University Centre – Custom Case Study

VGF has designed and installed many custom projects over the years, indoor, outdoor, large, and small. Here you’ll find a collection a few favourite projects, some straight-forward, some filled with challenges, and others that are just plain ‘ole fun. We put them together to form the Vancouver Gas Fireplaces Custom Case Studies.


Recently, Vancouver Gas Fireplaces was approached by the PUBLIC Design Architecture group to help specify the retrofit of a fireplace at the UBC University Centre while it underwent extensive renovations.

Although most of the building was being gutted and redone, certain features were being retained. One such feature was the wood-burning fireplace cantilevered hearth, the stone back wall and accompanying distinctive steel hood. The request was that the fireplace was to be converted to a gas-burning feature without compromising its original appearance.

Initially, the designer involved was trying to specify an off-the-shelf pre-designed fireplace to fit under the hood and to accommodate the three-sided opening. After some back-and-forth communications, it was determined that this would not be an ideal solution as any pre-made unit would end up looking like a steel box awkwardly fitted under an existing hood.

At the designer’s request, we went out to the site prior to the demolition to assess the setup. On inspection, we recommended that a large log set be installed on the hearth with glass enclosing the fireplace. We would then install a power draft inducer at the top of the chimney to ensure proper venting along with a separate fresh-air intake for combustion and vent dilution. This proposal was accepted by all parties involved.

However, what was not mentioned in the initial discussions was that the complete chimney – from the back wall behind the hood up through the roof – was in fact going to be removed. For architectural and aesthetic reasons, the portion of the chimney above the roof would be retained. As a result, when we returned to make measurements of the site, we discovered there was no longer a chimney to work with. What was initially an approved wood-burning fireplace where a log set could be installed without special approvals was now an unapproved installation.

In response to this unexpected situation, we designed the installation with a secondary steel hood to be installed underneath the existing hood to collect the flue gases which was connected to the insulated A vent. This vent would run up through the building and into the existing chimney above the roof. In devising this system, we effectively restored the integrity and aesthetic appeal of the fireplace.

The new design and specifications for this installation were then submitted to the Gas Safety Branch Of British Columbia for approval.

The newly designed fireplace was then completed as designed. In the end, the log-set installation fully replicated the look the designers were trying to accomplish. Despite unexpected alterations to the original plan, we were successfully able to maintain the integrity of the wood-burning fireplace when converting it to a gas fireplace.

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Vancouver Gas Fireplaces’ custom fabrications and installations are designed and tested to exceed UL/ULC standards and associated sections pertaining to the harmonized North American Gas Code.
In British Columbia our custom projects are subject to an
independent preliminary review by the Equipment Approvals Manager of the Gas Safety Authority of British Columbia and a subsequent field review and inspection by Independent Arms Length Government Inspectors.
Our installations and fabrications outside of British Columbia have been independently tested and approved by ULC, Inreteck and other certified and recognized independent testing agencies through out North America as specifically required by local jurisdictions.