

Attached to the top of each panel is an extruded metal member 84 having a central web portion 86 and side flanges 88 that extend downwardly over and fit tightly against the skin panels. Each connector-receptacle 26 has a base plate 90 that is anchored by screws 92 or other suitable means to an upper frame member 82 An externally threaded barrel portion of the connector extends upwardly from its base plate 90 through an opening in the web 86 of the metal member 84. A large nut 94 is threaded to the connector barrel and bears against the web 86 to hold the metal member on the panel. Between the metal member of each panel and a ceiling grid member is provided a yieldable strip member 96, which is made from some flexible, resilient material such as foamed plastic. This strip member affords an adjustable sealing joint between the members 58 and 84 that will enable the panel to fit properly to the ceiling grid member despite small dimensional irregularities. When each panel is in place, the strip member 96 is compressed and tends to fill the space formed by the webs of the members 58 and 84, thereby providing a light-proof, sound-proof seal between the panel and its grid members. As the panels are installed their connectors 26 extend through the elongated openings 76 in the ceiling members 58 or 58a and these openings are purposely made fairly wide and long so that all panels can be easily installed or removed and can be adjusted laterally to some degree.

In many installations it may be desirable to install the panels 20 in an end-to-end arrangement to create a relatively long room or wall. In such cases adjoining panels may abut together and each is provided with an end edge that will retain a vertical sealing strip 98 between the panels, as shown in FIGS. 5 and 6. In the construction shown, each panel edge is formed from a pair of identical metal edge members 100 with inwardly bent central portions 102 that overlap at the center line of the panel edge, with each having an outer flange 104 that fits around the corner of the panel skin member 78. Another flange 106 extends outwardly from the central portion 102 and the outer flange 104 of each edge member 100. Thus, the two overlapped edge members form a longitudinal recess between the flanges 106 for the vertical sealing strip 98. The flanges 106 may have vertically spaced apart slots 108 in them, if desired, so that they can support hangers 110 for shelving and the like as shown in FIG. 5.

As just described, the panel 20 provides a structural or divider function for forming rooms or spaces of the desired floor plan. We shall now describe in greater detail the modified wall panel 20a which, in addition to its normal wall function, also provides for the distribution and access of electrical power and signal energy. The general structural elements of this power and signal panel 20a may be the same as for the panel 20, that is, it has outer skins or panels 78 attached to top, bottom and side frame members 80 and 82. However, within the space between the outer skins is a tank-like enclosure 112 made of conductive material such as a thin sheet metal or metal foil which provides an electrical ground as well as a shield for RF. energy released within the enclosure. Opposite sides 114 of conductive material forming this enclosure lie flush against the inner surfaces of the outer panel skins 78, and they connect along their edges to top and bottom members 116 and 118 and to side portions that lie flush against the side frame members. The size of this tank 112 may vary as desired depending on how the panel is to be used and how much area will be required for signal and power outlets.- For example, in some panels 20a, the entire lower half may be occupied by a tank enclosure 112, whereas in others a smaller or larger tank within the panel may be used. Spaced midway between and parallel to the opposite conductive sides within each tank is a center conductor plate 120 which is made of a thin sheet of metal or other conductive material. The lower edge of this plate is spaced above the bottom of the tank and is surrounded on opposite sides by and thus encased within a dielectric material 122 which is preferably a foamed plastic such as polyurethane.

At its upper end the center plate is connected to a coaxial cable 124 that extends vertically upwardly through the panel and through a central bore 126 on the connector-receptacle 26. Surrounding the section of cable within the panel is a jacket 128 of hard plastic (FIG. 9). Also, a body of dielectric material 130 such as foamed plastic, paper or glass fiber material fills the space around the cable between the panel skins. The coaxial cable may be of the conventional type with an outer braided conductive cover 132 and a central copper conductor 134 separated by a plastic insulator 136. As best shown in FIG. 9, the central conductor is connected to the side of the center plate by some convenient means such as a temiinal button brazed thereto, and the braided cover 132 is flared outwardly and attached as be welding it to the inside surface of the tank wall, thereby providing a ground connection.

