In the era of extremely large telescopes (ELTs), with telescope apertures growing in size and tighter image quality requirements, maintaining a controlled observation environment is critical. Image quality is directly influenced by thermal gradients, the level of turbulence in the incoming air flow and the wind forces acting on the telescope. Thus any ELT enclosure must be able to modulate the speed and direction of the incoming air and limit the inflow of disturbed ground-layer air. However, gaining an a priori understanding of the wind environment’s impacts on a proposed telescope is complicated by the fact that telescopes are usually located in remote, mountainous areas, which often do not have high quality historic records of the wind conditions, and can be subjected to highly complex flow patterns that may not be well represented by the traditional analytic approaches used in typical building design. As part of the design process for the Giant Magellan Telescope at Cerro Las Campanas, Chile; the authors conducted a parametric design study using computational fluid dynamics which assessed how the telescope’s position on the mesa, its ventilation configuration and the design of the enclosure and windscreens could be optimized to minimize the infiltration of ground-layer air. These simulations yielded an understanding of how the enclosure and the natural wind flows at the site could best work together to provide a consistent, well controlled observation environment. Future work will seek to quantify the aerothermal environment in terms of image quality.