Oct. 27, 2021

Developer has one goal: Make Calgary’s inner city feel more liveable and connected

2021 Top 40 Under 40: Alkarim Devani, BComm’06
Alkarim Devani
Alkarim Devani Jared Sych, Avenue magazine

Alkarim Devani, BComm’06, is a residential developer who balances density with affordability to improve urban living and foster connection and community throughout Calgary. Devani is co-founder and president of RNDSQR (Round Square), a company that designs townhomes, condos, multi-family and mixed-use buildings with one goal: to make Calgary’s inner city feel more liveable and connected. Balancing density with affordability, the 38-year-old believes in a ground-up approach that places people’s needs first.

Do you remember any professors or classes that were exceptional?

Religious Studies, oddly enough. I believe that Ann White was the professor. It couldn’t have been easy to navigate so many different perspectives and thoughts while staying balanced and keeping the class on track, yet she did it.

Where did you hang out on campus?

Anywhere there was a foosball table.

What has been your biggest career highlight to date?

A recent one was seeing people interact with our General Block building in Bridgeland. Walking around seeing people having ice cream, pizza and coffee by the park was remarkable. That project was only made possible by the amazing small businesses.

What is the biggest misconception people have about urban design and putting people’s needs first?

The misconception is mostly around the belief that all developers are evil and the same. Developers help build the foundation for communities and communities are formed by people. We fail if we do not provide a strong foundation and no developer wants to fail. Looking to the future, I hope we have more collaboration and less polarities in the industry.

Where do you hope RNDSQR is in five years?

I hope we continue to impact the way cities grow. I’d like to see more redevelopment in established neighbourhoods that make them more inclusive and accessible.

How has COVID-19 impacted your day-to-day work?

Personally, it’s been tough. I get energy from being around my team, which is why I am hoping to be back in-person soon. The upside is I have been able to spend more time with my three-year-old little girl.

If you were to go back to school, what would you take?

Urban Design.

Who is your biggest hero?

My mom.

What are your biggest regrets?

Not honouring my talents and being too concerned about my weaknesses.

Any advice for students or new grads?

Continue learning and don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.

A guilty pleasure?

Village ice cream.

What are you watching or reading these days?

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.


With files and photos from Avenue Magazine