At its upper end the cable section 124 extends through the bore of the receptacle barrel portion and is attached to one part of a coaxial connector 138 fixed to its upper tapered end portion 140. The mating part 146a of the connector is fixed to a junction unit 28 in the main transmission cable 30 or jumper cable 30a. Each junction unit, as shown schematically in FIG. 7, contains a main line conductor 144 extending between two male connector members 146 mounted at opposite ends of the unit. Extending from a junction in the conductor 144 is another branch conductor 148 which is series connected and transmits signal energy through a coupling capacitor 150 to another male connector member 146a mounted on a bottom side of the junction unit. The amount of coupling may be adjusted by changing the value of the capacitor 150. A choke coil 152 which is also connected between the junction of lines 144 and 148 and the male connector member 146a is used to couple low frequency (60 cycle) 24 volt electrical power to the center conductor plate 120. When the junction unit is installed, its end connectors are connected to an inlet end 154 of one jumper cable 300 and an outlet end 156 of another jumper cable, both of which are provided with mating connector members. Similarly, the bottom junction unit connector 146a is attached to the connector 138 on the tip of the receptacle 28. With this arrangement, the electrical power in the inlet jumper cable is supplied through the central core conductor 134 direct to the conductor plate 120 within the panel tank 112. Signal energy is simultaneously supplied through the coaxial cable central core and through the coupling capacitor to the central conductor plate. The latter thus radiates the RF signal energy which is confined within the shielding tank 112. The choke coil 152 functions to prevent any interference between the power and signal energy paths.

FIG. 8 shows in greater detail one form of a coaxial connector 158 for use with the present system including the female connector member 138 which is fixed to the upper end of the connector receptacle 26 and also to the ends of the jumper cables and the male connector members 146 which are fixed to the junction unit.

The upper end of the coaxial cable 124 extends into a metal connector body 138 that is attached at its lower end, as by welding or soldering, to the upper end of the receptacle 26. The braided cover portion 132 of the cable end is soldered to the walls of this connector body. At the upper end of the connector body 138 is an enlarged cylindrical portion 160 filled with a hard insulation material 162 having a series of locator protuberances 164 on its upper service. Within the insulation 162, the center cable conductor 134 is soldered to a tubular connector pin 166 that extends above it. The male connector body 146 is tubular with a base flange 168 that enables it to be secured to the junction unit by some type of fasteners. Within the body is tubular pin socket 170 that is anchored within a surrounding body 172 of insulator material such as a hard plastic which has recesses 174 to receive the protuberances 164 on the connector member 164. The wire 148 within the junction unit is secured to the inner end portion of the pin socket 170. While the connector members 138 and 146 exemplify one preferred embodiment of coaxial connector, it should be understood that other connectors could be used within the scope of the present inventron.

An important feature of the present invention is that the power and signal energy supplied to the wall panels can be extracted from them at any randomly, selected location included within the area of the central core or plate 120 within the internal tank or enclosure 112. As previously described, this central core or conductor surrounded on opposite sides by the dielectric material 122 may extend practically the entire height of the panel so that power and signal outlets may be installed almost anywhere, or for other installations it may cover only a lower portion of the panel.

In order to extract both signal and power from this wall section, it is necessary to install both a receptacle and an associated connecting device which will meet with the conducting surfaces of the inner core section of the wall panel. This can readily be accomplished in the following manner, as shown in FIG. 7. Once the location for extraction of power has been made, a clearance hole 173 is drilled through the surface skin panel 78, through the metal external shielding wall 114 of the tank enclosure 112 and into the center conductor plate 120 for the power extraction. A screw-type conductor 117 forming one terminal 175 of a power socket 176 is now placed through this hole and secured to the central core member 120 as by an expandable self-locking and nut 178 of the well known type. The other terminal 175a of this power socket is connected to one of a pair of connecting screws 180 which is itself secured to the ground conductor layer or wall 114 of the tank 112 on the inside of the skin panel.

