reply to dtherbert
Re: First Time Project Thanks for all the replies so far.
I'm in Evanston, not Chicago, and this condo was built in the mid-eighties.
The basement underneath the fireplace area is unfinished, so that's good. Also, the wall the fireplace is on forms a triangular space with the exterior wall and a bathroom wall. I THINK the space is quite a bit larger than the chimney would occupy, and I think the ductwork for the top-floor heating vents also run through that space... so who knows how that might affect things.
As to whether it's an insert or not, I'm not sure, but I think it's a bonafide fireplace. The area outside the marble trim is drywall, and within the marble trim it feels/sounds like painted metal (like it's part of the fireplace). Diagonally the opening of the fireplace is right about 42". It's open to the room, not sure if that answers the vent/ventless question.
So it sounds like it might be pretty involved, and a contractor might be the way to go? Still not sure about how to approach the design aspect.