OK, I read the thread and a couple of things come to mind. First off, Wes is a master mason and he used fire brick to line the fire box. (I am not a mason nor an expert.)
If I was going to do such a project I would consult with a mason that knew his stuff. If you go through all the work and you have a fundamental
problem with the design and materials at the core of the project, then that makes it tough to fix after the fact.
With that said I am a die hard DIYer so I know what it is like. One idea would be to first fabricate the smoker with the idea of function being the first priority, and then build a brick shell house that would give the aesthetics of the traditional brick inferno. Then you could have the smoker itself on wheels and roll it up to the back of the wall and then attach the doors.
The advantages I see are several. You would only need DIY level masonry skills. You could modify the smoker at any time (like adding steam injection, or any of a variety of things) and do so easily. You could load the sucker into a truck and take it somewhere to be steam cleaned.