To install a receptacle 182 for signal only extraction, it will be necessary to drill a hole 184 through the surface panel 78, the shield conductor or tank wall 114 and into the dielectric material 122 which fills the void between the center conductor plate 120 and the outside shield conductor layer 114. Now, secured to this surface panel is a signal connector such as a U.I-I.F. type coaxial connector having a monopole antenna probe 186 mounted directly to its center pin: The end of this monopole antenna is spaced from the central plate 120 and intercepts the signal energy which radiates from it through the adjacent dielectric portion 122.

The thickness of the central core 120 of our panels a can be designed to form a universal element which can be used in a number of different walls manufactured for different installations. Also, various types of signal connectors which can be inserted into the wall for extracting signal energy may be used within the scope of the present invention, and the example shown is not intended to be limiting in any sense.

An advantage of having the continuous tank-like metal shield 1 12 which forms the inner core of the wall 20a is that, regardless of the direction which the power or signal extraction receptacle enters the wall, it will always come in contact with the exterior or grounded side of the power and signal system first. Thus, the exterior mounting hardware for a receptacle is electrically grounded to those parts which will meet with the external or outside conductor of the wall core, thereby causing all exterior parts and hardware to be at ground potential.

From the foregoing it is seen that once the wall panels 20a are installed, any number of power or signal receptacles 176 or 182 can be quickly installed at the desired randomly selected locations, and these receptacles can be connected to any apparatus in the room formed by the wall panel.

In a normal installation procedure for our power and signal distribution system, a building bay is first supplied with the suspended ceiling grid by suspending an'd interconnecting the frame members 58 and 58a. The combined power and signal cable 30 is then brought from the junction units 28 installed above the ceiling grid level, and additional jumper cables 30a are supplied where needed. Now, the wall panels 20 and 20a are installed where called for by merely inserting their tapered receptacles 26 up through the elongated holes or slots 76 in the ceiling frame members. As shown in FIG. 10, the installation of each panel can be accomplished easily by manual manipulation of panel. As each panel is installed, it is first inclined so that its receptacle connectors 26 can be inserted into appropriate slots 76 within the ceiling grid members. The panel is then moved upwardly until it is in the vertical position and at this point it compresses somewhat the yieldable strip 96 between the ceiling grid member 58 and the top edge member 84 of the panel. Along their bottom edges the wall panels are preferably supported by a channel fitting 188 which can be fixed to the floor or floor covering suitable fasteners. If attached directly to the hard floor surface, simple screws may be used (FIG. 7) or if the channel means is installed on a carpet other retaining means may be used such as a plurality of short pins on the bottom surface of the channel (not shown). Now, the main combined power and signal and other jumper cables are connected to the wall panel receptacles which extend above the ceiling grid. Thereafter, the ceiling light fixtures 56 can be installed and connected to their own separate power leads and additional ceiling panels 190 of the conventional type can be placed in position. After the panels 20a have been installed the wall receptacles 176 and 182 for power and signal connections can be installed as previously described.

FIG. 11 illustrates how a series of panels 20 and 20a can be arranged in a building space to provide rooms of different sizes. In each of these rooms one or more power and signal panels 20a can be employed to furnish a wide range of electrical power and signal facilities. The necessity for conventional wall or floor wiring has been completely eliminated. Although not shown in detail, various modifications of panels can be made within the scope of the invention to provide panels b with doors, vent openings, windows or other conventional structural features.

In-FIGS. 1, 2 and 11, a ceiling grid 24 comprised of parallel members 58 connected to perpendicular members 58a is shown, but our invention may also be applied to other ceiling grid systems having different patterns, as shown in FIG. 12. Here, a plurality of ceiling grid members 580 converge inwardly from a building outer wall 192 that may be circular or octagonal in planforrn. A series of panels 20 or 200 are connected to these grid members to provide rather large rooms. Such a building design with larger open spaces may be particularly useful for schools or other institutions. With such an installation, the connection of each panel to the ceiling grid member may be accomplished in the same manner as previously described. However, as shown in FIG. 13, it may be desirable for the grid members to support angle members 194 between them so that conventional ceiling tiles 196 and light fixtures can be installed.

