fireplace chimney etc design questions

I am pondering adding a wood burning fireplace in my living room, which is a cathedral ceiling, with a 2x12 construction floor.
First question: ever seen custom zero clearance fireplaces? It would eliminate the need to bash a huge hole in the floor and pour a footing.
Second question, if I am forced by esthetics to go totally masonry, has anyone experimented with thermal breaks, above or below? I find little discussion about this on the web, and it would seem a major source of heatloss. I imagine the chimney could be steel even on a masonry fireplace, making it easier. The base could be insulated to some extent, but I was thinking with the fairly short height to the floor[~3 feet from the ground to the floor surface] one could pour a footing and support the fireplace structure on heavy steel columns, cutting the thermal exposure to a fraction.
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yourname wrote: <snip decent idea>
BUT why do all that, just get some gas logs
you want the brick for aestetics?
i can understand that
i like those free standing gas pits... you can walk around them on all sides
you've seen'em.. for the cost of all that masonry you could get on helluva free standing ventless deal
OR vent it
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yourname spake thus:

Yes, it would, wouldn't it?
To me, the question is a little absurd: fireplaces, in general, ARE heat-losing devices. Most of it goes up the flue. I'd forget about it altogether if you're actually interested in heating the space, unless you're thinking about installing some kind of heat exchanger there. If you like to burn stuff, get an airtight stove instead.
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