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The wall system in this example grew out of a dialogue between the homeowners and the architect. The owners, a visual artist and her retired art-professor husband, approached us with a nearly complete design after working with several other architects and builders. Our challenge has been to realize their distinctive artistic vision for their home, along with their very ambitious energy-efficiency goals, while also working within the hard limits of their budget. The wall system is a 12-inch-thick, double-2x4 stud wall, sheathed on the outside with 1/2-inch plywood. The interior wall frame is supported by the super-insulated concrete slab foundation;...

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