From the foregoing it should be apparent that the present invention provides a unique approach to internal building design and construction. Not only does it substantially decrease both the cost of materials in labor for interior wall and ceiling systems but it provides a versatility for usefulness heretofore unavailable. Moreover, the interfacing between wall panels and ceiling grid frame members provides a capability for rapid change to a wide range of floor patterns or plans, a factor that greatly increases the usefulness of existing buildings.

To those skilled in the art to which this invention relates, many changes in construction and widely differing embodiments and applications of the invention will suggest themselves without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention. The disclosures and the description herein are purely illustrative and are not in tended to be in any sense limiting.

We claim:

1. In a building having structural sidewalls and a ceiling, an internal, changeable wall system comprising:

a ceiling grid frame suspended at a predetermined distance downwardly from and supported by the building ceiling and to one or more of its structural walls, said grid frame being comprised of rigid members having a series of longitudinally spaced apart openings;

a plurality of prefabricated wall panel members attached at predetermined locations to said grid frame to form vertical walls of space dividers in accordance with a desired floor plan, said wall panels having generally hollow cylindrical connector means mounted on and projecting upwardly from their top edge and expanding through said openings in said grid members, and means removably engaging said connector means for securing said panels to said grid frame but enabling them to be removed when it becomes necessary to alter the building floor plan.

2. The system as described in claim 1 wherein said frame members are metallic members having a pair of spaced apart vertical side portions interconnected by a horizontal web portion provided with said spaced apart 10' openings, and horizontal flange portions extending outwardly from said side portions.

3. The system as described in claim 2 including ceiling panels and light fixtures supported on said horizontal flange portions of said metallic ceiling frame members.

4. The system as described in claim 1 wherein said panel comprises a pair of spaced apart outer skin members of rigid material fastened to peripheral frame members in a rectangular configuration, filler material within said frame members and between said skin members, and a rigid top edge member forming a longitudinal recess.

5. The system as described in claim 3 wherein said top edge member is a rigid metallic member having vertical sides that lie flushagainst said outer skin members and a connecting horizontal web portion through which said connector means project.

6. The system as described in claim 3 wherein said connector means on each said panel, each have a barrel portion with external threads, a tapered upper end, a nut threaded to said barrel portion and bearing against a ceiling frame member, and base means for said barrel portion anchored to said panel frame.

7. The system as described in claim 3 including rigid metal edge members fixed to the adjoining vertical edges of two said panels, said edge members including central portions between vertical flanges forming a recess, and a vertical strip of resiliently yieldable material within said recess forming an acoustical joint between the adjoining panels.

8. The system as described in claim 1 including a yieldable, resiliently deformable strip member between the top edge of each wall panel and the grid frame member to which it is connected.

9. The system as described in claim 1 including electrical receptacle means on the top edge of said wall panels, cable means above said ceiling grid frame for transmitting electrical power and having junction means for connecting it to said electrical receptacle means, and conductive core means within said wall panel for interconnecting said electrical receptacle means with an electrical outlet fixed to an outer surface of the panel.

10. The system as described in claim 9 wherein said electrical receptacle means and said connector means both are combined in generally cylindrical members that project upwardly from the top edge of each wall panel.

11. A ceiling and wall system for buildings comprismg:

a grid of interconnected frame members adapted to be suspended above the building floor;

cable means above said ceiling structure for supplying electrical power;

a series of upright prefabricated demountable wall sections and connector means at the upper end of each wall section for attaching it to one of said frame members and for also connecting it to said cable means;

means for transmitting electrical power through said wall sections; and

electrical outlet means attached to the side of said panel sections for extracting electrical power originating from said cable means.

12. A ceiling and wall electrical power and signal distribution system for buildings comprising:

a gridlike ceiling structure comprised of interconnected frame members adapted to be suspended above the building floor;

conduit means above said ceiling structure for supplying electrical power and signal energy;

a series of upright wall members and connector means at the upper end of said wall member for attaching it to one of said frame members and including receptacle means for electrically coupling it to said conduit means;

means for transmitting electrical power and signal energy internally through said wall members; and

electrical outlet means attached to the side of said wall members for extracting electrical power originating from said conduit means.

