The sign on the wall of Debbie Ayres' office at the Edison Electric Institute says "Cubicle Sweet Cubicle." It's a cubicle framed by space wall-2000, the patented brainchild of Washington architect and designer Kim Kristoff.
Kristoff and his partner, David Wilson, established an interior design and architectural firm, RWK International, devoted to combining the most functional use of lighting, drywall and work areas in office spaces. Their intent is to combine these elements in the most economical manner while still providing effective utilization of available office space.
The two partners became concerned with the problem of enviromental stress as it related to work-station design. Despite "fantastic advances in the areas of carpeting, acoutstical ceiling design, lighting and air conditioning," Kristoff realized no major innovations had occurred in the realm of "space partitioning."
Out of his desire to provide an alternative to fixed walls sprang the concept of space walls.
The space walls are constructed in a variety of shapes, with the largest floor-to-ceiling panels weighing less than 55 pounds. The walls are described as "acoustically perfect for the busy office," and connect flush with any exposed spline (hanging) acoustical ceiling. The panels are 2 1/2 inches thick, have aluminum edges and are covered with wool-like nylon fabric.
Space walls can follow any angle specified by a planner and can be moved easily by almost anyone.
"These walls are the result of the objections raised by people subjected to low-wall partictioning and furniture suites, which are often accused of dehuminizing the individual," Wilson explained.
"We realized that this was a problem. The advantage of our walls is that they have a much lower cost, much greater flexibility and visual and acoustical privacy," he added.
The cost is comparable to free-standing low-wall screens, but include the additional benefits of floor-to-ceiling privacy and ease of movement. Space wall offices may include a power and telephone panel for use in open planned areas.
Currently, space walls are being marketed locally, with plans for national sales to begin within a few weeks. National promotional and sales arrangements are being made by Space Design Systems Inc. of Alexandria, a major manufacturer of wall component systems.
Kristoff and Wilson claim space walls offer a logical and inexpensive alternative to cookie-cutter blandness in furnishings. The employes at Edison Electric Institute's downtown offices seem to agree.
"We have a couple of different floor plans each year," said Ann Maynard, manager of media relations at Edison.