The Mexican Museum is bringing on a Mexican architect as the institution begins planning for its controversial and long-in-the-works permanent home, which it hopes to open in 2018.
Mexican architect Enrique Norten is responsible for designing the museum's interior, while Handel Architects will design the exterior tower at 706 Mission St.
"It was important for us to have a Mexican architect," said Victor Marquez, the museum's general counsel.
Norten's Mexico City-based firm TEN Arquitectos has designed several high-profile structures, including the Guggenheim Guadalajara in Mexico and West 53rd Street Library in New York, according to the firm's website.
The project will be overseen through a joint venture between A+D Architecture and Design and Pfau Long Architecture.
Museum Director David de la Torre said the new location, which is near the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, would give the institution "a dramatic increase in visibility."
Pfau Long and A+D will be Norten's "local eyes and ears" in San Francisco, according to Peter Pfau of Pfau Long. Pfau Long specializes in sustainable architecture and design, which is important in San Francisco since The City requires all public buildings to be LEED certified, according to Pfau.
A+D has designed several structures for cultural and nonprofit organizations, according to partner Sandra Vivanco. Vivanco specializes in modern Latin American art and architecture, and she has designed several buildings in the Mission district.
Handel, which will be designing the tower and the museum's core and shell, has worked on several structures in New York, Boston and San Francisco, including the World Trade Center memorial in New York. The firm also would be responsible for preserving the historic Aronson Building, which is next door to the museum site.
The approval process for new buildings in San Francisco is "one of the most difficult in the nation," according to Handel spokesman Glenn Rescalvo, and thus construction of the new facility is projected to take five more years.
The Mexican Museum has struggled to find a permanent home since 1982, when it moved from its original space in the Mission district to a larger building at Fort Mason.
The museum's new location would be on four floors of a Millennium Partners-owned residential building in the Yerba Buena Gardens art district. It would house a collection of more than 14,000 objects related to Mexican and Mexican-American art and culture.
However, the proposed building has met backlash from neighbors over its 510-foot height. The San Francisco Business Times reported last week that homeowners at the Four Seasons residences nearby on Market Street are suing Millennium Partners over alleged environmental impacts of the condo tower.
Correction: The caption accompanying this story originally stated incorrectly that the Aronson Building would be demolished to make way for a condo tower that also would house the Mexican Museum.