13. The system as described in claim 12 wherein said wall member is a prefabricated wall panel having spaced apart outer sheet members, and said means for transmitting power and signal energy through said member is a central planar conductive member covering an extensive area between said sheet members, so that said outlet means may be located anywhere within an area defined by said extensive area for extracting power or signal energy from said panel.

14. The system as described in claim 13 wherein said central planar conductive member has an area less than one-half of the panel itself and is located near the lower end thereof.

15. The system as described in claim 13 wherein said connector means for attaching each wall panel comprises a plurality of spaced apart cylindrical receptacles on the top edge of said wall panel, which extend upwardly through openings in said ceiling grid members.

16. The system as described in claim 14 wherein said receptacles are generally cylindrical with external threads and a tapered upper end supporting a coaxial cable connector.

17. The system as described in claim 15 wherein said conduit means includes a junction unit with coaxial connectors for said conduit means and said cylindrical receptacle.

18. The system as described in claim 16 wherein said junction unit includes a coupling capacitor for transmitting signal energy and a choke coil for transmitting low frequency power from said conduit means to said receptacle.

19. The system as described in claim 14 wherein said central planar conductive member is supported within a tank-like enclosure formed by thin walls of conductive material and located between outer structural skins of said wall panel, and a coaxial cable section connected from one said receptacle to said central planar member.

20. The system as described in claim 19 wherein said coaxial cable section has a conductive outer shield which is grounded to said tank-like enclosure and a central core fixed to said central planar member.

21. The system as described in claim 19 including layers of dielectric material within said tank-like enclosure on opposite sides of said central planar member.

22. The system as described in claim 21 wherein said electrical outlet means includes a signal outlet receptacle comprised of a monopole probe extending through an exterior skin of a said wall panel through an insulated opening in a wall of said tank-like enclosure and into said dielectric material, with its end spaced from said central planar member.

23. The system as described in claim 21 wherein said electrical outlet means includes a first conductor extending through an exterior skin, through an insulated opening on a wall of said tank-like enclosure and into contact with said central planar member, and a second conductor extending through an exterior skin and contacting a wall of said tank-like enclosure.

24. A prefabricated wall panel adapted for connection with a ceiling grid frame installed in a building comprising:

a series of rigid frame members near the edges of said panel;

a pair of parallel spaced apart external sheet members forming the sides of said panel and fixed to said frame members; I

a plurality of generally hollow cylindrical, spaced apart connector means fixed to and projecting upwardly from the top edge of said pane] adapted to extend through openings in the ceiling grid frame for holding the wall panel in position thereon.

25. The wall panel as described in claim 24 including a rigid top edge member forming a longitudinal recess across the top of said panel.

26. The wall panel as described in claim 26 wherein said top edge member is a rigid metallic member having vertical sides that lie flush against said outer skin members and a connecting horizontal web portion through which said connector means project.

27. The wall panel as described in claim 27 wherein said connector means on each said panel comprises a plurality of generally cylindrical members, each having barrel portion with external threads, a tapered upper end, a nut threaded to said barrel portion and bearing against a ceiling frame member, and base means for said barrel portion anchored to said panel frame.

28. A prefabricated wall panel adapted for connection with a ceiling grid frame installed in a building comprising:

a series of rigid frame members near the edges of said panel;

a pair of parallel spaced apart external sheet members forming the sides of said panel and fixed to said frame members;

a plurality of generally cylindrical, spaced apart connector means fixed to and projecting upwardly from the top edge of said panel adapted to extend through openings in the ceiling grid frame for holding the wall panel in position thereon, said connector means comprising a plurality of generally cylindrical members spaced apart and attached to the upper frame member of the panel, each cylindrical member also having means for connecting it to a coaxial cable supplying electrical power and signal energy to the panel.

29. The wall panel as described in claim 25 including means located between said external sheet members fomiing a tank-like enclosure of relatively thin conductive material, a central planar conductive member supported within said enclosure, and a section of coaxial cable extending downwardly from one of said cylindrical connector members, through said panel and concentral planar central core fixed to said central planar member.

