2007 Project of the Year: Fireplace Project

Project: Zirpke Fireplace
Owner: Peter & Renate Zirpke
Masonry Contractor: Peter Zirpke
Masonry Suppliers: Basalite Concrete Products; IXL Masonry Supplies

Peter Zirpke, a retired masonry contractor and bricklayer by trade, built and designed this two-story fireplace. Its design was conceived by the style and use of concrete blocks by none other than the great Frank Lloyd Wright.

On the lower level, Zirpke built the fireplace with 8" concrete block, reinforced and solid grouted. The fireplace opening is 36" on a 16" solid raised hearth. The floor to ceiling facing is of ledge stone finish.

Upstairs, a 6" engineered concrete slab provides a base for the fireplace at floor level. A 36" two-sided firebox provides a see-through view from living room to dining room. Black slate hearths accent each side; at floor level in the dining room and cantilevered in the living room. The fireplace is finished in exposed smooth face concrete block with square raked joints, and the decorative design on the living room side is all job-cut concrete block. Extreme four-corner voids are reinforced and grouted.

Structurally, steel components within the body of the fireplace support the ridge beam in the living room, and two side beams accommodate the lower ceiling in the dining room.

Zirpke had the 4,800-square-ft house built for himself and his wife, Renate, but they changed their minds and sold it to the British Columbia Cancer Foundation. The fully furnished home became a prize in the Foundation's charity lottery, complete with a new car in the garage, raising several million dollars for hospitals and health centers.

Local newspapers published rave reviews about the residence with its impressive views, and its centerpiece: the stonework fireplace.