31. The wall panel as described in claim 29 including layers of dielectric material within said tank-like enclosure on opposite sides of said planar member.

Claims (31)

1. In a building having structural sidewalls and a ceiling, an internal, changeable wall system comprising: a ceiling grid frame suspended at a predetermined distance downwardly from and supported by the building ceiling and to one or more of its structural walls, said grid frame being comprised of rigid members having a series of longitudinally spaced apart openings; a plurality of prefabricated wall panel members attached at predetermined locations to said grid frame to form vertical walls of space dividers in accordance with a desired floor plan, said wall panels having generally hollow cylindrical connector means mounted on and projecting upwardly from their top edge and expanding through said openings in said grid members, and means removably engaging said connector means for securing said panels to said grid frame but enabling them to be removed when it becomes necessary to alter the building floor plan.
2. The system as described in claim 1 wherein said frame members are metallic members having a pair of spaced apart vertical side portions interconnected by a horizontal web portion provided with said spaced apart openings, and horizontal flange portions extending outwardly from said side portions.
3. The system as described in claim 2 including ceiling panels and light fixtures supported on said horizontal flange portions of said metallic ceiling frame members.
4. The system as described in claim 1 wherein said panel comprises a pair of spaced apart outer skin members of rigid material fastened to peripheral frame members in a rectangular configuration, filler material within said frame members and between said skin members, and a rigid top edge member forming a longitudinal recess.
5. The system as described in claim 3 wherein said top edge member is a rigid metallic member having vertical sides that lie flush against said outer skin members and a connecting horizontal web portion through which said connector means project.
6. The system as described in claim 3 wherein said connector means on each said panel, each have a barrel portion with external threads, a tapered upper end, a nut threaded to said barrel portion and bearing against a ceiling frame member, and base means for said barrel portion anchored to said panel frame.
7. The system as described in claim 3 including rigid metal edge members fixed to the adjoining vertical edges of two said panels, said edge members including central portions between vertical flanges forming a recess, and a vertical strip of resiliently yieldable material within said recess forming an acoustical joint between the adjoining panels.
8. The system as described in claim 1 including a yieldable, resiliently deformable strip member between the top edge of each wall panel and the grid frame member to which it is connected.
9. The system as described in claim 1 including electrical receptacle means on the top edge of said wall panels, cable means above said ceiling grid frame for transmitting electrical power and having junction means for connecting it to said electrical receptacle means, and conductive core means within said wall panel for interconnecting said electrical receptacle means with an electrical outlet fixed to an outer surface of the panel.
10. The system as described in claim 9 wherein said electrical receptacle means and said connector means both are combined in generally cylindrical members that project upwardly from the top edge of each wall panel.
11. A ceiling and wall system for buildings comprising: a grid of interconnected frame members adapted to be suspended above the building floor; cable means above said ceiling structure for supplying electrical power; a series of upright prefabricated demountable wall sections and connector means at the upper end of each wall section for attaching it to one of said frame members and for also connecting it to said cable means; means for transmitting electrical power through said wall sections; and electrical outlet means attached to the side of said panel sections for extracting electrical power originating from said cable means.
12. A ceiling and wall electrical power and signal distribution system for buildings comprising: a gridlike ceiling structure comprised of interconnected frame members adapted to be suspended above the building floor; conduit means above said ceiling structure for supplying electrical power and signal energy; a series of upright wall members and connector means at the upper end of said wall member for attaching it to one of said frame members and including receptacle means for electrically coupling it to said conduit means; means for transmitting electrical power and signal energy internally through said wall members; and electrical outlet means attached to the side of said wall members for extracting electrical power originating from said conduit means.
13. The system as described in claim 12 wherein said wall member is a prefabricated wall panel having spaced apart outer sheet members, and said means for transmitting power and signal energy through said member is a central planar conductIve member covering an extensive area between said sheet members, so that said outlet means may be located anywhere within an area defined by said extensive area for extracting power or signal energy from said panel.
14. The system as described in claim 13 wherein said central planar conductive member has an area less than one-half of the panel itself and is located near the lower end thereof.
15. The system as described in claim 13 wherein said connector means for attaching each wall panel comprises a plurality of spaced apart cylindrical receptacles on the top edge of said wall panel, which extend upwardly through openings in said ceiling grid members.
16. The system as described in claim 14 wherein said receptacles are generally cylindrical with external threads and a tapered upper end supporting a coaxial cable connector.
17. The system as described in claim 15 wherein said conduit means includes a junction unit with coaxial connectors for said conduit means and said cylindrical receptacle.
18. The system as described in claim 16 wherein said junction unit includes a coupling capacitor for transmitting signal energy and a choke coil for transmitting low frequency power from said conduit means to said receptacle.
19. The system as described in claim 14 wherein said central planar conductive member is supported within a tank-like enclosure formed by thin walls of conductive material and located between outer structural skins of said wall panel, and a coaxial cable section connected from one said receptacle to said central planar member.
20. The system as described in claim 19 wherein said coaxial cable section has a conductive outer shield which is grounded to said tank-like enclosure and a central core fixed to said central planar member.
21. The system as described in claim 19 including layers of dielectric material within said tank-like enclosure on opposite sides of said central planar member.
22. The system as described in claim 21 wherein said electrical outlet means includes a signal outlet receptacle comprised of a monopole probe extending through an exterior skin of a said wall panel through an insulated opening in a wall of said tank-like enclosure and into said dielectric material, with its end spaced from said central planar member.
23. The system as described in claim 21 wherein said electrical outlet means includes a first conductor extending through an exterior skin, through an insulated opening on a wall of said tank-like enclosure and into contact with said central planar member, and a second conductor extending through an exterior skin and contacting a wall of said tank-like enclosure.
24. A prefabricated wall panel adapted for connection with a ceiling grid frame installed in a building comprising: a series of rigid frame members near the edges of said panel; a pair of parallel spaced apart external sheet members forming the sides of said panel and fixed to said frame members; a plurality of generally hollow cylindrical, spaced apart connector means fixed to and projecting upwardly from the top edge of said panel adapted to extend through openings in the ceiling grid frame for holding the wall panel in position thereon.
25. The wall panel as described in claim 24 including a rigid top edge member forming a longitudinal recess across the top of said panel.
26. The wall panel as described in claim 26 wherein said top edge member is a rigid metallic member having vertical sides that lie flush against said outer skin members and a connecting horizontal web portion through which said connector means project.
27. The wall panel as described in claim 27 wherein said connector means on each said panel comprises a plurality of generally cylindrical members, each having barrel portion with external threads, a tapered upper end, a nut threaded to said barrel portion and bearing against a ceiling frame member, and base means for said barrel portion anchored to said panel frame.
28. A prefabricated wall panEl adapted for connection with a ceiling grid frame installed in a building comprising: a series of rigid frame members near the edges of said panel; a pair of parallel spaced apart external sheet members forming the sides of said panel and fixed to said frame members; a plurality of generally cylindrical, spaced apart connector means fixed to and projecting upwardly from the top edge of said panel adapted to extend through openings in the ceiling grid frame for holding the wall panel in position thereon, said connector means comprising a plurality of generally cylindrical members spaced apart and attached to the upper frame member of the panel, each cylindrical member also having means for connecting it to a coaxial cable supplying electrical power and signal energy to the panel.
29. The wall panel as described in claim 25 including means located between said external sheet members forming a tank-like enclosure of relatively thin conductive material, a central planar conductive member supported within said enclosure, and a section of coaxial cable extending downwardly from one of said cylindrical connector members, through said panel and connected to said enclosure and said central planar member.
30. The wall panel as described in claim 29 wherein said coaxial cable section has a conductive outer shield which is grounded to said tank-like enclosure and a central core fixed to said central planar member.
31. The wall panel as described in claim 29 including layers of dielectric material within said tank-like enclosure on opposite sides of said planar member.
US3683100A 1970-11-04 1970-11-04 Modular wall and ceiling system Expired - Lifetime US3683100A (en)

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